The Modix Big 120 3D printer is a large-format 3D printer available pre-assembled or as a complete DIY kit. It has an impressive build volume of 12″ x 10″ x 8″, a fully enclosed heated print area, and can be purchased with either a direct drive or belt-driven system for the extruder (it comes standard with the direct drive).
It’s a budget-friendly big FDM 3D printer that won’t break the bank but offers a large build volume and can print in multiple materials.
I’ve had my hands on the latest model of this 3D printer for about a week now and thought it would be helpful to write up a review with all the pros and cons to help people better understand what they are getting when they purchase this printer.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Modix Big 120 3D printer is an excellent choice for beginners or anyone looking for a larger print volume on a budget. You have the option to order it pre-assembled, which saves set-up time, and it comes with a USB cable that makes it easy to connect to your computer.
However, it doesn’t have many features and may not be the best option for advanced users looking for more versatility. Print quality is average, although it does accept several different filament types.
About the Manufacturer
This 3D printer is from a Chinese manufacturer called Modix, which appears to operate out of a small factory in Guangzhou, China.
The owner was kind enough to send me the fully assembled version for my review and also supplied me with two sample spools of filament in 1.75mm PLA and 3mm ABS to test and experiment with.
The company also has a YouTube channel that they regularly update: Modix Official on YouTube.
Modix currently seems to have four models of printers available for sale; the Big 120 is the largest while the other three are all smaller (80/100/120). I assume this brand targets the mid-range market between cheap and expensive printers.
The printer comes with a USB cable, MicroSD card, MicroUSB power adapter, filament holder, and sample spool of 1.75mm PLA plastic filament. It also comes with an 8GB MicroSD card already installed with the printer’s operating system, Cura 2.3.0, pre-loaded along with a sample model to test print.
The build area is heated, which requires you to use PLA filament for printing; ABS will not work since it requires even higher temperatures that this printer cannot achieve.
I’m not interested in printing in ABS filament, but it would be an excellent option.
The next step is choosing which machine model you’d like from the three options. The difference between these three is mainly the different build area sizes, as you can see on their website.
I chose the “4 axes” option, the belt-driven extruder, as it seemed like to go with that than a better idea of the direct drive. The printer comes disassembled and requires some minor assembly (less than 30 minutes) before you can use it. It also comes with a MicroUSB flash drive that has the complete body and user’s guide (in English) available for viewing and printing and includes the software and test files.
Assembling the Modix Big 120 3D Printer
I’ve assembled quite a few DIY FDM 3D printers over the years, but this was my first time making a delta 3D printer with a whole different system for leveling the print bed.
It takes some time to figure out how it all works, but you get the hang of it after a bit of practice.
I did try to follow their assembly manual at first but found that it wasn’t entirely clear in some areas and had to do some trial and error to get it right.
When assembling the printer, the biggest thing to remember is that you must level the print bed with each axis point and center it before moving on. This means rotating each wheel until the metal rod running through it presses against the tip of your thumb without too much force but also not falling off quickly. And because delta printers move in three dimensions, you have to adjust the height of each point as well before moving on.
But once you get it right, it’s easy enough to adjust if your print bed is ever knocked out of level again (which I found happens pretty quickly).
After assembling everything and leveling the print bed, I was ready to start my first print.
About the Software
Many 3D printers today come with some form of software to print from, and the Modix Big 120 is no different. It comes with a Micro USB flash drive containing an image file for this, or you can set it up manually on your computer.
The printer uses Cura as their slicing software which is open source and free to download from the Cura website.
Cura is a good option for beginners as it will slice your model into layers and display an estimate of how long it will take to print and how much filament you’ll need. It’s also easy to import.STL files, scale them down and generate supports for overhangs and other problematic areas, so your print comes out nice.
I particularly like Cura because it gives you two options when printing: “Expert,” which allows more control over the settings, or the default Simplify3D mode for beginners.
I spent some time playing around with both Expert Mode and Simplify3D and found that I was much happier with the results in Simplify3D, but I also could achieve better quality prints when I switched to Expert mode.
Simplify3D allows you to adjust many settings such as layer height, infill density, where supports should be placed on your print, etc. And it has a lot of different presets to choose from based on what you’re printing, whether it’s something small or big, thick or thin. Also, Cura has a “speed” setting that controls the print speed, but Simplify3D allows you to adjust this as well, so your prints don’t take forever.
The software only comes with one nozzle at 0.4mm diameter, but there are several other available options on the website which you can swap out if necessary. The nozzle comes with a protective cap to keep it from being damaged during shipping or when not in use, so don’t forget to remove that before attempting your first print!
In addition to the Cura software, there’s also a slicer called MakerBot Print which you can use to slice your models before printing.
Both of these pieces of software are pretty straightforward to use, but I found that Simplify3D was much easier to navigate and allowed me more control over my models. With Cura, it seems like you have to be a printing expert to get good quality prints, but with Simplify3D, the defaults worked well for me as a beginner.
The Modix Big 120 accepts three different filament types: ABS, PLA, and Nylon (although you’ll need your spool of nylon filament for this).
