There currently are a handful of FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D printers that stand out as being truly better than the rest. Among these are the LulzBot TAZ 4, the Ultimaker 2, the FlashForge Creator Pro and, of course, the MakerGear M2.
MakerGear has been around the 3D printing scene since 2009 (which is a decent amount of time for a consumer-based 3D printer manufacturer) and their M2 model is currently in its 3rd generation.
In terms of overall quality and the performance you get for the price, MakerGear’s M2 is right at the top of the pack. It brings everything you should expect from a high-end 3D printer, including a good-size build area, an open source design, a sturdy build quality, excellent customer support, and plenty more features.
|ASSEMBLED||Yes (Can also be ordered as a kit)|
|TECHNOLOGY||FDM — Fused Deposition Modeling|
|MATERIALS||1.75mm ABS, PLA (Others possible)|
|BUILD SIZE||203mm x 254mm x 203mm / 8″ x 10″ x 8″|
|RESOLUTION||As low as 20 microns|
|INPUT||.STL, .OBJ, .THING, file input|
|SIZE||432mm x 457mm x 356mm / 17″ x 18″ x 14″|
|WEIGHT||12.7kg / ~28lbs|
MakerGear M2 Features
Yes, it’s an open source design and yes the printer’s metal frame gives it a very sturdy and durable design…
…but the printer is also backed by incredible customer service (something very important in the young consumer-focused 3D printing world) and it can hit very good print qualities on a consistent basis.
The printer also has the ability to print in a variety of different filaments (as long as they’re 1.75mm) and can hit layer heights as low as 20 microns. Ultimately, the M2 is just one of a few 3D printers that bring the WOW-factor to the 3D printing industry.
MakerGear’s Customer Support: Second to None?
Take a look at any 3D printer review and you’ll notice that there is usually always some kind of mention of the quality of the manufacturer’s customer support department.
This is because consumer-level 3D printing is still in its infancy and the technology is not without its flaws. Because of this, if 3D printer manufacturers want to stand out from the competition, they have to provide excellent customer support because it is almost a guarantee that their customers are going to have a problem while owning their 3D printer.
Fortunately, MakerGear sets the bar high with their customer support. They’re quick to respond to customer emails, they will fix any problems the machine might have within a very reasonable time frame, and they have a ton of tutorials, as well as an active community, to help you learn more about their printer and what it’s capable of.
And, that’s exactly the kind of support that wins 3D printing enthusiasts over.
Sturdy Design and Build Quality
Even some of the cheaper 3D printers on the market can achieve high quality prints. So, why spend more on a higher-end 3D printer like the MakerGear M2? Consistency.
Consistently getting your printer to hit high-quality prints can be a pain. And, the more you run your printer, the more likely you are to run into problems. Fortunately, though, MakerGear designed their 3rd generation M2 to be as consistent and durable as possible.
They achieved this by incorporating an all-metal frame to provide a very sturdy machine. And, as a result, the M2 is able to consistently pump out high-quality prints.
Full List of Features
|Decent-sized print area lets you print big items|
|When calibrated correctly it can produce very accurate prints|
|Easily one of the best values for a 3D printer on the market|
|The sturdy structural design makes consistency easier to achieve|
|Customer support is one of the best in the industry|
|The online community is active and full of information/advice|
|Comes in either a kit or full assembled|
|Open-source means you can upgrade and mod the printer|
|The six-month limited warranty is good enough|
|Can be setup quickly and easily|
|Comes with a rack to hold your filament|
|Is great for both beginners and experienced users|
Setup, Software, and Configuration
A lot of 3D printers can be a real pain to get setup and configured properly to the point to where you can actually start turning out quality prints. Fortunately, that’s not the case for the MakerGear M2.
If you choose to get the printer in the kit form, the assembly of the machine is not terribly difficult, but you will need to set aside some time to get it put together.
