M3D Impressions - one week in.

We've had the M3D printer for about a week now, and here are a few more considered impressions:

TLDR: If you're not afraid of a little fiddling, this could be a good entry level printer. If, on the other hand, you want an "it just works" experience, I'd suggest you wait for version 2.

  • It was able to print ABS right out of the box. It came with a small spool of ABS and I burned through it fairly quickly. The rafting held to the unheated print bed pretty well... at first. The print bed seems to be glazing with use, and ABS isn't working so well anymore. I'm getting the raft peeling up pretty frequently. For the time being, switching to PLA as a print material is working for us.
  • It's a workhorse. If you haven't owned a 3D printer, you need to realize that the process is SLOW. Small prints still take over an hour, and you can have >8 hour prints fairly easily. One thing I've found is that the software's estimate of how long it will take is often on the low side. I can't really say if this printer is much slower than many of the others on the market, but I'd guess that if it is, it's not by much. Just plan ahead with your prints, and put it somewhere where you won't mind it running overnight. Here's just a sampling of the items we've turned out.
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  • FreeCad is awesome. Ok, this has nothing to do with the M3D printer specifically, but as someone who's used professional CAD packages in the past, I was bracing myself for the "open source UX" experience. It is suprisingly polished.
  • One catch: You can't just union STL files you downloaded from [thingiverse][0] with added components you made. The volume where the two overload becomes a negative space.
  • There are two ways to feed filament to the print head: internal and external. Internal lets you used the small spool in the base, and you don't even see the filament as it passes up through a tube. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of friction, and many folks have had problems that way. It worked for me for almost an entire spool, but then jammed, so I went with the external route. This also lets you use nice, big 1 kg spools you can get from Amazon, or Microcenter.
  • If you're making something with tight tolerances, you should be awair that they tend to come out a little "chubby." If you make a tube, the outer diameter is going to be little big, and the inner diameter is going to be a bit small. I've had to adjust my designs accordingly.
  • The M3D is billed as the first "consumer ready" 3D printer. It's definitly less presnickety than others, but calling it cosumer ready may be a bit of a stretch. Many people (including me) have been having issues with the motor in the print head moving. It stops feeding filament and your print fails when this happens. The official fix, recomended from M3D, is to push your motor back into position and apply superglue. I haven't taken the plunge on that yet, fingers crossed.
  • The software offers you several options in terms of how much infill material to use in the center of your design. You can go from completely hollow to completely full. I've found that the "full" setting doesn't really fill it. I'm not sure it's any different than "medium." Below is my attempt at making a hand-craked coffee grinder, to cordless drill adapter. As you can see, it broke. I'm probably asking too much from PLA here, but it would have a better chance if I could make it solid, rather than hollow.