Recently I was sent a M3D Micro 3D printer and prior to receiving it I was pretty confused as to how all of this 3D printed stuff was done and even more confused as to how 3D printed objects could actually work. I was definitely ready to experience this and learn not only how to print something that had depth instead of just words/ink onto paper or something similar. I was anxious to see how it all comes together in the end to make whatever object it is you’re making.
First, let me tell you a little bit about M3D and what their goal is. They are a small company who recently put their 3D printer onto a Kickstarter project to raise money to fund it. The thing they wanted to use to attract users the most was that it was a 3D printer that was under $200 – $350 in price. Very unheard of this early on in the consumer 3D printing community. 3D printers can be and are very expensive. Not only for the 3D printer itself, but for the supplies that you need, such as various filaments, to actually print something.
To no surprise, when they launched their Kickstarter project back in 2014, they surpassed their $50,000 goal in just 11 minutes and in total they raised over $3.4 million to get their project funded. Now, with all of that out of the way, and hopefully with your interest peaked a bit, let’s get to the review.
About The M3D Micro
Despite the overall small print size, I found it impressive how little space the printer took up. It’s built to make the most effective use of the space as possible, even down to a discreetly hidden area under the print bed for a filament spool to be seated.
Although there is that space under the print bed with a tube connecting it to the extruder, it’s actually recommended you use the external feed port. There’s no spool holder when used externally, but M3D do provide a 3D model of one that you can print out. In curious way, this was actually quite satisfying. The excitement of having a 3D printer can sometimes extinguish quickly as you’re overwhelmed by a catalogue of 3D printables from the Thingiverse or similar repositories. With the Micro, you know exactly what you need to print first, and it feels like quite the achievement to have printed a spool holder; something useful that you can point at and justify your extravagant purchase. Even if one should have been included anyway. However, I chose to go with a little tiny robot which had a print file on the USB thumb drive they supplied with the printer. Spool holders are cool, but robots are cooler so that’s why I chose the robot.
All About The Printer Ink
There are two ways that you can use printer ink, or filament as they call it, with the M3D Printer. There is a space beneath the printer bed(the black plastic surface) which is where the “internal” filament gets placed and there is a tube connecting to the printer head that you feed the filament into. Or you can take the filament and feed it through the top of the printer head in the feeder port which is what M3D calls the “external” method for printing.
It’s completely up to you which way you decide and desire to use to print things. I chose to go with the internal route. All it takes is a couple of minutes to get the filament fed all the way into the tube and up to the printer head, a couple of clicks on some buttons in the M3D software and then you’ll be ready to print.
M3D has made it really easy to know what to do with their ink, or more properly, filament, and what color you’re using. On their spools are a three letter cheat code that you enter into the software so you can tell the printer what color filament you’re using to print whatever it is you’re printing. This is very handy so you don’t have to guess or try and decipher certain color names or whatever.
The filament cartridges cost $13 each for PLA filaments or $18 each for Chameleon Filament(color changing PLA filament) cartridges. Each spool contains 250ft or 1/2 lb. of filament. In my opinion, this is a pretty good deal because you would think that with as cheap as the M3D 3D Printer is that you’d probably have to spend a decent amount of money to help cover the low cost of the printer. Thankfully this isn’t the case.
My First 3D Printed Object
When I got my M3D Printer I was also supplied a thumb drive as I mentioned above which contained a couple of files that you can load up really quick with the M3D software and get to printing your very first print. I elected to go for the robot print since, well you know, robots are just cool and awesome.
Once you get the file loaded, which is as simple as opening any file in a graphics editor or word processing app or whatever. Once the file is loaded, then you can change the size of the printed object if you’d like. Depending on what it is you’re printing will depend on how big you can print it, within limits of the 3D printer size of course.
Within the software before you actually begin to print, you can make changes to how the object gets printed. Such as fill capacity, print quality and a couple of other things. If you choose to do a capacity that’s more full, this means that what you’re printing will be more solid, but it will also take a considerable more amount of time to print.
You’ll discover that printing most 3D objects that they don’t print really quick. On average most things will take at least 3 – 4 hours and I’ve had a few things take 30+ hours. Again, just depends on the detail of what it is you’re printing and the print options you choose.
Below is an image of my first print, which again, was the robot that was provided for me.
Other Various 3D Printed Objects
After having access to the 3D printer for a couple of weeks, I printed several different things. Most things I found via a site that specializes in 3D print files called ThingiVerse. My fiancee, Bianca, wanted me to print her a SpongeBob so I went and found one and had it completely printed in about 32 hours.
I also printed some Batman stuff, a couple of which didn’t come out right at all to a point that I ended up having to throw them away. Not sure if that was my fault, the printers fault or the file in which it was being printed from. Then I printed a small ankh(Egyptian symbol of eternal life) and a couple of other small things.
You can view the images of the things I printed below. Other than the ankh, which only took about 4 hours to print, everything else took at least 20 hours to print due to size and that I used the option for full fill to make them more solid as well as a high as possible print quality.
As you can see, I’ve been playing around quite a bit with different things. This certainly isn’t everything that I’ve printed but it’s a good selection of the things I’ve printed. They’ve all been a lot of fun and as stated, some have come up really good while others have come out so-so and then some have been so bad I’ve had to just toss in the trash can.
As stated in the beginning, 3D printing isn’t really cheap in any way right now due to the fact that it’s still relatively new for the household consumer. M3D has changed that with their M3D 3D Printer by making it available from $200 – $350 for the printer itself, then the cost of filaments which are also fairly cheap in my opinion. You can grab one for yourself via the link below and of course let us know in the comments below if you already have one what you think of yours and what kind of cool and kick ass things you’ve 3D printed.