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Review: M3D's Micro 3D Printer fits in a backpack, quiet as a mouse

Lucas Mearian | Dec. 9, 2015
This adorable printer, which will just overlap the palm of your hand, is a reliable performer.

You get what you pay for.

With M3D's Micro 3D Printer, you get a well-made machine that's constrained in what it can make by its smaller-than-a-breadbox size but delivers average to above-average print quality. It sells for $349.

The Micro 3D Printer started in 2014 as a Kickstarter crowd sourcing project by Bethesda, Md.-based M3D LLC. The effort was wildly popular, raising more than $3.4 million through 11,855 backers.

M3D was founded by Michael Armani, a researcher with a PhD in materials engineering, and David Jones, a software programmer and robotics engineer.

Micro 3D printer 
M3D's Micro 3D Printer comes in a simple box with only a few blocks of stryrofoam and a couple of shipping clips to remove. Set up took no longer than 10 minutes. Credit: M3D

Armani and Jones set out to create what they called the first truly consumer 3D printer that is "intuitive, easy to own, and seamless by design."

The printer has a 1970s round-edged, cubical retro look. It comes in six colors including a bright orange, brash green, cool blue and, my favorite, transparent; it also comes in white and black. For some odd reason, the company charges an extra $25 for the transparent or white model.

You can also purchase the "retail edition," which comes with a one-year warranty (instead of the usual three months) and a spool of PLA print filament.

While small, inexpensive and downright adorable, this open-air printer is also rather slow. A 3-in. high model of an elephant took 5 hours and 47 minutes to print. A model of a 1.5-in. high, 4-in. diameter octopus took 3 hours and 50 minutes. And a 3-in. tall model of the Eiffel Tower took a painfully slow 6 hours to complete.

To date, the best fused filament fabrication 3D printer I'd tested was the Lulzbot Mini from Aleph Objects that retails for $1,350. With the LulzBot, the Eiffel Tower model took one hour and 44 minutes to complete, so you can see that the Micro 3D Printer is markedly slower than others.

If you're a first-time consumer in the 3D printer market, however, you're not likely buying a 3D printer for its speed. You're buying it because it's affordable. And, by nature, 3D printers are slow; if you want a significantly faster machine, you're going to have to shell out more money, a lot more money.

If you're lacking space (and a wad of money) this 3D printer is perfect for any beginner maker. The closest comparison to this machine is the $349 da Vinci Junior 1.0, which I reviewed earlier this year. That machine has a larger 5.9-in. square build area, but it failed rather spectacularly in fabricating anything intricate I attempted to print.


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