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Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer review

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The Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer turns out great prints, but it's pricier than many novice models

(Image: © Polaroid)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer offers a lot of features and performance for the price, making it a great pick for home users curious about 3D printing.

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Pros
  • +

    High-quality prints

  • +

    Good print speed

  • +

    Simple, usable interface

Cons
  • -

    Smaller print area than similar models

  • -

    Software is not very flexible

Polaroid isn’t a name that springs to mind for 3D printing — at least not for U.S. shoppers — but the Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer might change that. Polaroid has built a simple device that produces excellent quality prints using a variety of materials, as we discovered during testing our Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer review.

The Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer costs $599. Like the Polaroid 3D Play Pen we tested for our 3D pen face-off, Polaroid's 3D printer is an exclusive at craft retailer Joann , currently offering the printer at an attractive discount as of this writing.

Without that discount, you’ll find less expensive choices for novice users among our list of the best 3D printers. But the Polaroid name and the quality output from the PlaySmart make this device worth a look if you want a 3D printer for the home.

  • Polaroid Play Smart at Amazon for $699

Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer specs

3D Printer Type: FFF
Layer Resolution: 50 - 300 microns
Materials: PLA, P-Wood, PETG
Controls: 3.5-inch LCD color touchscreen
Build Volume: 4.7 x 4.7 x 4.7 inches
Printer Size: 12.6 x 11.8  10.6 inches
Printer Weight: 11 pounds

Polaroid’s better known for its instant cameras, and the PlaySmart takes some design cues from that iconic product, using white and black plastic and the Polaroid logo. The printer might come across as dated to some, but it didn’t look out of place next to one of my vintage 1970s Polaroid cameras. 

The print area of the PlaySmart is rather small, at just 4.7 by 4.7 by 4.7 inches, for a total of 103 cubic inches. That’s a lot less than comparable printers like the Monoprice Voxel (329 cubic inches in total), but it’s the same as the Da Vinci Nano. Printing area is less of an issue than you might first suspect, though: it isn’t difficult to cut objects into parts and print one at a time if need be. 

(Image credit: Polaroid)

Above the PlaySmart’s print area is a small camera, used to monitor prints in progress and to produce timelapse videos. The filament is stored on a separate holder that also monitors how much filament you have left. It’s a nice touch, but one that feels somewhat redundant when you can clearly see how much filament is left on the roll. The PlaySmart works with filament from either Polaroid or third-party manufacturers.

Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer review: Controls

Next to the print area, the Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer features an LCD controller, which is a small but easy-to-read touch screen. It is also responsive, and picking out on-screen options is easy to do. 

Still, you’ll find it easier to control the PlaySmart with the Polaroid PLAYSmart app, available for iOS and Android . This free app allows you to start prints from the library of manufacturer-supplied models, monitor a print in progress through the camera or run maintenance tasks. If you’re printing your own model though, you’ll need to use the control panel and the Polaroid SmartPrep software for Windows or Mac. 

(Image credit: Polaroid)

This simple 3D modeling program can load existing models in the .STL and .OBJ formats. You can resize, move, combine or otherwise manipulate your models, saving them and preparing them for printing. The print file can’t be sent directly to the PlaySmart printer, though: you have to save the print files to a USB drive, then connect this to the printer yourself and select it for printing. That seems like an odd requirement as the PlaySmart supports Wi-Fi.

Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer review: Print speed

The PlaySmart is a pretty fast printer: it cranked out a 4-inch high print of our Thinker model in 3 hours and 56 minutes in Draft mode. Changing the settings to Fine mode lengthened the print time to 10 hours and 13 minutes. That means the PlaySmart can quickly produce a rough print when required or produce a finer, smoother print overnight. 

The PlaySmart is a little faster than most printers we have tested, producing a draft print quicker than the Monoprice Voxel, currently our favorite 3D printer for beginners.

Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer review: Print materials

The PlaySmart can print using three different materials: PLA, P-Wood and PETG. PLA, or polylactic acid is the standard printing material that most 3D printers use. PETG, or Polyethylene terephthalate, is a plastic that is commonly used in plastic bottles and the like. It is lighter and stronger than PLA, but is also more expensive. P-Wood is a form of PLA that is mixed with sawdust to produce a wood-like feel. 

(Image credit: Polaroid)

These materials aren’t expensive: a 1KG reel of PLA costs $38 , while a similar amount of PETG  costs $48 and P-Wood is $55 for half a kilogram. You aren’t limited to these filaments, though: the PlaySmart can also use third-party filament, making this device more flexible than 3D printers restricting you to their manufacturers’ filaments.

Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer: Print Quality

As fast as the Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer created prints, we also were impressed by the print quality of those models. The PlaySmart 3D printer yielded prints with clean, smooth details and very few issues. 

We test print quality by printing three models: a scan of Rodin’s Thinker sculpture, a geometric sculpture and a set of gears. Our first test model came out very well: the Thinker sculpture had excellent detail and smooth, organic-looking surfaces. The printer did a great job of reproducing the curves of the sculptures back and muscles. The layers of the print were rather obvious in all of the print modes, though: the print lacked the polished smoothness of SLA printers and some more expensive FDM printers. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Our second test model uses a geometric sculpture that really showcases the ability of a 3D printer to produce clean, sharp edges. The PlaySmart struggled a little here, with a print that had a lot of thin filaments of PLA between the edges of the print. Those filaments were produced by the material stretching as the print head moved between the different parts of the print. These are not difficult to trim off, though, and once removed the PlaySmart’s geometric sculpture print had sharp, smooth edges and well-defined points. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Finally, we printed a set of gears that are designed to snap together to form a set of hand-cranked planetary gears. The PlaySmart handled these without too many issues, producing a set of gears that fit together with only minimal cleaning. We did have to trim off a lot of the brim that held the print onto the print bed, though. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer review: Verdict

The Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer offers a lot for $599: it can produce high-quality prints and churn out quick draft prints very rapidly. It also supports a variety of materials and doesn’t lock you into one supplier for your filament. 

But when comparing this device to other 3D printers aimed at novices for our Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer preview, Polaroid’s offering is relatively expensive. The Monoprice Voxel, for example, can produce prints that are nearly as good while costing $200 less.

Even at its regular price, though, you're getting a high-quality device for your money with the Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer. And if that price drops below $599, then it becomes a very good deal indeed. Even when not on sale, though, the Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer is a very good pick for home users who want to get started with 3D printing and want the very best prints, regardless of how much they have to pay upfront.

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Richard Baguley has been working as a technology writer and journalist since 1993. As well as contributing to Tom's Guide, he writes for Cnet, T3, Wired and many other publications.

Tom's Guide is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site .

© Future US, Inc. Full 7th Floor, 130 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036.

Everything you NEED to Know Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer!

Written by Kimberly Coffin · This post may contain affiliate links · 1 Comment

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Learn Everything You Need to Know about the New Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer Available at JOANN.

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of JOANN. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’ve been secretly testing the Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer for the past few months and I’m SO excited to finally share it with you.

I first previewed this machine at the JOANN NYC event I attended over the summer, ever since then I’ve been not so patiently waiting to get my hands on this machine and start creating ALL the things.

3D printing is on the rise and this home friendly model is the perfect way to get in on the action. 

With Christmas coming up soon, this printer launched at the perfect time for a techie-friendly Christmas gift.

The Polaroid PlaySmart is easy to use and can create an amazing variety of 3D objects! JOANN is currently the exclusive US retailer of this machine.

This affordable, lightweight 3D printer brings you the ability to easily print in your home, classroom or workspace.

Let’s get a little bit techy for a minute and discuss the details on this 3D Printer.

The Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer uses Fused Deposition Modeling which means that it builds models in layers. It does this by feeding the filament through the PTFE Tube into the heated print head and prints one layer at a time.  

This 3D printer uses .STL files to print all of its models. The .STL file is what tells the print head exactly where to move. You can choose your .STL file from a library of free files provided by Polaroid, or you can create or purchase your own file.

The PlaySmart machine has the ability to print by SD card, USB or App. I love how user-friendly the app is. If you need more control over the fine details you can switch over to the computer.

The printer includes a video camera that allows you to record the printing process and also monitor the progress while you’re away from the machine. It’s so nice to be able to set the printer and walk away while it does the work for you!

The PlaySmart machine can print with three different types of filament; Premium PLA (made from cornstarch), P-WOOD, & PETG. Each of the Filaments sold by Polaroid is universal and can be used with any brand of 3D printer.

The PlaySmart machine comes with a free download of Polaroid’s Smart prep software. This is a computer-based program where you can design, slice and adjust models.

The print size of the PlaySmart is 4.7" x 4.7" x 4.7”. Models are printed onto a glass heated print bed which securely adheres to each model for the best results.

Included with this machine is a 3.5-inch full-color LCD touch screen allowing you to easily print models at the touch of a finger.

Polaroid is a trusted household brand name and you can expect the same quality from this machine as you’ve come to know with their other products.

Now that we’ve covered all of the details, l wanted to share some photos of the models I’ve created with this machine. 

