I received my first 3D printed at the end of August, 2015. It was a blue M3D, a small but affordable machine that showed a lot of promise. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the expectations I had.

Although it’s advertised as “easy to use”, “newbie friendly” and “ready to print”, in reality there is a lot of work to be done before you can get a 3D print of acceptable quality.

First of all, the mechanism that allows you to insert the 3D filament “easily” it’s a bit awkward, and prone to malfunction. There are lots of comments in the official support forums that strongly suggest to use an external spool holder to feed the filament directly to the extruder head. Even the included manual recommends that your first print should be a spool holder that fits to the side of the machine.

Then, there’s the printing bed. Although it’s covered in BuildTak, getting my first (failed) prints out of it was really difficult. Every time, I had to take off the entire bed -I have to admit that you can separate this part from the rest of the printer easily- and then scrape the 3d printed part off with a knife. After some time, my mother discovered that I could put the printing bed in the freezer for 5 minutes and after that, it would be easier to remove the print.

Another thing to take into account it’s that this printer is slow. Trying to print Makey, a small toy that stands 30mm height took around 3 hours using a medium resolution and almost no infill. After an entire day of tests, with some patience and the aid of a spool holder made from PVC I was able to make my first successful print!

Using this setup, I was able to get reliable prints

 

In the end, this machine helped me to get into terms with an undeniable reality of 3D printing: You have to be ready to fail. Errors can be frustrating, but they are a step closer to get the perfect print. The price and the fact that this machine comes pre-assembled makes it a good option for students, but I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who is a total newcomer to the world of 3D printing.

Unfortunately, only a week later my city (and the entire region) was affected by a critical failure of the power grid. Due to the incompetence of one of the persons in charge of expanding the electrical network, lots of machines and gadgets that were in use during the night of September 3rd, 2015 were completely burnt out. One of them was my first 3D printer.

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