The MakerGear M2 3D printer is the third generation of 3D printers produced by MakerGear, one that reflects the improvements they have made in their design and the general quality of the parts they use. While other 3D printers in all other classes, not just this class, offer set numbers of options with absolutely no wiggle room or upgradeability, MakerGear offers a printer that can be upgraded on a per-part basis. What this means is that, as they come up with ways to improve and upgrade certain parts of their systems, they will make those parts available to be purchased individually, which allows you to upgrade your printer at a very low cost. This not only helps with keeping the value of these printers high over many years, but also supports their open source mentality that makes this product one of the best offerings we have seen in the market today.
There is a trade-off, however, in a package that allows so many different options and is so open to customization and modification. That trade-off is user friendliness. When a product such as this is built more with engineers in mind than the average end user, there is a significantly broader learning curve. In other words, this product isn’t the run of the mill plug and play printer that can run right out of the box, the same as we are starting to see pop up in hardware and tech stores. This is the type of printer that will require a little patience, a desire to learn the finer points of the technology, the dedication to fine tuning a product to produce the best results possible and a reasonably tech savvy mind. Once it is set up and running, however, the results are fantastic and well worth the effort.
The MakerGear M2 is touted as extremely fast, exceptionally reliable and reasonably easy to use. Although their advertised out-of-the-box settings are supposed to have you up and running quickly, we have found that it is still worth the effort to fine tune and tweak the setup, especially if you are looking to do some custom modifications or print some non-standard types of jobs. This will also come in handy if you choose to experiment with different types of materials besides the PLA and ABS filaments this printer is officially rated to support.
Their support is also top notch, as we have found that not only do they provide detailed instructions and videos showing how to perform certain alignment and calibration functions, they also publish instructions on how to make adjustments when you upgrade parts such as the extruder head. They warn you that when you upgrade from the old to the new print head, you will have to make an adjustment in the temperature profile in the software to compensate. The extra effort they put out to provide these small but useful pieces of information shows their dedication to their customers.
One of the major design improvements on the M2 was switching the frame material from the plywood they used on the M1 to fabricated, powder coated steel. This went a long way toward improving the stability of the frame, and as a result, has produced a much more consistent and steady printer with more duplicable results from print job to print job. The motors were also upgraded in this model, providing increased speed and precision. The M2 is now capable of printing at speeds of up to 200mm/s and at layer thicknesses of less than 50 microns, which makes this printer one of the fastest and most detailed in its class, rivalled only by the CSP PowerWASP EVO.
The M2 also comes with a heated platform, an extruder that can accommodate 1.75mm diameter non-proprietary filaments and even comes with a 1kg spool of PLA to get you started. Their warranty is good for 6 months, limited to parts, but with the hundreds of reviews we have seen from satisfied customers, we don’t foresee this being a major problem. Any mechanical or electrical issue you will have with this printer will most likely be a normal defect that has been known to occur from time to time, which the company would be happy to make good on. All of the parts for the MakerGear M2 are made in-house, in their factory in Ohio, which is mainly responsible for their superb quality standards, due to them being able to keep a close eye on all processes.
One of the most impressive features of this 3D printer is that it is totally open source, which allows for use of different types of software and materials, as well as unlimited upgradeability and customization. As a result, this product offers something for everyone, from the home enthusiast to the small business to the developer. They also have a selection of parts available to purchase separately, allowing you to not only make repairs out of warranty for very low cost, but also have the newest and most improved parts available to you without having to buy a whole new printer.
With all of these things we are seeing and hearing about the MakerGear M2, it is no wonder that the company and its product are earning the respect in the industry that they so richly deserve. A superb product that can produce superb quality results, an upgradeable system, totally open source and 5 star support make the MakerGear M2 worthy of a spot on our list of iReviews 2015 best 3D printers under $2000.
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