It takes a lot for entry-level printers to rise to the top. The Monoprice Select Mini might be a few years old, but it’s still an extraordinary choice for anyone new to 3D printing.
Let’s say you’re in the market for a budget 3D printer. It’s tough: there are models that are vastly overpriced, models that have to be manually assembled from parts, and some that simply aren’t good enough to justify even a very low price. What if you saw a printer far less expensive than the rest? Would you trust it?
Maybe you should. We’re talking, of course, about the Monoprice Select Mini. It’s an absolutely tiny printer designed for people looking to explore the world of 3D printing, without breaking the bank. So how does it hold up? Let’s find out!
|PLA, ABS, HIPS, PVA, TPU
|USB, SD Card
|4.7 x 4.7 x 4.7”
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This printer’s design is about as simple as they come. It has a single extruder, and prints onto a heated bed. The build area is, as you’d expect, fairly small – roughly the size of a can of Coke. Still, this is about average for a printer in this price range, so there are no complaints on this front.
Since this printer is designed for beginners, we were pleased to see that it ships fully assembled and pre-calibrated. In fact, thanks to the four-post leveling system, you shouldn’t have to calibrate it too often. Instead, you can focus on the fun part: actually printing things.
You can control this printer either with a PC or directly, using the built-in screen to select models for printing. There’s also a USB port and SD card slot, and the printer actually includes a USB stick with models so you can get printing right away.
The first thing you should know is that the Select Mini is slow. Its top speed is about half as fast as its rivals, and worse, it tends to fail when running even at that. You’ll be far better served with a slow and steady approach. This seems to create the most consistent, high-quality models.
Now, bear in mind that this is a budget 3D printer. Despite this, we found its prints come out looking pretty good! Sure, you can still see the layers, and intricate details aren’t replicated all that well, but with a little patience (and post-processing), you’ll find you can actually do quite a lot with the Select Mini.
Budget 3D printers tend to have one characteristic in common: lack of versatility. You can expect to print with PLA, maybe ABS too, at best. Incredibly, the Monoprice Select Mini supports both of these materials, as well as HIPS, PVA, and TPU. It’s not even limited to using a proprietary filament, so you can really go wild.
Part of this printer’s appeal is its simplicity. As such, it doesn’t have many advanced features to speak of. Rather, it tries to make things as easy for new users as possible. Take software, for instance: it works with Cura, Repetier, Simplify3D, and most other popular modeling or slicing programs.
As you grow more comfortable using a 3D printer, you might want to add some upgrades. The Select Mini is perfect for this, since its inner workings are easily accessible, and its firmware easily flashed. In fact, we’ve found guides for everything from changing the hot end to adding wireless functionality.
If you’ve used a 3D printer before, it’s unlikely that this model will blow you away. It’s aimed at beginners and has a price point to match, after all. However, if you’re completely new to printing and just want something to tinker with as you learn, there are a few models better than this one.
So how much do you think this printer costs? Brace yourself – it actually retails for around $190, making it among the cheapest 3D printers we’ve seen. Now, it’s not available directly from Monoprice anymore since they’ve released the Mini v2 for the same price. However, it can still be picked up by third-party retailers.
The freedom to use third-party filament means you can keep your material costs down. Evidently, if you want to print often, this will increase to some degree, but since there’s no support for exotic filaments, things shouldn’t get too out of hand.
This printer is perfectly priced and has enough versatility to corner the low-end market. Frankly, we’re amazed that this isn’t the go-to recommendation for people looking to get into 3D printing for the first time.
Despite its low prices, Monoprice offers a 30-day money back guarantee on all its printers. Once you’ve committed to keeping the unit, a year-long limited warranty takes effect. This is pretty good coverage, especially since there’s no risk of breaking anything during assembly.
On the other hand, Monoprice only offers basic troubleshooting tips and 3D printing tutorials in its support section. You can use the ticket system, email, phone, or live chat to get more detailed help. Our only issue is that the returns link only works on some pages, throwing an error on others.
Honestly, this level of support was unexpected. Too often, low-end 3D printers try to sell their product and then wash their hands of it. That’s clearly not the case with Monoprice, and for that, we applaud them.