the Micro 3D Printer – my first impressions

On Wednesday 4/22 I received the Micro 3d Printer, via pledge from their Kickstarter last year.  I’m not an expert in 3d printing but did want to provide my first impression because I was amazed at the out-of-the box readiness of the printer. I have tinkered before with a rep-rap MakerFarm design 3D printing (slightly larger scale printer) but have found the heating bed to the biggest obstacle (i.e., getting the print object to stick to the bed – tape, hairspray, etc. nothing is consistently working). Again, I haven’t spent nearly enough time to be an expert and if I did, I’d probably solve the heating bed issue.

For the Micro 3D Printer, I wanted something that easily worked in every aspect (extruder, bed, software). Let someone with better skills build and manage it and figure it all out! Just let me print! So get this:  I began printing the first item about 15 minutes after opening the box. I purposely did not do any calibration, going instead with the default settings after loading the filament. The video below, not mine but created by one of the founders of M3D, shows the steps I followed.

The software that M3D offers is fine (I don’t have experience with a lot of 3D software except for the open source software for the maker farm printer I have (arduino? it’s pretty solid but not as user friend). I haven’t explored the M3D enough to properly review. It seems pretty straight forward with advanced features for the brave. I did find that after I load the STL file, I’m not seeing the image in the window (it’s there, and it’s ready to print, but with other software I’ve been able to see approximate size and how it’s going to print. I’m sure it’s possible (again, I haven’t ready any manuals, or had that much time to explore the software). Otherwise, the prompts in switching out the plastic are very helpful.

Note: for this 3d Printer set up, I’m running a Dell laptop with Windows 7 – no issues seeing the printer although two of my USB ports seemed to not be communicating – a third USB has worked just fine.

I printed a little pac man ghost keychain:

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This took about 1 hour, 20 minutes to print.
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The printer is about 8 inches wide and 8 inches deep and about 10 inches high. The print bed looks to be about 5 inches x 5 inches (I’m sure the exact measurements are on the M3D site)

Several things that stand out.

1. First, as a Kickstarter item, the price is right ($249 or $299 is what I think I paid – the price for filament rolls is fair, as well. One roll was included in the kickstarter). If the printer holds up as I expect, and performs as advertise, I will be very happy.

2. The printer was securely packaged and shipped (a box within a box – there seemed to be no shifting).  The makers used some foam, some clips and tape to keep the printer still during transit).

3. The design of the printer is slick, simple, easy access to the bed. I have the black-framed printer. I particularly like the printer name lit up while it’s powered on (there is no power on/off switch – just plug in the power adapter and USB cable and printer will communicate to laptop). There are only a couple of cables (power adapter which could be longer, USB cable (long enough) and the wiring leading to the extruder.  I was able to pull off  my first 3D print easily. The starting layer was a little tougher but I’d rather have that than a non-sticky heating bed.

4. I don’t have a spool to hold the filament but I would recommend printing the attachment asap. I believe these STL files are easily findable on the M3D site and elsewhere.  During my first print last night, I found the filament can get easily tangled as it comes off the spool (I’ve since found a temporary solution). NOTE: You can also set the filament in the base of the printer for a cleaner, more organized look; I think I’ll remain in the external filament camp as it’s fewer steps in switching out different filaments.

5. Remember, the print bed is small. From one I comment I read, it’s too small to print a smart phone case, for example.  This printer is for smaller 3d print items.

I may post again later as I print more items and explore the software more thoroughly. There are plenty of better reviews and videos out there but count me as someone who is glad to have supported M3D.

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