I’m constantly in awe of what this machine is capable of! I decided to use my PlaySmart to create a variety of colorful Christmas ornaments for my Christmas tree. 

3D Snowflake Ornament Tutorial

  • Polaroid 3D PlaySmart Printer
  • PLA Filament
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon

Using the Polaroid PLAYSmart app, select "Model Library" located at the bottom of the screen, then select PLA. Scroll through the available projects until you come across the ornaments. Choose from 15 different designs to print. Select your model and press print.

The printer will take a few minutes to heat up before the printing begins.

Once the model has been printed completely, allow it to cool completely before removing it from the glass bed.

Cut a 15-inch piece of ribbon and string it through the hole located at the top. Tie a knot with both ends of the ribbon and hang your ornament on the tree.

I can't wait to see what you create with the Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer.

Be sure to share your SRP crafts with me on Instagram or in my crafting Facebook group!

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Polaroid Offers PlaySmart FDM Desktop 3D Printers

News

This is Obsidian, this is Yan, this is Duplicator! No, it's a Polaroid. A well-known manufacturer of photographic equipment, and more recently also equipment for 3D printing, announced at CES-2019 a compact desktop FDM 3D printer Polaroid PlaySmart.

“Since we launched the Polaroid ModelSmart 250S 3D printer and Polaroid Play branded 3D pens at CES 2016, we've had great feedback from users in the UK and Europe interested in affordable 3D printing hardware. We are now proud to offer our first small format desktop 3D printer for the European market, bringing the possibilities of 3D printing to an even wider audience. The Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer is an easy-to-use, affordable entry-level solution for homes, schools and businesses,” said April Lunde, CEO of Polaroid.

But the new 3D printer has little to do with Polaroid itself. The trained eye of 3Dtoday participants can easily guess the shape of the Chinese 3D printer Wanhao Duplicator 10 in the new proposal. So it is, although it is not yet known who exactly acts as an OEM. In general, the history of this long-suffering device, which turned from Kodama Obsidian to Furling Tech YAN, then to Duplicator 10, and now also to Polaroid PlaySmart, is entertaining and instructive. Once again, we will not retell, just leave a link to the material with a detailed debriefing.

Well, we can only be happy for Furling Tech, which managed to win back on licenses after crowdfunding failures. There is only one small "but": Kodama Obsidian was originally offered on Kickstarter for $99, but it's worth clarifying that this offer was only for early customers and applied to printers in the basic configuration. Polaroid, on the other hand, offers a completely “fancy” option, but already for 450 euros.

Includes 5" touch screen, 200 megapixel remote camera, 0.4mm quick-change nozzle, 360° airflow on models, heated A/M platform, spool stand with built-in scale (to know how much material remains on reel), the ability to transfer data both via USB and via SD-cards, and wirelessly (Wi-Fi), a mobile application, 2 GB of internal memory, as well as a motion tracking system based on Smart Eye technology. The latter allegedly will allow you to identify failures and marriage, comparing the results with digital models. The size of the construction area is 120x120x120 mm with a layer thickness of 50 to 300 microns.

Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printers are scheduled to go on sale in March this year. Additional information is available on the official website at this link.

Do you have interesting news? Share your developments with us, and we will tell the whole world about them! We are waiting for your ideas at [email protected]

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POLAROID PLAYSMART 3D PRINTER - 3D PRINTERS

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Details
  • Household Brand Polaroid 3D printer. Plug-and-play, easy-to-use, with a high quality output.
  • Print size up to 120 x 120 x 120mm.
  • A 3.5 inch full color LCD touch screen, which includes one-click instant print, the ability to view video playback of previously printed models, as well as simple step-by-step instructions to enhance user experience.
  • App available for a host of amazing functionality including remotely send your model to print, view your model whilst printing live via the in-built camera and share your amazing creation via social media.
  • Output quality layer height ranges from 50 to 300 microns 0. 05mm up to 0.3mm which is fully adjustable via the Polaroid SmartPrep slicing software that comes free with the printer.
  • Quick-release and quick-replace 0.4mm nozzle.
  • Compatible with many of the Polaroid Universal Filament range including PLA, ABS, PETG and P-Wood.
  • Multiple ways to send your model to print via SD Card, USB, Mobile App Wi-Fi.
  • 360° Fan Duct to instantly cool your model as it prints.
  • Heated glass print bed, allowing you to print with multiple materials and remove models effortlessly, post-print.
  • 2GB ROM for model storage and video playback.
  • Compact, lightweight and perfect for the home and office at just 5KG. Also included in with the printer FREE of charge:
  • 1 x 1Kg Polaroid Universal PLA Filament
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