Today I’d like to review the white Micro3D M3D. My own printer arrived two weeks ago, so enough time to have a first glance. If you are about to buy a m3d printer, please consider reading my review. I will discuss several topics like What is the M3D printer, the production quality, customer support and -most important- the printing quality.
What is the micro 3d?
The micro 3d is a 3d printer meant for consumers. The m3d costs as low as $349. Furthermore it’s easy to use. To sum this review up I’d give this printer 7.5 points out of ten. The printing quality is very reasonable and can compete with way more expensive printers. Here are some bulletpoints that will help you with understanding my decision.
good printing quality
-doubtful customer service
-requires connection to computer during printing
Let’s speak about the money first
People sometimes tell you, not to speak about the money, but here I do. The m3d costs as low as $349. I’ve only paid $199 as I was one of the early bird backers plus another few bugs for shipping and around $ 60 Dollar for customs duties. Of course the customs duties depend on your shipping location.But if you take their current offer, it’s still much cheaper then most of the competitors. By now it was the most successfull 3d printer campaign on Kickstarter.
Printing with quality
The quality of the prints is really good. The amount of outflow, the nozzle and the movement of the printing head seems to be well balanced when printing with presets. This will lead to good result. The m3d software automatically builds a bed and help structures for you when needed. Unfortunatelly you can’t view it, in the software. This makes it hard to spot errors in advance.
One thing to take into account is that the M3d printer comes with a cold bed. This can cause issues when printing ABS, as the material tends to warp, when it cools down fast. I could imagine that building some custom heated bed wouldn’t be that difficult, but for now there is no out-of-the-box solution. I had issues printing ABS with larger beds and volumes. To fix them I used some sand paper to roughen the tape and alcohol to remove dust.
The m3d requires to have a connection to your pc. It doesn’t come with a lcd display nor with some wifi connection. Tip: If you want to cut the energy consumption of your pc + 3d printer combo you could try using octoprint on a raspberry pi that’s connected to the printer.
Shopping and shipping
Note this only applies to the Kickstarter campaign:
During the ordering process I felt more like a beta tester or crash test dummy than a customer. I remember one day I got an email that every backer should add his Amazon Payment ID to his profile, but honestly that made me a bit wonder, as it seemd as they weren’t able to keep track of their payments. Another thing they should definetely improve is streamlining/automating their ordering site; I simply couldn’t select a colour and check out, instead I had to wait another three weeks until someone of Micro3D unlocked the payment feature. After weeks of no reaction I found out that the printer was out of stock, so I had to change my order again. I didn’t wait for the linux software to be published. This would have caused another delay.
But once the printer was handed over to the carrier, the shipping was fast forwarded. The printer arrived packed in two cardboxes. Critical parts like the rods were secured with 3d printed clips and the extruder was held into postion with blue tape. Some nice little detail. The printer worked out of the box. You plug it into your machine, install the software and your ready to go. This is pretty cool.
As they have shipped the M3D printer with UPS I had no need to pick up my parcel at a custom office, as I could pay the taxes and customs directly to the UPS parcel service driver.
Production Quality of the M3d printer
The production quality seems to be pretty resonable to me. The case is well crafted, so are most of the other parts. I couldn’t spot any places with sharp edges. The movement of the printer head is pretty precise. One cool thing is that you can use filament that’s hidden under the printing bed or use filament from some external source. Another big plus is the size of the m3d, it won’t fill up your whole workshop, it’s tiny enough for being placed on a regular writing desk. Of course people could argue that having a small printer can limit you to only print small pieces. Well that’s true, but honestly have you ever printed something bigger than 10cm10cm10cm? For me this size is fine, if I would like to create larger prints, I would probably be contacting an online or offline service to print it for me.
One little thing that worries me are small black chips in the corner of the printer. They probably come from the plastic piece that connects to a threaded rod, which is attached to the motors for the up and downward movement and the rods for the sidewards movement. Till now it’s not that big of a deal, but I hope, that it won’t result in inexact movements. For now I use Ballistol to make everything work like a charme.
Promises and shattered dreams of the micro 3d printer
All in all the m3d printer is a success story e.g. they have extended their funding goals on kickstarter by far. Despite the many positive facts for some backers this wasn’t thoroughly a success story. Even though I can imagine, that it’s extremly difficult to realize a kickstarter campaign, they should have sticked a bit closer to what they promised. To name a few:
It can also be used with any Windows, Mac, or Linux based system.
Until now (late June 2015) you can’t download any Software Version that runs on Linux.
August 2014 to March 2015 Fulfillment of Kickstarter rewards
Even until now (June 2015) they haven’t shipped all of their printers. They currently have shipped about 90% of all the pledges. For my understanding this definetely takes to long!
Bold colors. Choose from Silver, Black, Blue, RedOrange, and Green.
Choosing a color isn’t simply your personal preference, as Micro3D isn’t able to offer them all equally. In almost every Kickstarter Update they told, which color they have currently in stock. If you are not following their recommendation you simply have to wait another 10 days. Originally I decided to order a silver printer, but due to difficultys in the production process they couldn’t offer a scratch resistent silver printer at the same price like every other color. Thats why we choose the white printer.
European Union friendly shipping
If you ever ordered something from abroad you know that taxes and customs can be a real pain. At the beginning of their campaign Micro3D promised that they try to offer European Union friendly shipping, unfortunatelly they weren’t able until now. That meant for us that we had to pay the 50€ (taxes and customs) ourself.
The M3d software
The micro 3d software is really easy to use. All you do is import your 3d model, set size, position and rotation, tweak some infill and quality settings and your ready to go. An interesting detail is that the M3d software is based on Cura by Ultimaker. But Cura offers you a way more features like cycling through the individual layers of the mesh. I still don’t know why the developers hided or removed useful features. Changing the software’s interface and probably the code base as well help’s on the other hand to simply the interface and taylors the software to the M3d printer. There’s also the possibility to import gcode. If you wanted to have a special infill pattern you could use one of the many only tools to generate the gcode and push it directly to your printer (you will have to use the m3d tray icon). Beta builds of the M3d software are available of their dropbox account.
Now there is a forum if you have any questions about the M3d software, but this forum requires a login. This can be annoyoing when googling something. Otherwise you could contact the costumer support as well.
Some words about costumer service
In short I can’t moan about the constumer service. I contacted the service once to ask about the custom process and I got a quick and extensive response. Unfortunatelly I’ve read from others on forums and especially on the kickstarter page, where this wasn’t the case. Micro3D regret in their latest Update (31) that they “could not systemize support quickly enought to repsond in a timely manner”.
As Mico3D is a pretty young company I am pretty sure that can have a bright future, if they work on this issue. 😀 About 4 months after the release post, more complaints about the customer service have reached us. It seems like micro3d has still not found the formula to offer”good” customer service. I hope they will work on this issue.
Till now I don’t regret my purchase. The printer does what it’s supposed to do. The software is very easy to use and the settings can be easily tweaked. Of course I would have enjoyed having the above named features. If you plan to use your printer only occionally, you could consider hiring an online service. This could save you a lot of trial and error. If you’d like to download the tin from above, please change to here. Do you already own a printer, do you plan to buy yourself a micro 3d? Tell us in the comments.
Alex and Markus