JGAurora A3S (In-Depth Review)

When the latest range of JGAurora 3D printers first became available at GearBest a few weeks ago, I was really excited. The new printers are all ready-to-print models and they are all fairly affordable. Best of all, they look really good, especially the A3S and A5.

So when GearBest offered to send a sample JGAurora A3S for review, I immediately agreed. Ready-to-print 3D printers are generally more expensive than DIY kits. Although the prices of the latest JGAurora printers are higher than most DIY kits of similar print size and features, they are significantly cheaper than other ready-to-print models such as the Flashforge Finder ($400), Anycubic i3 Mega ($356) and Iceman3D D150 ($750).

For example, the JGAurora A3S has a heated bed size of 205 x 205mm and is priced at $270 with shipping at GearBest. The Anycubic i3 Mega has a heated bed size of 210 x 210mm and costs $356 — that’s almost $100 more than the A3S. Of all ready-to-print 3D printers on the market today, the i3 Mega is one of few that comes very close to matching the features and design of the A3S so at a price of $270, the A3S offers a lot more value than the i3 Mega.

Product Highlights
  • Build size: 205 x 205 x 205mm
  • Technology: FDM
  • Extruder drive: Bowden
  • Board: MKS Gen-L V1.0
  • LCD screen: 3.2″ MKS32 color touchscreen
  • Heated bed: Includes glass plate with adhesive layer
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
  • Maximum bed temperature: 90C
  • Maximum nozzle temperature: 240C
  • Printing features:
    • Filament detection
    • Resume after power outage
    • Bed leveling assistant
  • Frame: stamped metal
  • Bearings: Linear LM8UU
  • Z axis drive: dual 8mm lead rods / dual stepper motors
  • Power supply: 24V 240W (10A) external power adapter
  • Filament diameter: 1.75mm
  • Print speed: 10 – 150mm/s
  • Printer dimensions: 43.10 x 37.00 x 42.30 cm
  • Gross weight: 9kg
  • File transfer: TF card / WiFi
  • File format: GCode

Although I have been referring to the A3S as a ready-to-print 3D printer, it is actually a pre-assembled model that is shipped in two separate pre-assembled parts. However, since it takes only 5 minutes to assemble the two parts together and attach the wires, it is really not much different from a true ready-to-print model such as the Iceman3D D150 which can print right out of the box. Assembling the A3S doesn’t require any advanced knowledge of electronics and anyone who is handy with a screwdriver shouldn’t have any problems with it. Assembling it was so easy that I was able to do it without referring to the user manual.

Build Quality

The A3S features a frame made of stamped metal. Overall build quality feels pretty solid and everything is put together quite well. Of course, the A3S has some flaws which I will touch on later but overall it is quite a well-designed 3D printer that features nice aesthetics. Another thing that attracted me to the A3S is its linear bearings — the A3S features linear bearings for all 3 axis. Linear bearing systems are harder to maintain and are more sensitive to dust and damage compared systems that feature pulley bearings. However, linear systems generally offer a higher level of printing accuracy compared to pulley systems.

Another key feature of the A3S is its 3.2″ MKS32 LCD color touchscreen display. All functions on the A3S are controlled via this touchscreen except for the power button which is located at the rear. Touchscreen performance on the A3S isn’t exactly impressive and the screen requires a fair amount of pressure before it can register a touch. Viewing angles are also not that impressive either. But then this is a sub-$300 printer, so such sub-par performance for its touchscreen is acceptable.

Wiring on the A3S is neat and wires with the proper gauge are used for the heated bed. JGAurora has also taken the trouble to crimp the 24V power wires that connect to the main board from the power supply unit.

Another thing worth mentioning here is the heated bed which features a pre-installed adhesive surface. JGAurora refers to this adhesive surface as the “Black Diamond Platform”. I’m not sure what material it is made of but it does feel like PEI. The surface has tiny undulations that give it a rough texture and this greatly helps in first layer adhesion. The Black Diamond Platform itself sits on top of a piece of glass which has been glued onto the aluminum plate of the heated bed.

With the supplied 24V DC power supply, the bed has a maximum temperature of 90C which means the A3S is capable of printing both PLA and ABS. While it prints PLA like a champ, printing ABS is an entirely different matter altogether (something I’ll explain later in Printing Performance).

Although the build quality and design of the A3S is great, it does have a few flaws. The supplied filament holder can only hold spools with a diameter of 41mm or larger. Anything smaller than that won’t fit. Another bigger flaw is the wiring loom for the X axis motor which tends to get snagged by the heated bed’s wire connector and get pulled onto the bed itself. Having the loom on the bed when it is at 90C isn’t exactly a big issue since the loom is made of material that can easily handle that kind of temperature.

It is an issue when the loom comes into contact with the print nozzle which normally operates at 180C or higher. Such temperatures can melt the wire insulation and cause a short circuit.

Printing Performance

Being a 3D printer with linear bearings, the A3S produces pretty good prints although not as good as the Iceman3D D150 or the TronXY X5S. The first few test prints I did included two Benchies, a 20mm calibration cube and a lattice torture test. These test prints turned out quite well except for a few flaws — some signs of oozing or boogers appearing on the hull of the Benchy and very slight layer shifts on the hull and calibration cube. The first few test prints were made using the supplied 500g spool of white PLA.

The layer shifts are very minor and can only be noticed when examining the Benchy’s hull under a magnifying glass with light shining at a certain angle. These shifts are not exactly noticeable without close examination. I am guessing that these layer shifts are caused by wobbling flexible coupling shafts on the Z axis motors. My A3S came with bad wobble on both coupling shafts and I intend to replace these shafts with rigid ones to see if it solves the problem.

