M3D Review

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I've had my M3D for a couple of weeks now. This is my quick review. Although I have a really good upgraded RepRap printer I wanted a 2nd printer to put in my office and I desired the following qualities:

- Lightweight
- Portable
- Quiet
- Commercial Looking
- Easy to Use

This pretty much describes the M3D to a tee.

The M3D had a great summer promo code which of course usually indicates a new model is about to be released. I just saw that an M3D Pro is coming out soon. Even though it looks cool it doesn't exactly meet the criteria I listed above so I'm still quite happy with what I have and don't see myself buying the pro. The small footprint is exactly what I want.

When the M3D arrived it was just an M3D, with cables.

There are several ways to drive the M3D and most of course will use the official software which you can download from here. Then allow the machine to calibrate and then you are ready to print.

Printing is ridiculously easy. You download any STL file from any popular 3D printing website such as Thingverse.com and Open the model and follow the directions. In that regards it just works and works very well.
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Another way to print with a lot more user control is to use something called OctoPrint. OctoPrint can be installed on Linux, Mac, or Windows however the absolute easiest way to install it is to get a Raspberry Pi small board computer and install the operating system OctoPi on it. The directions are on the OctoPrint web site linked above. OctoPrint or OctoPi are controlled from a web browser, not an application from a computer meaning you can control it from any computer.

Another cool thing you can do with the Raspberry Pi is hook a Raspberry Pi camera module up to it and you can monitor the print from anywhere in the world via web browser as in the video below.
OctoPi is a little geeky and I'd recommend a new user just stick with the stock software in the beginning.

Now ……. Review Time.

PRO's

- Everything I listed above

- Light

- Portable

- Attractive design

- Outer case has many attachments that can be easily added. You can print your own tool holders, spool mounts, table mount, etc.

- Good to great print quality

- Quiet

Cons

- Slow. Painfully slow. Items that take 20 minutes on my RepRap printer take hours on this printer.

- Slow. I felt the need to say it again.

- No Linux software. Sorry. I'm a geek. I like Linux. There are some exceptions to this There is a program called IME M3D which runs any printer software and Slicer on any platform but it is beyond geeky requiring the user to know and use GCode commands to set up the printer Home and Calibration. The geniuses can use it, not so much the rest of it. But it's a work in progress and it will probably get polished and become great for users like me.

- No Linux Software. There. I said that again too. Their Tech Support did tell me they were working on and would soon release a Linux version. AWESOME.

- The bed is not heated meaning you are probably stuck using PLA plastic. Not a deal breaker for me.

- The surface adhesive paper which sticks to the bed is very fragile and will need to be replaced. They should have thrown an extra sheet in the box. They do sell new beds and replacement sheets though. Some users opt for a sheet called Build Tak. My first bed sheet lasted 2 days until I figured out how to handle it.

- Things STICK to this material like you would not believe making it almost impossible to remove your part without damage to the part or the bed sheet. You should almost immediately buy a spatula tool for removal. I got this one which works perfectly.

- Small printable area. There are a lot of cool things you CAN'T print on this printer because of the size but there are plenty of cool things you can. Also the software has a Scale feature. If it doesn't fit………scale it down, make it fit. Awesome and easy to do.

So I personally think this is a cool little printer well worth the money (ONLY IF YOU USE THE PROMO CODE). I print things at work and have no real concern with how long they take and I can monitor it from home and stop it if need be. I'll say that again. Using OctoPi you can monitor and STOP a print from anywhere.

If you want a 3D printer and have never had one and have NO IDEA what you're doing get this printer. If you have an awesome home brew 3D printer and you want a second light duty printer……get this printer.

If you want to print big things fast DO NOT get this printer.

UPDATE 26 JUNE 2016: It appears the major developer of third party plugins such as M3D Fio for Octoprint and IME M3D has ceased development of those plugins. I also notice M3D forced him (according to a post on his Github page) to change the name away from M3D.

Things like this prevent me from buying future products from this company. To me the inclusion of 3rd party apps and software make this printer exciting and flexible. Having a cool piece of hardware and exploiting it for all it is worth is what my whole blog is all about. I'll continue to enjoy and use my M3D printer with M3D Fio plugin on Octoprint but it looks like I'm probably stuck not doing any future firmware upgrades as they'll likely break my setup.

I don't know the developer, I don't know what happened but I know nobody is developing and it seems to me M3D is trying to stop development. I could be wrong, but it really doesn't matter. I'll not buy another one, or their new offering the M3D Pro, or recommend anyone buy one beyond what I've already done on this blog.

Your mileage may vary.
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