The MakerGear M2 3D desktop printer was the best value 3D printer when it was released, and that's still true a year later.
This 3D desktop printer has an open, black powder-coated steel frame and has a vertical (Z-axis) resolution from 50 to 300 microns (0.05 to 0.30 mm) at increments of 10 microns.
The maximum build volume dimensions are 8 x 8 x 10 inches / 203 x 203 x 254 mm (H x W x D) and it uses 1.75 mm ABS or PLA thermoplastic filament.
MakerGear manufactures desktop 3D printers and accessories. The company, founded in 2009, is headquartered in Beachwood, OH.
3D Printing PrimerIf you are new to 3D printing, get up to speed before reading my reviews. I have also created a 3D Printer Buyers Guide so you can easily compare all the different models and choose the right one depending on your budget and requirements.
My MakerGear M2 3D Printer Review
The printer can be controlled via a USB cable (included) using the usual G-code numerical control instructions, or from a G-code instruction file stored on an SD memory card (included) which allows stand-alone operation. Perfect for schools or locating the printer away from your PC.
It is compatible with all the usual 3D printer management software packages (sold separately).
The frame is completely open for ease of access, made of steel for rigidity and has a black powder coat to help resist corrosion. Some other more expensive 3D printers are fully enclosed to keep build temperatures constant, but for the hobbyist, this 3d printer works fine.
Unboxing the MakerGear M2 3D Printer
It's always good to start this MakerGear M2 3D Printer Review with an unboxing. Let's see what you get!
Heated Metal Build Platform
The metal build platform heats to 110 degrees C. This is important since it helps provide thermal stability. If you have ever had a partially printed 3D model break free from the build platform during printing, then you know the importance of having a heated metal build platform!
The printer has many quality components such as precision-machined, anodized aluminum axis mounts and carriage ball bearings which allows precise movement. The stepper motors are size 17 (NEMA) standard.
To get you printing your first 3d model right after unpacking, the printer comes with 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of 1.75 mm PLA filament, which is handy if you forgot to purchase some filament with your order.
Still Going Strong, One Year Later
I bought my M2 just over a year ago. At the time I was researching printers for a few weeks and had originally planned on buying a MakerBot 2. But right at the time I was going to put in my order, I was reading about MakerGear's upcoming model (this M2). I decided to wait a little while and purchase the M2 instead of the MakerBot, and I'm glad I did.
The MakerGear M2 is a solid machine. It does have a few printed parts, but the majority of the printer is all metal.
It has a welded stainless frame, quality linear rails, heated aluminum build platform etc. There's no sign of wood. It's very well built!
At the design studio, I have access to a large range of prototyping machines (3D printers and others), so usually I am not impressed with the lower-cost, hobbyist grade 3D printers on the market.
But with this printer, I can't remember the last time I had to adjust anything (such as leveling the build platform).
MakerGear M2 3D Printer Gallery
Value for Money
To get a better 3D printer, you would have to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars extra. Over the past year, I thought better value for money printers would have been released, but that's not the case. The MakerGear M2 is still one of the best 3D printers on the market in this price range.
I design a lot of prototypes for clients at the design studio, so I have a good idea about how components should be made. There are some things I would have designed differently as far as design and material selection, but nothing has turned out to be an issue after a year of use so that's good.
The support from MakerGear has to be amongst the best I have experienced, anywhere. And believe me, with all the machines I use at the design studio, I have dealt with them all!
I originally thought that since MakerGear was a small company, the support would be non-existent, but that's not true at all. If I had any issues, the MakerGear support staff responded to my emails with hours (if not minutes). There are few companies with such quality support staff.
If something was wrong with my 3D printer, they fixed it immediately, without any fuss or stalling. Since I bought one of the very first units, I had a few hiccups (which I was expecting since this was a new machine to the market).
Awesome Print Quality
The print quality from my MakerGear M2 3D printer is great! I've designed things and printed them on our expensive Stratasys 3D printers at work.
Just for a comparison, I printed the exact same model on my M2 and on our professional machines. The M2 prints with about 90% of the quality for less, or even much less, than 10% of the cost.
For the test, the M2 was faster as well. The print window is rather generous at around 8″ x 10″ x 10″, so make sure to compare that specification when you are shopping around.
Over the past year, more recent versions have been updated, so any issues I may have had are no longer an issue for recent purchasers. It's great value for a pre-assembled machine.
If you combine this with the Simplify 3D ‘Creator' software, it's also very easy to use. You can try other free software, but that will be generally a bit slower and clunky to use.
Plug and Play
The MakerGear M2 3D printer is about as close to a “plug and play, set and forget” machine as you're going to get in the hobbyist market at anywhere near this price point. Things may change in the future, but right now, this printer is a great buy if you need a desktop 3D printer.
- Printing material: ABS or PLA
- Vertical (Z-axis) resolution: 50 to 300 microns (0.05 to 0.30 mm) at increments of 10 microns
- Minimum X/Y positioning: 0.01 mm
- Maximum X/Y movement: 450 mm/sec
- Nozzle diameter 0.35 mm: (0.43 mm typical extrusion diameter)
- Build speed: 80-200 mm/sec
- Travel rate: 100–250 mm/sec
- Extrusion speed: 300 mm/min (manual)
- Build volume: 8 x 8 x 10 inches/203 x 203 x 254 mm (H x W x D)
- Printer weight: 12.7 kg (28 lb)
- Printer size: 350 x 245 x 260 mm (H x W x D)
- Power requirements: 100-240V AC, 50-60Hz, 200W
- Input format: G-code
- Input method: USB cable (included) or SD card (included)
What’s in the Box?
- MakerGear M2 3D Printer
- M2 spool holder, with screws
- M2 power supply
- SD card
- Power cord
- USB cable
- 1 kg (2.2 lbs) spool of 1.75mm PLA plastic filament
- Maintenance kit
- Sample prints