The M3D Micro Plus is an upgraded version of M3D’s previous Micro 3D printer that was launched on Kickstarter back in 2014. At the time, it really promised a lot offering the end user an all in one simplified user experience. I never got to test out the original printer, but from multiple reviews and forum posts on the web it seemed to have not lived up to the hype that it had promised. The main issue that I saw time and time again was the brutally slow print speed which capped somewhere around 20mm/s.
Now we will fast forward to what I received, the M3D Micro Plus which is intended to fix the issues with the original model. I did read that the Plus version has an upgraded mechanical movement system along with having the ability to print at up to 45mm/s. This is still quite slow but a serious improvement over its predecessor. The overall footprint and look of the Plus is identical to the original Micro with a total printer size of 7.3” x 7.3” x 7.3” with a build platform area of 4.3″ x 4.5″ x 4.6″.
I went ahead and unboxed this printer on livestream which came packaged nicely in its little box. After taking the printer out of the box, I headed over to M3D’s website to download their software suite for this printer. After I installed the software, I ran into my first issue. This printer allows you to install filament that is external or filament that is internal (under the bed if you use their tiny spools). I could not get the internal filament to load into the hotend and was forced to open the hot end assembly to force the filament to go the correct direction.
Once I had gotten the filament to feed through I set out to print. I headed over to Thingiverse and downloaded a small case for my Raspberry Pi Zero. The user interface is relatively clean and simple which is nice since the printer is definitely targeted at extremely entry level users. There are minimal slicing settings so once you choose the few options you are allowed to the machine is off and printing.
For my first print, I went with the quality being one below the highest option in the software. The printer does not use endstops, so the extruder head just crashed into the designated corner of the printer. This does work but is a strange design choice and caught me off guard. The M3D Plus does have some sort of auto bed leveling so that you will not have to worry about. The print turned out okay, not great at all but okay. My biggest issue is that the printer seems to lay down some form of a raft that I could not figure out how to disable which screws up your print when trying to remove.
I went ahead and printed a few more prints, one of a benchy and one of a batman bust that were once again just okay. After using this printer for the past couple of weeks here, I have come up to a conclusion on where I stand with this printer.
To begin let us look at the good with this printer. The printer is well adorable, in its tiny footprint it can easily sit on the corner of any desk without being overwhelming. It is also fairly quiet and I am not sure how they were able to fit much of anything inside of its small frame. I do like the idea of a printer that is extremely dummy proof in a sense that has very easy to understand options.(At least for a beginner that just wants to see it print)
Now the things that I dislike about this printer. For starters, the cost which at the time is $350 but I was told will be dropping down to $250 dollars. For what you are getting, I still feel that $250 is a steep price tag. The software is easy to use but it is also very limiting and I think it was a poor choice to make it so that you cannot connect to another slicer or controller. The frame is all plastic which although is sturdy enough, at the price tag they definitely could have done a better job with the hardware.
As far as speeds, it says it can print at 45mm/s but I have no way of knowing whether it was actually able to reach those speeds or not due to the very limiting slicer software. The quality on the next to finest detail available was extremely average to below average compared to what is available on the market today.
The fact that I had such an issue loading filament with my years of experience showed me that no way would a new user have been able to dissect the unit the way I did to get it working. This would result in an extremely frustrating new user experience. Lastly, the heated bed is an addon for about $80 and it seems like it was not very well thought through. It sits where the existing bed is but required a completely different power supply to get it to power on.
The heated bed does not communicate with the slicer or software at all and just heats up when plugged into the wall. You have to physically tweak a potentiometer to adjust the temperature and there is no reading as to what the temperature is. No way would a new user that is interested in this machine be able to figure out how to use this overpriced hot bed.
In summary, the machine could have been something decent but it is a long ways away from being a simple user experience and it does not feel like much has changed from its older brother that launched back in 2014. With so many other options available for the same price or even cheaper, it is tough to justify this printer in its current state.