The MakerGear M2 is a rock solid, reliable and precise 3D printer. While not the cheapest 3D printer on the market, the high level of quality is well worth the price. We can confidently recommend the MakerGear M2 for any type of user, so long as it fits in your budget.
- Best for Enthusiasts, Pragmatists and Semi-Professionals
- Might be good for Casual Hobbyists and Educators (if it fits your budget)
As we’ve pointed out in other reviews, we are still in the early days of the 3D printer market. That means 3D printers are harder to set up, harder to use and harder to maintain than they should be. But that is to be expected by early adopters of a new technology.
With the MakerGear M2, however, no such excuses are required. It’s not perfect, but it is about as close as we come at this point in the 3D printer market evolution.
The MakerGear M2 is a third generation 3D printer from Ohio-based manufacturer MakerGear. Introduced in early 2012, the M2 has a long track record and a loyal customer base. While the company may not be as adept at marketing as some of its competitors, it is known for delivering quality products and providing outstanding support.
- Well built with quality materials; very durable
- Outstanding support, both from MakerGear and the community
- Limited ongoing maintenance and calibration required
- Large build envelope
- No software included; need to purchase separately or download open source
- No LCD screen, must connect to PC to print
- A bit noisy
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It is clear from the moment you unbox the M2 that the focus is on quality, durability and precision. The product, which is available fully assembled or as a lower-priced kit, is made from a rigid, fabricated steel frame. Most of the parts are made from steel or aluminum, making the MakerGear M2 extremely stable and consistent, even with a lot of use. Packaging, included tools and instruction booklet are all well done.
For those buying the fully assembled unit, getting the device set up is quite easy. Making initial adjustments to level the bed and calibrate the Z axis stop are a bit more difficult, but no more so than most other 3D printers. The good news is that, once you have calibrated the machine the first time, ongoing maintenance is minimal. This is again due to the high quality construction and rigid materials used.
The design is open, which allows the user to easily access every part of the machine if adjustment or repair are needed. It uses an open source motherboard, making it easy for the 3D printing enthusiast to update or customize firmware as desired. The M2 is also open in the sense that it doesn’t require proprietary cartridge-type filament. However, it is important to note that the warranty on the hot-end is voided if you use third party filaments.
The build envelope, or maximum size object that can be produced, is 8” x 10” x 8”, which is among the largest you’ll see at this price point. This provides a lot of flexibility, especially if you’re not sure exactly what you’re going to eventually make with it.
The print bed is made of glass, providing a stable, warp-free foundation. It is also heated, which is especially helpful when printing with ABS.
The print quality that can be achieved is outstanding for a 3D printer at this price. The minimum layer height for most comparable machines is in the 0.1 mm range; with the M2 you can adjust it to 0.05 mm or even less. The nozzle diameter is also smaller than most machines in this class, and the XY axis positioning accuracy more precise. All of this adds up to a 3D printer that can produce quality results normally seen only from more expensive devices.See Product Specs
The MakerGear M2 does have a couple of minor drawbacks. First, it does not come standard with any software for preparing and processing your 3D print files. You will need to either use a free open source package or purchase the optional Simplify3D software for an additional $149. We highly recommend going with Simplify3D. It’s a great application and when spending this much on a 3D printer you shouldn’t skimp on the software.
The second gap is the lack of an LCD screen, which means you have no feedback on the status and progress of your print unless you are connected to a PC. Again, there is an option to add an LCD interface for $99, but we believe this should be standard.
Lastly the printer can be a bit loud during operation, but nothing too terrible. (As you can see, we are stretching to find problems with the M2 if two of them can be easily remedied through add-on purchases and the third is that it is “a bit loud”.)
Support for the M2, both from MakerGear and the user community, is second to none. Reports on the company support experience are overwhelmingly positive, both in terms of response time and helpfulness. The MakerGear Forum is also outstanding. It is an active group with several experts who are extremely patient and willing to help newbies get started.
In case you haven’t already figured it out, we are big fans of the MakerGear M2. It is an extremely well built, solid and reliable 3D printer. The M2 produces consistently high quality prints without hours of calibration and tweaking. Support, both from the company and the user community, is outstanding.
Regardless of what type of user you are, we recommend you take a close look at the MakerGear M2.
A rock solid, reliable and precise 3D printer
The MakerGear M2
- Large 8" x 10" x 8" Build Envelope
- Work Out-Of-The-Box With ABS, PLA, PET, Nylon, Flexible and More
- True High-Quality Linear Motion Components
- CNC Machined Precision Hardware On A Rigid Fabricated Steel Frame
- Open Design. No Proprietary Filament Cartridges.