For the pre-assembled printer, the process of getting it up and running is as simple as the following:
1. Remove the zip ties and Styrofoam packaging
2. Install the Spool Holder
3. Connect the Power Supply
4. Connect the printer to your PC via the USB cable
5. Feed the filament through the guide tube and into the filament drive
Once those five easy steps are complete, your M2 is ready to get started printing. However, before you can start you need to choose what software you’ll use to run your M2.
While the MakerGear M2 will work with a variety of open source software packages, MakerGear recommends that you purchase Simplify3D™ Software (which can be purchased here.)
Depending on what software you decide to use, there are a number of different “getting started” guides available. This guide will help you get started with your M2 if you’re using Simplify3D, and this guide will help you get started if you’re using an open source tool.
For 3D printing beginners, the Simplify3D Software is probably your best bet. It’s simple and easy to use and it makes the printer as close to plug and play as possible. Though, if you are more experienced with an open source software, then you can definitely use that as well.
Printing With the MakerGear M2 3D Printer
The meat and potatoes of any 3D printer is going to be the quality of the finished prints and the consistency with which they can be printed. Cheap printers can hit high quality prints on occasion, but it typically takes a lot of adjusting and recalibrating to achieve.
High-end printers can pump out more high-quality prints on a regular basis. And, that’s what the MakerGear M2 is able to accomplish… consistent high-quality 3D prints.
In this section I’m going to go over a few important factors to consider for those of you who are wanting to know more about what it’s like to print with the M2. These factors are: print quality, print speed, print area and volume, and printer build quality and reliability.
Easily one of the best features of MakerGear’s M2 is the fact that it can achieve very accurate prints. With the ability to hit layer resolutions as low as 20 microns, the M2 is capable of printing out very smooth and detailed prints that have a showroom-type feel to them.
In fact, for an FDM printer, the MakerGear is easily one of the better 3D printers on the market when it comes to print quality. And, a lot of this is due to how well-built the M2 is… but more on that in the ‘printer build quality and reliability’ section.
While speeding up your printer will almost always result in a lower quality print the MakerGear M2 is definitely capable of finding a happy medium between speed and print quality.
With the ability to hit speeds as high as 200mm/sec the MakerGear M2 is stacked up evenly with other high-end printers on the market. So, if it’s speed you’re worried about, the M2 will definitely meet your demands.
Print Area and Volume
The M2 doesn’t have the biggest print area/volume in its class ($1,500-$3,000 printers). That award goes to the LulzBot Taz 4…
However, the MakerGear M2 offers a respectable 203mm x 254mm x 203mm (8″ x 10″ x 8″) build area. That puts it right on par with, or even bettern than MakerBot’s Replicators, Airwolf’s AW3D XL, FlashForge’s Creator Pro.
So, as far as the size of the items you can print, the M2 ranks among the best in the industry.
Printer Build Quality and Reliability
Perhaps the one feature that helps the MakerGear M2 stand out even among top tier FDM 3D printers is its build quality. The M2’s welded stainless steel frame easily make it one of the most sturdy 3D printers on the market.
On top of that, the M2 probably has the most well-designed linear rail system among FDM 3D printers. This helps the extruder move back and forth in an incredibly smooth manner, which ultimately shows itself in the final quality of finished prints.
And, while MakerGear doesn’t offer a full on-year warranty like other top tier 3D printers (TAZ 4 comes to mind), it does offer a six-month limited warranty. That’s not amazing, but with the build quality of the M2, it’s likely that you won’t run into too many issues where you’ll need to invoke the warranty anyways. So, the six month warranty works.
In the end, there are only a few FDM printers between $1,000 and $3,000 that really deliver great performance for their price. The MakerGear M2 is without a doubt on of them.
The M2 combines class-leading build quality and structural design with excellent print accuracy, amazing customer support, a good-sized build area, and the ability to get up and running quickly.
Overall, the MakerGear M2 is very easy to recommend to anyone looking for a high-end 3D printer in the $1,000-$3,000 price range and it’s no wonder why it made it onto our list of the top 3D printers on the market.