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Hands-on Gear Review

M3D Micro Review

The M3D Micro.
Price:   $300 List | $315.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Small
Cons:  Poor performance, hard to use, slow
Bottom line:  This tiny printer has plenty of room for improvement
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   M3D

Our Verdict

The Micro by M3D is an adorably small 3D printer, available in an attractive set of colors and costs much, much less than the other printers in this review. Unfortunately, that is about the extent of positive praise we have for this model. This model earned the lowest score of the group and definitely failed to impress.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
David Wise


Last Updated:
Wednesday
June 14, 2017

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Resulting from a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign, the Micro by M3D is a remarkably small 3D printer at a relatively low price. While it is small enough to fit on your desktop, this printer delivered a mediocre to poor performance.

The M3D scored quite poorly.
The M3D scored quite poorly.

Performance Comparison


After spending hundreds of hours testing the top models available, the Micro finished at the back of the pack. This printer earned the lowest score of the group in 3 out of 4 test metrics. The sections below detail the few areas it did well and where it performed exceptionally poorly.

Some of the failed prints from the M3D.
Some of the failed prints from the M3D.

Print Quality


The most heavily-weighted metric of our test, Print Quality accounted for nearly half of the overall score. The Micro did very poorly, meriting a 3 out of 10 for its subpar prints.

The Micro failed on a decent number of prints and many others had to be scaled down to fit within its tiny build volume. In addition, while the manufacturer states that this printer can be used with ABS, it lacks a heated bed. This is most likely the cause of the majority of ABS prints failing.

The Micro did a downright awful job at printing the 3D Benchy, in both PLA and ABS. The PLA version had tons of Z-Axis wobble present in the back smokestack, a poor first layer, a few excess strings, and the sides weren't smooth with a low-quality surface finish. The ABS version was even worse than the PLA, with the layers separating and it being severely warped.

Some of the shoddy prints produced by the M3D. The "M3D" label was made with a different printer...
Some of the shoddy prints produced by the M3D. The "M3D" label was made with a different printer...

The Micro actually did quite well in the PLA bridging test, producing a model with very minimal sagging — even on the longest bridges. However, it did abysmally at the ABS version and created awful Eiffel Towers. The ABS version of the bridge test and the Eiffel Tower failed to print completely and the PLA tower was a stringy mess.

The M3D struggled with complex models.
The M3D struggled with complex models.

Continuing its awful record, the Micro produced exceptionally awful articulated elephants, nickel calibration, and overhang prints. The legs of the PLA elephant were fused, with the layers separating and a very rough finish on the underside. The ABS version failed to print completely. The PLA nickel test was acceptable, though there were plenty of visible gaps around the perimeter of the nickel. The ABS version was extremely warped and would not fit the nickel at all. The ABS overhang failed to print, while the PLA was quite terrible.

The ABS models exhibiting some severe warping.
The ABS models exhibiting some severe warping.

Unsurprisingly, the M3D didn't fare any better at the platform jack or hollow cube. Neither platform jack or the ABS hollow cube finished to completion. The PLA cube had pronounced Z-Axis wobble with tons of sagging on the bridged areas — slightly surprising, after the M3D's good performance in our dedicated bridging test.

The misalignment in the vertical axis is clearly visible.
The misalignment in the vertical axis is clearly visible.

The M3D continued is track record when we moved on to our pair of low-poly figurines, with only one PLA version turning out even close to acceptable. Both ABS versions were falling apart with tons of layer separation, as well as one PLA models. The other PLA model had an awful base that was separating but the rest of the model was acceptable.

These models showed some severe layer separation as well.
These models showed some severe layer separation as well.

The spiral vase prints followed the trend, with the ABS version failing to complete and the PLA version having tons of separating layers. The tall tower test was also terrible, with pronounced protruding layers from Z-Axis wobble. The support test failed in ABS but actually did quite well in PLA, with the support structure breaking away cleanly and quickly.

These three models all had some solid issues.
These three models all had some solid issues.

The M3D finished out the testing with another bad performance, doing an abysmal job at making the threaded jar and lid.

The threaded containers were pretty abysmal.
The threaded containers were pretty abysmal.

The ABS lid failed to print, with the following photo speaking for itself in terms of quality of prints.

The M3D with one of the smaller rolls of filament made to fit inside.
The M3D with one of the smaller rolls of filament made to fit inside.

Ease of Use


Redeeming itself slightly from its overall poor showing in the first metric, the Micro earned a 6 out of 10 for its above average score in Ease of Use. The manufacturer states that the bed is self-leveling and it checks the bed height prior to every print.

The included items with the M3D.
The included items with the M3D.

This model was ready to go right out of the box — boosting its score — though we did print an external spool holder to use large rolls of filament.

We didn't like that this model had to be connected to a computer to print and was not able to print directly from an SD card or USB drive. This also made it irritating to swap filaments. The printer lacks any sort of display but the computer would show the % completed and estimated time remaining.

We also found the M3D's companion software program to be somewhat awful.
We also found the M3D's companion software program to be somewhat awful.

We found the software to be a little buggy and prone to crashing as well.

This was not the most capable printer out there.
This was not the most capable printer out there.

Print Capabilities


Resuming its track record of poor performance, the M3D earned a 2 out of 10 in our Print Capabilities metric. This model requires you to use their proprietary software to send a model to the printer but you can use other slicers, like Simplify3D — though it is a multi-step process. You can slice a model in Simplify3D or Cura, export the file, then open it in the M3D software to actually print it. We weren't fans of the plastic build plate, finding it easily damaged. The Micro was also plagued with bed adhesion issues throughout the test, no matter what we tried.

The plastic print surface wasn't great for reliable printing.
The plastic print surface wasn't great for reliable printing.

This model is able to use generic filament, though only proprietary small spools will fit in the Micro's internal holder. This model also has one of the smallest build volumes out of the whole group.

Comparing the build volumes between some of the printers.
Comparing the build volumes between some of the printers.

This model didn't appear to have a dedicated layer cooling fan and the extruder can reach a maximum temperature of 265C

Support


Finishing out with an alright score, the M3D earned a 5 out of 10 for the Support metric. We found only two instructional videos that weren't very helpful. The support team responded quickly to our bed adhesion questions though this model lost some points due to the fact that a support ticket is the only way to contact them, no phone number. This model also has a relatively short warranty period of 3 months, with the option to upgrade to 1 or 2 years for an additional fee.

Value


While this printer is inexpensive, its performance is so poor that it is hard to justify spending money on this printer — especially when there are comparably priced models that severely outperformed it.

Conclusion


While the M3D is small with a sleek and compact design, it had an all-around subpar performance in our tests, causing us to caution against this particular model
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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