- Ashley Alleyne
I recently reviewed BuildBee, a 3D printing software with features that go beyond slicing 3D prints.
BuildBee is great for both beginners and 3D printing veterans alike, with its easy-to-use built-in presets, and customizable profiles. BuildBee gives you the ability to easily slice files for 3D printing, repair files, queue 3D models, connect up to five 3D printers, has a large library of free 3D prints, and even has to ability to easily create 3D printed lithophanes.
While I really enjoyed BuildBee, not every software is perfect, and there are a few things that could be improved. Despite this, whenever I had errors, BuildBee got back to me within hours (and they’re in Australia) and even hopped on a Zoom call with me when I had an issue connecting my 3D printer to BuildBee (which was the cables’ fault, not BuildBee’s). Below I listed what I loved about BuildBee and some things that could be improved.
Overall, I think BuildBee is great if you’re new to 3D printing. What I loved about BuildBee is its All Purpose slicer setting. Within a few clicks, you can have BuildBee automatically slice your 3D model for you. It also has a feature that allows BuildBee to add a smooth top surface to your 3D print. I’m really impressed with the quality of this feature; however, I will note that this feature does work best on flatter prints and not so much on spherical prints (due to the constraints of FDM 3D printing). I think this setting is great for someone who just bought a 3D printer and is dying to print right away. Sometimes there’s a learning curve when it comes to learning 3D printing slicers (that was the case for me), so being able to just click a few buttons and have a 3D print start is incredible. This setting is also great if you have a print that’s due for a client or a print that you need immediately, and you don’t have time to figure out slicing settings. Also, articulated and mechanical prints came out really well with the All Purpose setting. Overall this print setting worked really well but occasionally had minor issues.
Besides the All Purpose slicer setting, BuildBee also has many other great features within the program. I really like that I can monitor my 3D prints and my 3D printer remotely through BuildBee. This is really helpful because I spend hours at the makerspace where I’m a Design Entrepreneur in Residence, which is two hours away from my house. I love that I can monitor my 3D prints instead of worrying if it’s printing. I also really liked the lithophane feature. Making a lithophane was extremely easy- I just had to upload a picture and choose what shape I wanted it to be. I was blown away by the quality, and it made a wonderful mother’s day gift that my mom loved (instead of the “old wow, this is interesting” thing that moms sometimes do).
On the flip side, not every software is perfect, and there are some areas that I think can be improved in BuildBee. First, I wish BuildBee had a way to alert you if your 3D print is failing or if your filament is not extruding instead of saying that it’s still printing. I’ve used other slicers that will alert me if my 3D print is failing or if there is an error. But they’re incorporating a camera feature that can monitor your 3D prints, so that should help. I’ve also noticed that BuildBee had some difficulty printing some more complicated models like the voronoi egg that failed twice in the same spot. However, printing voronoi items on an FDM printer in general can be tricky. I pointed this out to BuildBee, and they have already incorporated other voronoi models into the software. I also had an error with one BuildBee file, which was a hinge box that wouldn’t load in the software when I was trying to print it. However, I let BuildBee know, and I actually helped them discover that there was a bug in that file, which they fixed right away. And lastly, some models had a lot of stringing, but that can be typical with FDM 3D printing.
Despite these errors, BuildBee got back to me right away whenever I was having an issue, which I couldn’t believe because they’re based in Australia! I would email them at 6 pm, and I would wake up in the morning with an email from them that they sent at 1 am. They even hopped on a Zoom call with me when I was having issues connecting my printer to BuildBee, which was actually the cable’s fault and not BuildBee’s. Once I got a new cable I was able to connect my printer successfully. Also, if a user is experiencing errors or has any issues, you can send BuildBee error reports directly in the software.
Overall, I’m really impressed with BuildBee! It’s super easy to use, and I think it’s a great software if you’re new to 3D printing. And I’m really impressed that BuildBee has so many features and capabilities. If you need a 3D print in a pinch and don’t have time to figure out slicing settings, or you’re new to 3D printing, the All Purpose setting is great. And for $6.99 for BuildBee Unlimited (which is less than a large green tea latte at Starbucks), you can send unlimited prints and have access to more features. Of course, there are things that can always be improved, but I’m overall really happy with BuildBee!