We have tested the MakerGear M2 and it failed to amaze us. We can’t recommend this 3D printer, despite its popularity.
3D printers are complicated at the best of times. There’s a huge amount of variation from one model to the next, and all the jargon really gets in the way of making a decision sometimes. That’s why we’ve decided to create a simple, easily understandable guide to one of the most popular 3D printers available: the MakerGear M2.
There’s an extra challenge when it comes to buying premium products: you need to find a printer that’s worthy of its price, but one that isn’t weighed down with functionalities you’ll never get to use. Let’s take a look and see if the M2 lives up to the hype.
|Extruders||1, optional 2nd|
|Supported Materials||PLA, ABS, PLET, HIPS, HDPE, TPU, Polycarbonate, composite|
|Connectivity||USB, SD Card|
|Build Volume||8 x 10 x 8”|
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This printer has a spacious, open build area that allows you to build larger objects than most other models. Admittedly, there’s only one extruder by default, but if this is a big drawback for you, you can always add an extra one. This is achievable because the entire unit is modular – it simplifies maintenance and allows you to effortlessly upgrade.
It’s sturdily built, too. Instead of 3D printed components, it’s made almost entirely of metal for added durability. The print bed comes already leveled, and there’s software included to help you reset it if needed. Thanks to its four-point system, though, this should only be necessary rarely.
With a base temperature of 110°C, this printer allows you to print even with materials that require very high amounts of heat. This should also prevent sticking, which is excellent. This unit ships with a 0.35mm nozzle, but MakerGear offers additional sizes and materials on their website.
Print quality is above-average but still not perfect, despite this printer’s high price tag. It handles overhangs exceptionally well, but there was significant distortion on relatively simple test models. It seems to excel at low-poly prints, but more complex ones tend to warp or complete with loose strands – hardly ideal, but good for fast prototyping.
We were pretty impressed with the number of different filaments you can use, though. All the usual suspects are supported, but you can also use wood or carbon-fiber filaments. That said, you’ll need to buy a metal nozzle since you don’t get one as standard.
Let’s be clear: this printer is not suitable for commercial applications. It’s clearly intended for experienced users who know how to troubleshoot difficult prints, and at such a high price, it’s prohibitively expensive for newcomers. These facts aside, it’s a strong choice for those looking to improve their skills and learn by doing.
At this price, you expect to see some WiFi capabilities, but this is absent in the M2. USB and SD card connections are supported, though. It includes a copy of Slic3r and Pronterface – two free, open-source applications. Generally, high-end printers come with free professional software, or at the very least, a discount, so this is a bit of a let-down.
Unfortunately, the M2 requires you to use multiple programs unless you’re willing to pay for premium software. First, you have to slice your model, then use a secondary application to send it to the printer (assuming you’re not putting it on removable storage). Also, the bed-leveling and filament changing requires you to use the proprietary software.
However, we did like how easily this product can be upgraded. You can choose to add an extra extruder, additional filament spool, or an LCD screen, and spare parts are also available via the MakerGear website. Even with a single extruder, the printing is pretty fast, so you may not even need one.
At a little over $1800, this printer isn’t for anyone but experienced users. A fully upgraded version will run you around $2000, and that’s before you add $149 for a copy of Simplify3D. Simply put, this model is extremely expensive, and yet, only suitable for mass-producing very simple objects.
On the other hand, we find the spare parts kit to be worthy of its price. You get all of the most commonly broken components including a filament drive and hot end, so you’ll always have spares on hand should anything go wrong. Because of its modular design, replacement is very easy, which is a bonus.
MakerGear’s support area provides several ways to find help. You can call the company, submit a support ticket, send an email, or check out the user forum. The company claims to respond to messages within a few hours, but you should note that weekend inquiries will likely be answered the following Monday.
The M2 comes with a six-month limited warranty, which is standard. What isn’t standard is the extension option: for $350, you can add an extra year’s coverage. Normally, we’d say this was extortionately expensive, but given the high price point of this printer, it might actually be worth the investment.
Simply, the M2 is very expensive and lacks some of the features that many mid-budget printers have as standard. We don’t think it’s fair to ask customers to pay around $1800 for a product and then wait over the weekend for support if problems arise.
While the MakerGear M2 has a premium price, it seems to be designed to milk as much money from consumers as possible. Even if the price were halved, we’d struggle to justify purchasing it, simply because of its complexity and poor print quality on reasonably simple models.
It’s pretty complicated to use too, with multiple programs required to get even easy prints started. This is a classic case of “high price, low expectations”, and without significant improvements, the M2 can’t even come close to justifying its extreme initial cost. Buyer beware.