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Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign for the Micro 3D printer that started on April 7 2014 by the crew over at M3D, the market for 3D printers took a turn for the better. Prices have dropped to a point where 3D printing can be safely picked up as a starter hobby. The $350 price point for a small form printer drew in $3,401,361 for the Kickstarter in a month, proving that people were interested in 3D printing and just needed an introductory price to gamble with the new technology. Following such a successful campaign, companies started to price to compete by coming out with their own small form 3D printers. When I purchased mine last year there were only two other printers within a close price range to consider, but the Micro from M3D had some clear advantages and has won my vote. I would definitely recommend the product to friends and family.
The others that I considered were the da Vinci Jr. by XYZprinting and the Replicator Mini by MakerBot, of which each have their pros and cons.

An image of the da Vinchi Jr.

Contender #1

The da Vinchi Jr. has an advantage in that XYZprinting has previous experience in developing other 3D printers, but the downside is that the software is well known to be sub par. With the price matching the Micro at $350, it was a matter of exchanging experience with all around better software and the ability to use different filaments (more on that below).

 

Contender #2An image of the Replicator Mini.

The Replicator Mini being a product from MakerBot looked to be a promising alternative as the brand is well known and recommended. However, with a much heftier $600 price tag, the product falls flat for most people’s expectations for the cost, as it performs about equally to the Micro.

Results

Aside from the other products simply being not as good as the Micro, it boasts some features of its own that really lets it stand out. The Micro is able to use multiple filaments (the material printed with) including ABS, PLA, and nylon; other low cost printers typically only support one material. With a resolution of .05 millimeters, it’s also able to print with much finer accuracy, leading to less time afterwards cleaning up your finished product. As it stands now, the clear winner for small form 3D printers is the Micro by M3D.

An image of the Micro

All photos are copyright their respective product manufacturers.

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