Before printing something big, start with some small test prints first; I decided to s. The bed heats up quite quickly and is pre-heated when the printer is turned on, so it’s ready to print almost immediately.
The first small print I did was of a miniature Ryan Gosling, and it came out pretty good!
I also tried printing an iPhone case but wasn’t too happy with the outcome.
The design had text on all sides, which didn’t come out very well; there were some lines through sections of the print on one side and some separate, connected pieces.
While the iPhone case did come out pretty good, I found that printing minimal and intricate details didn’t work too well with this printer. And it also had a bit of trouble connecting more significant pieces without leaving gaps.
Luckily the web is super helpful when you get stuck like this, and after some research online, I found out that you’re meant to use a brim if you have lots of small connecting pieces that need to stick together.
But even then, I decided it might be best to start working on something bigger before returning the printer, so I printed one of my favorite models: The Millennium Falcon! (This was done in Expert Mode with Simplify3D)
After a bunch of research and learning how to handle the printer, I finally got my print done! It came out pretty good, except there was a small gap between some pieces on the front.
I’m going to keep experimenting with all of the settings and different models until I get it just right.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly 3D printer, the Modix Big 120 isn’t the only option. Here are some alternatives you may want to research.
The BQ Prusa i3 Hephestos 2 is a higher-quality printer used by many 3D printing enthusiasts. It also comes with an LCD screen and MicroSD card reader, so it’s even easier to use without a computer attached, but the downside is you’ll need to purchase those yourself separately.
The Modix Big 120 has a heated print bed, but the Hephestos 2 does not, making it harder to print with ABS or similar materials. And the Hephestos 2 also doesn’t have an adjustable bed leveling system, so you’ll need to replace individual rods yourself if they bend.
On the upside, this printer is slightly more compact than the Big 120 without sacrificing too much quality, and it’s quiet when it prints as well.
The Tevo Tarantula also has a larger print bed than the Modix Big 120 and comes with an acrylic frame that is solid and lightweight. Still, it doesn’t have a heated print bed like both printers to make working with ABS and other similar materials easier. However, if you’re looking for an affordable 3D printer, this is a great option.
The included Cura software is open source, so you can further customize it to your needs, and the print bed leveling system is much easier to use than the one in the Big 120. It’s also hushed when printing, but it won’t be as fast as the Modix Big 120.
Another printer with a similar-sized print bed to the Modix Big 120 is the Maker Farm Pegasus Touch at 200x200x180mm or 7.9 x 7.9 x 7.1 inches, but this printer is much more expensive and doesn’t come with Cura software included to control the printer. Instead, it uses ReplicatorG, an open-source 3D printing program, and the software only comes with one nozzle at 0.4mm diameter. Still, there are several other available options on the website.
The Maker Farm Pegasus Touch has a tiltable, heated print bed and is very easy to use as it comes fully assembled and calibrated, which means you can plug it in and start printing right away. Just install the software on your computer and connect it with the printer via USB cable to get started.
If you’re not familiar with 3D printing and Cura isn’t working out for you, the Maker Farm Pegasus Touch is an excellent alternative if you have the budget to spend on it.
Entering the world of 3D printing can be intimidating. Even the most straightforward machines are complicated, and they can be pricey. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you make a better decision.
Question: How long does it take to print an object?
Answer: That depends on the size and complexity of your model. Some quick prints only take a few hours, but more complex models with intricate details can take many days or even weeks to finish printing, depending on how fine you want the resolution to be.
Question: What is layer height?
Answer: Layer height refers to how much space is in between each layer of a 3D model. The lower the number, the smoother and more accurate your print, but it will also take longer to print.
Question: What does .STL mean?
Answer: STL stands for stereolithography, a type of file format used by 3D printers to interpret the model you want to print. The standard 3D printing software can import or export files in this format for compatibility with most printers.
Question: What does RAMPS stand for?
Answer: RAMP stands for RepRap Arduino Mega Pololu Shield, an open-source 3D printer design still used by some hobbyist-level printers today.
Question: What does it mean to recalibrate the printer?
Answer: Recalibration is how you change the configuration of your printer so that it prints accurately every time. If your prints don’t come out at all or they’re not what you expected, try recalibrating the printer until you get a good impression.
You can find out how to do that for your specific 3D printer model by looking online.
Final Thoughts on the Modix Big 120 3D Printer
The Modix Big 120 is an affordable option for beginners looking to enter the world of 3D printing without spending too much money. It’s also a perfect choice for anyone just looking for a printer that’s large enough to print sizable models.
With a print bed measuring seven inches wide and nine inches deep, this is one of the largest consumer-level 3D printers around with a sizable build volume, so you can print most complex models in one go without needing to piece them together later on.
This printer is compatible with most Windows computers right out of the connection with a USB conto make it easy for beginners. The print bed also comes leveled and prepped to save you time when getting started.
While this device does come fully assembled to save you assembly time, the software that controls it will be more difficult for beginners.
The Modix Big 120 may not have the ability to print in color or multiple materials. However, it still prints objects accurately with reliable results, and the price tag makes it even more appealing for buyers on a budget.