Cheapest 3d Printer - The MakerGear M2 Features True High Quality Linear Motion Components and more..
I've had my M2 for just over a year now. I spent about two months researching printers and had originally planned on a MakerBot 2, but the evening I was going to put my order in, I stumbled upon MakerGear's upcoming model and spent a couple more days re-evaluating my choice and then put my order in. I am glad I did!
First and foremost, this is a solid machine - other than a few token printed parts, it's pretty much all metal. Welded stainless frame, real-deal linear rails, aluminum plate, etc etc. There's no sign of wood or all-thread anywhere. Very well built! I am used to larger metalworking machinery, so especially a year ago, I was not impressed with the vast majority of the machines on the market. I honestly can't remember the last time I had to adjust anything, even leveling the bed. Point blank, *if* you can find a better built machine, you'll be spending several hundred dollars more, if not thousands. I assumed that after some time something better would have hit the market, but if I were to buy another FDM machine today, I would still go with the M2. I build and race cars, and my day job is in aviation manufacturing; I've got a pretty good handle on hardware I guess you could say. :) There are some things I would have done differently as far as design and material selection, but at the end of the day, nothing has turned out to be an issue after a year of use so I can't knock it.
Second, I have found the support to be amongst the best I have experienced, anywhere, period. Being a small company, I was worried they would be buried trying to get these things out to customers and would have to slack off on support, but that has not been the case at all. If I had an issue, I had a response to my emails within hours, if not minutes. If something was wrong, they fixed it immediately, no fuss or dancing around (I had an early unit with a few hiccups, and I was honestly expecting a few since this was a new machine to the market; not even aircraft are immune to these sort of things).
Third, print quality is great! I've designed things and printed them on our $$$ Stratasys machines at work. Just for kicks, I printed something on my M2 and then printed the same file on our professional machines. I would say you get about 90% of the quality for less, or even much less, than 10% of the cost. And at least on the particular 'thing' I made, the M2 was faster as well. And the print window is rather generous at around 8x10x10" - don't forget to take that in to consideration when you are shopping around!
I was originally going to give 4/5 stars, but between things they have revised over the past year and this being a pre-assembled machine, anything I could really gripe about is no longer an issue. If you combine this with the Simplify 3D 'Creator' software, it's also pretty darn easy to use (the freeware also works very well, but is slower and a bit clunky). This is about as close to a "plug and play, set and forget" machine as you're going to get on the hobbyist market at anywhere near this price point.
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