by • January 12, 2016 • No Comments
M3D Micro 3D Printer Starter Kit
The greatCute, tiny 3D printerSimple-to-use softwareAttractive price for beginners
The badSome prints had surface blemishesPrints left behind lots of filament whiskersSlow print times.
The less expensive end of the 3D-printer market is quite competitive, with lots of printing devices vying for the attention of the first-time user. One of the latest (and most interesting) entrants is the M3D Micro, a $349 printer which offers the same showcases as most sizeabler and additional expensive models.
The M3D Micro creates acceptable 3D prints and has easy-to-use software. There are compromises, yet: It is slow, the prints a fewtimes had surface blemishes and the printer’s open-frame design means it mayn’t be great for younger users. But these are compromises you should expect with printing devices at this price, and the M3D Micro is a great pick for casual users who want to see what this 3D printing thing is all of without breaking the bank.
Design: Big Print Volume for the Size
Photo: M3DNot to put too satisfactory a point on it, but the M3D Micro is cute. It’s a tiny 3D printer in a 7.3-inch frame, created of light plastic. Our review unit was an gorgeous pale blue, but the printer is in addition available in black, white, green, orange, clear or silver.
The simply bit which pokes out of this cube is the tube which feeds the print material of the reel, through the back of the frame and into the top of the print head. On the front, an LED-illuminated M3D logo shows you the printer is turned on. There are no buttons or controls on the printer itself: equitething is regulated of your desktop via the USB connection which plugs into the back.
Photo: M3DInside the frame is the printing mechanism, created of a number of rods and belts which move the print head left and right, forward and back, and up and down. The print bed is created of slightly textured plastic called BuildTak which the print material sticks to, and the entire print bed can be removed by sliding it backward and lifting it. This removable print bed has two purposes: It creates removing the accomplished print off the print bed easyr, and it reveals the cavity where the print material is stored on a tiny reel, which holds of 0.5 pounds of filament.
Given the dimensions of the printer, you can produce amazingly sizeable prints: the M3D Micro offers a print volume of 4.2 x 4.4 x 4.6 inches, for a total of 85 cubic inches. As the entire cube is simply over 7 inches on each side, which’s an astounding print volume. While it’s less than what you’d get of sizeabler, additional expensive printing devices like the Polar 3D (which has a cylindrical print volume of 400 cubic inches) or the LulzBot Mini (223 cubic inches), it’s yet sizeable adequate to print most objects.
Print Materials: PLA Works Best
The M3D Micro uses unique 5-inch reels to hold the printing filament, called 3D Ink, which the company sells directly for between $14 (PLA and ABS) and $28 (new ABS which changes colors depending on the temperature of the print head). That works out to between $56 and $112 a kilogram — a little additional expensive than most print materials.
Given the dimensions of the printer, you can produce amazingly sizeable prints: the M3D Micro offers a print volume of 85 cubic inches.
Fortunately, you are not restricted to buying of M3D. The Micro will work with 1.75-mm filament of any developer, but you will have to find a way to mount the sizeabler reels which most 3D filament is supplied on. When it’s running of one of these sizeabler reels, the filament feeds directly into the print head — a much messier and less aesthetically pleasing solution than the hidden approach of the tinyer M3D reels.
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The M3D Micro’s print head and bed in addition assist a wide range of material types, which include PLA, ABS, nylon and other materials. We tested it with both PLA (polylactic acid) and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) filament, and had the most good results with the former material. With PLA, we created sizeable 3D prints which covered much of the print bed and stuck well to the bed while printing. We had less good results with ABS. It’s a tougher material, and prints with bases which were sizeabler than a couple of square inches tended to warp, bending as they cooled. Sometimes, the ABS prints didn’t stick to the print bed — the base lifted of the print bed and the whole print fell off and failed.
Setup: Simple to Get Started
Almost all you have to do to set up the M3D Micro is unbox it, remove the foam and plastic shipping clamps, install the software onto a Mac or PC, plug the printer in and connect the USB cable. Our printer came loaded with a reel of PLA filament, and it was eager to print.
The simply major bit of setup we had to do was to run the calibration showcase of the M3D app, which creates certain the print head is correctly set simply above the print bed. This is an automatic system: The print head detects when it is in contact with the print bed.
Interface: Controlled of an App
The M3D Micro is regulated solely by the M3D app, which is available as a free download for Windows and Mac. There are no mobile or tablet versions of the app, as it requires a USB connection to the printer.
The M3D Micro creates decent-quality 3D prints, yet we saw a few odd printing glitches.
The M3D program is easy to use, presenting you with a number of options to load a 3D model or reload a not long ago utilized one. Once the model is loaded, you get a preview of the printed model with options to move, scale and rotate it. There is no way to build a new model or otherwise modify one; you’ll require a separate 3D modeling program to do which.
