Like most other entry-level consumer 3D printers, setting up the M3D Micro is simple. From box to printing took me about 10 minutes. You remove it from the box, tear off the packaging material, remove some foam blocks and two plastic clips that hold the print head in place for shipping. Next, you plug in the power cable, a USB cable that connects to your computer, and then you download the management software for Windows or Mac computers from M3D's website.
I did run into a problem using the software, as its current version is six months old and can't be used with Apple's OS X Yosemite. But, the company offered me a just-released beta version that does work. Hopefully, that'll be in general release soon.
I also found the management software somewhat lackluster. While it wasn't difficult to navigate the controls, such as moving the X, Y or Z axis of a model or recalibrating the printer head, there were few ways to actually customize the model you print. You also can't inspect each layer of a model to ensure its print quality. When I hit "print," however, I was truly shocked.
The Micro 3D Printer after creating a model of the Eiffel Tower. This printer may be small, but it's also accurate. Credit: Lucas Mearian
While the cube is open on all four sides and the top, this is the quietest 3D printer I've ever reviewed; its print head mechanism literally whispers as it moves along the print bed.
About that print bed: One of the cool design elements of this machine is that the thermoplastic filament spool actually rests below the removable print bed in the base of the printer. It's a well-thought-out design feature. The print bed is also well designed. It's a perforated board covered in black tape. When it wears, as all printer beds do, you simply peel off the old tape cover and purchase a new one.
A small print bed
Obviously, a smaller printer is going to have a smaller object build area. The Micro 3D Printer machine's build volume is roughly 4 1/3-in. x 4 1/5-in. x 2 7/8-in. in size, and its upper build limit is just over three inches high. That's not a lot of room. However, as many models are printed in parts, it's possible to make large items by printing multiple pieces that can fit together.
Also, M3D's CAD software, like most others, allows you to scale up or down any .stl file you upload to it. So, you can take a 5-in tall model and shrink it to three inches, and it will still print with accuracy.
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.