After the most successful 3D printing-related Kickstarter ever ($3.4 million), M3D recently announced a fully-fledged retail version of their Micro 3D Printer. This past weekend at the Maker Faire NY, I had the opportunity to meet with co-founders Michael Armani and David Jones and have a hands-on demonstration with the new printer. Armani says that this is the first true consumer 3D printer to hit the market and, after seeing this machine in action, I’m inclined to believe him.
The consumer 3D market has three major obstacles that no company has been able to fully address: price, user-friendliness, and machine quality/maintenance. The Micro 3D Printer seems to have addressed all three. At a price point of between $399 and $499, the Micro is among the most affordable printers on the market. It also scores high marks for user-friendliness. The software is minimalist and very easy to use. The printer itself works right out of the box and requires no tinkering or adjusting prior to usage. Finally, I was struck by the quality of the printer itself. The frame is solid and print quality is similar to printers at triple and quadruple the price point. Additionally, 3DM is offering a 1 year warranty, which is an awesome plus.
I really enjoyed tinkering with the Micro and the attention to detail and desire to make the perfect, user-friendly machine was almost clearly apparent. The printer has an injection-molded unibody frame that is incredibly sturdy. The build plate is easily removable. Filament can be loaded under the build plate or externally if you chose to use another brand of filament. When I tried using the machine, I was able to easily load an .stl from Thingiverse and have it printing within about a minute, with no hiccups. The printer has a small footprint and is very light, so light that you can pick it up with one hand (while printing) without a problem. Finally, the prints came out great, better than machines that cost significantly more.
In talking to Armani, I was impressed with his dedication to quality and refinement. Where other companies are focused on needless bells and whistles, Armani is focused on the best possible user experience. I have always been skeptical about the future of consumer 3D printing because of the reasons listed above but M3D has a product that has legitimately blown past my skepticism. For more info, check out printm3d.com.