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Once the model is eager, you hit print, and the program systemes the model for 3D printing and starts the print system. You get a few options to control the print system, such as determining the print quality and the fill density (how much of the print is filled with assists). More advanced controls, such as for turning off the assists which hold a print in place, are available of a More Options button. You can’t control additional advanced showcases, such as the number of assists the systeming adds to the model while assembling, or the type of internal fill utilized — showcases which can, when utilized properly, create it quicker and additional efficient to create a print.
Print Process: Straightforward, But Not Glitch Free
First, you load the model into the M3D program, scale and move it, and so click on print. Credit: Richard BaguleyWhile the print is in progress, a easy dialogue box in the program shows a percentage meter. It doesn’t tell you how much time remains in the print system, and the estimates the program gives when starting a print were rather optimistic: a print estimated to take 16 hours ended up taking additional than 25 hours. While a print is running, you can’t use the M3D program: it has to remain running until the print is conclude.
While the print is in progress, the software shows a progress bar. Credit: Richard BaguleyThe M3D Micro printer is quiet. You’ll hear simply a slight fan noise and the buzzing of the motors moving the print head. Because it is not enclosed, you do get the smell of the melted printing material — a popcorn-like smell for PLA and a burnt-plastic smell for ABS. Sensitive noses might find these unpleasant, especially after most hours of printing.
The print being printed on the print bed of the M3D Micro. Credit: Richard BaguleyWe did have sat any timeal failed prints during our tests. In particular, we had problems with the print head jamming, in which melted material either got caught in the nozzle, blocked the nozzle or the motor which pulls the material into the print head didn’t pull hard adequate to keep the filament pushing through the extruder and out of the nozzle. When this happened, the printer didn’t notice, and the print head kept moving, even yet no material was extruded and the print stopped being formed. This happened with both filament mounted within the printer and on an external reel. This happened simply intermittently, yet, but it was definitely annoying when a 24-hour print failed most of the way through.
The accomplished print, eager for removal of the print bed and cleaning. Credit: Richard BaguleyMost printing devices use a heated print bed, which keeps the bottom of the print slightly molten so it will stick; the M3D Micro doesn’t. Instead, it relies on the stickiness of the BuildTak print bed, which doesn’t work well with sizeabler ABS prints. It might be possible to use other methods to create the ABS stick (such as blue painters’ tape or a slurry of ABS dissolved in acetone), but the location of the print spool under the print bed creates these approaches difficult: liquids may flow over the edge of the print bed and onto the reel and mechanism at a lower place.
Print Speed: Sloooooow
The M3D is a quite, quite slow 3D printer. We test print speed by printing a number of standard-dimensions models in each of the print-quality modes the printer offers, and the M3D was one of the slowest printing devices we have at any time seen.
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Printing a 4.2-inch version of our Thinker test model using PLA filament took 13 hours and 54 minutes in the low-quality mode (with a layer height of 0.3 mm), while the high-quality version, using a layer height of 0.1 mm, took an achingly long 25 hours and 34 minutes. That’s additional than twice as long as the Polar 3D, which took 5 hours and 19 minutes to produce a draft print and 6 hours 51 minutes to produce a medium print.
Print Quality: Acceptable, But Some Glitches
The M3D Micro creates decent-quality 3D prints, but it has a few issues which detract of the quality: It was prone to leaving whiskers of print material behind, and we saw a few odd printing glitches which detracted of the quality of the final prints. Our geometric sculpture model tests the skill of the printer to produce sharp and straight edges, and the M3D Micro did well here: Our test prints had mostly clean edges with simply moderate stair stepping of the print layers. We did find which the edges of the sculpture had a lot of whiskers stretched between edges as the print head moved over gaps.
Credit: Richard BaguleyThese were in addition accompanied by occasional clumps of the print material on the edges themselves, cautilized by odd lumps of melted material gathering on the print head and sticking to an edge as it was printed.
Credit: Richard BaguleyThe M3D did a decent job printing our Thinker test model, which has lots of smooth edges and organic curves which test the skill of the printer to control the movement of the print head and the flow of molten printing material. Most of these were well-reproduced, with the smooth curves of the Thinkers’ head and shoulders having a smooth, organic look.
Credit: Richard BaguleyHowat any time, we did see an odd, approximately camouflage pattern on the sides of the print, which wasn’t present in the original model. This hasn’t shown up in other printing devices, and is rather a problem. It creates the Thinker look like he has a few sort of unpleasant skin condition.
The M3D Micro is a neat little 3D printer with a lot of great showcases. It has decent software and creates acceptable print quality. And let’s not forget, it is bargain-priced — at $349 for the printer alone, or $449 for the retail version which includes a roll of PLA filament, it is one of the bargain-pricedest 3D printing devices out there.
The downside is the speed: the M3D Micro is much, much slower than others. And alyet it can use ABS filament, it struggled to produce prints with it which sizeabler, additional expensive printing devices had no issues with. But, if you don’t mind sticking with PLA and waiting, the M3D Micro is a decent introduction to 3D printing which shows what a basic printer can (and can’t yet) do without breaking the bank.
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