Curious as to why there was minor oozing on the hull of the Benchy, I decided to print another one using a different brand of PLA. The second Benchy was printed using black PLA with the same print settings and oozing still occurred at exactly the same spots which are spread across the right and left sides of the hull. This rules out the possibility that the model cooling fan, which blows only on one side of the hull, is to be blamed for the oozing.

I have yet to determine the cause of the oozing but my guess now is that it is caused by incorrect retraction settings or possibly temperature settings. On my trusty D150 which also uses LM8UU linear bearings, there are no layer shifts at all and no oozing/booger issues when printing Benchies.

The sample prints shown in the photo gallery below were all printed in PLA with a resolution of 200 microns.

As mentioned earlier, printing ABS on the A3S isn’t as easy as printing PLA and I would advice other A3S owners to completely avoid printing ABS if possible. This is because the supplied 24V 10A power supply unit gets incredibly hot when the heated bed is set to 90C (ABS needs a heated bed temperature of 90 to 100C). Approximately 2 hours into printing my first ABS test print, the power supply failed completely. One possible cause for this failure might be excessive heat in the PSU.

It may also be due to the PSU having a low maximum current rating (the A3S may have been pulling more current than what the PSU is capable of handling). However, when calculating the maximum current being pulled by the heated bed, I discovered that the value is only 5A which is approximately 50% of the PSU’s max. current rating. When measured with a multimeter, the bed on my A3S has an internal resistance of 4.8 Ohms which results in a maximum current draw of 5A when powered by a 24V DC source (24V / 4.8 Ohms = 5A). This  has led me to believe that the failure of the PSU is due to overheating.

Fortunately, I had already completed a few PLA test prints before this incident. I then made the effort to contact JGAurora to explain the problem and they agreed to send me a replacement PSU which has yet to arrive.

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In the video above, I explain a quick method on how to install a more reliable 24V 10A power supply to the A3S. This upgrade can be done if you’ve already busted your power supply and are looking to attach a PSU onto your A3S that can handle both PLA and ABS printing.

At the heart of the A3S is an MKS Gen-L V1.0 main board which is paired to an 3.2″ MKS32 LCD touchscreen. The MKS Gen-L motor drivers can be removed so the more technically adventurous A3S owners can upgrade their drivers to better ones such as those from Trinamic. The A3S does not come equipped with an external MOSFET for its bed but with a 24V PSU, its maximum current draw is significantly lower than 12V systems which means the MKS Gen-L board and its built-in MOSFET should be able to handle things well.

Due to its linear bearings, the A3S is somewhat loud when printing although not as loud as my D150 which has a plastic enclosure. Bed leveling is fairly simple since all four leveling screws are easily accessible. There is also a bed leveling assistant in the menu which helps a little.

One thing peculiar about the A3S is that its Bowden extruder motor does not feature a release lever. This means you cannot manually extrude filament. Extrusion is fully motorized and can be controlled via the menu.

The menu system on the touchscreen is very simple and easy to use. In fact, I learnt how to use the menu system without referring to the user manual. Getting files onto the A3S for printing can be done in two ways — by using the supplied USB thumb drive or by using WiFi. Other neat features on the A3S includes filament detection and resume after power outage. In the event when you run out of filament, the A3S will simply pause its print and alert you. When a power outage happens, you can always resume the print from where it stopped after you restore power to the printer. I’ve tested both these features and they worked fine.

Conclusion

The JGAurora A3S is a well-designed 3D printer that’s almost ready to print right out of the box. It takes only 5 minutes to assemble and produces pretty decent prints. It is a great printer for those who are new to 3D printing and best of all, it is very affordable. Considering the kind of features you’d get with the A3S, this is one printer that offers even greater value than the Anycubic i3 Mega which costs nearly $100 more and has a similar set of features and specifications.

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The only  issues I have discovered with the A3S is a power supply that cannot handle the requirements of printing ABS. Although the heated bed on the A3S can reach a temperature of 90C which is the minimum needed for printing ABS, I wouldn’t advice anyone to operate the bed at maximum temperature for prolonged periods of time as this can cause the PSU to overheat. If you own an A3S, it is better to just avoid printing ABS altogether as it is very likely that your PSU will end up permanently damaged.

Another issue with the A3S is the use of flexible coupling shafts for the Z axis. Depending on your luck, you may or may not get a unit that comes with bent shafts which has some negative effect on print quality, though not much. Despite these issues, the A3S is still a fantastic printer for the price of just $270. Printing ABS on it may not be a good idea, but when printing PLA the A3S is impressive. This is one printer i’d recommend to anyone who is new to 3D printing and is looking for an affordable 3D printer that’s easy to set up and operate.

The JG Aurora A3S is currently available at GearBest for just $270 shipped. Click here for more details.

For a limited time only, get a $10 discount off the A3S with coupon code JGAURORAA3S at GearBest so don’t miss out on this chance to buy the A3S for just $260 shipped.



JGAurora A3S

JGAurora A3S
8.4

Affordability

9.0 /10

Print Quality

8.8 /10

Features and Performance

8.5 /10

Community and Support

7.5 /10

Build Quality

8.0 /10

Pros

  • Ready to print in 5 minutes
  • Very affordable
  • Color touchscreen
  • Great print quality
  • Excellent looks with a host of smart print features

Cons

  • X axis motor wiring can stray onto bed
  • Supplied power supply not suitable for printing ABS (PSU overheats)
  • Unimpressive touchscreen performance
  • Flexible coupling shafts for z-axis motors

Adrin Sham

Adrin Sham is a designer and photographer turned drone enthusiast. Since buying a drone for aerial photography some years ago, he has since developed a passion for UAVs and all things related.

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