Monoprice Maker Select v2 3D Printer
UPDATE: Some things have happened since I originally wrote this that I wanted to discuss but weren’t worth a new article, soffi nothing else PLEASE read the parts in bold below!
I didn’t expect to review this, and I know it isn’t necessarily an RC item – but let’s not fool ourselves, a 3D printer is a great thing to have in this hobby. It is also a hobby in and of itself it turns out. Regardless I wrote this review on the manufacturer’s website and want to elaborate on it here.
I purchased the Monoprice Maker Select V2 3D printer about a month ago based on suggestions from numerous groups on Facebook. The Maker Select is a high quality clone of the Wanhao Duplicator i3 V2.1, which itself is based off of the Prusa i3, an open source 3D pritner. Don’t let the open source title scare you though, it comes fully assembled save for a few screws. It arrived in only a few days, and took about 15 minutes to set up. I had my first print in under an hour, a sample file of a butterfly. As far as inexpensive 3D printers go that’s crazy fast. The Maker Select has a build area of about 8″ x 8″ x 7″ (give or take) and requires a bit of room, so I repurposed an old end table to holsd the printer, control unit, and supplies.
Being based on open source hardware and software, you have multiple options for support. Monoprice in based in the US and has a great customer support record and the printer comes with a one year warranty. There is a dedicate forum on Thingiverse for the Wanhao which, again, is the same thing, and a highly active Facebook group as well. If you have questions about the printer, that is a great place to start as the users there are normally pretty quick to answer and are very helpful.
I love this printer. No really, I love it. There are a ton of mods out there for this printer, most of which you simply print out. For example the upright section does tend to wobble a bit and needs to be square. No problem, print out the Z-axis brace mod, grab a few parts from the hardware store and you are good to go (you can see this mod in my photo above – the orange corners and rods)! With the stock nozzle you can use any brand filament (no proprietary stuff here!), unlike with some other printers where you must purchase their filament with coded scanners to make sure you don’t try and cheat them out of a few bucks. If you replace the nozzle and hot end (the part that melts the plastic filament) with an all metal unit you can print virtually any filament out there. Filaments infused with wood, carbon fiber, iron – it is crazy what they’ve come up with!
Out of the box you can print PLA easily, and ABS as well thoguht with mixed success. You really need a controlled ambient temperature to print ABS as it has a tendency to cool too quickly and peel away from the print bed. The solution for this is to print the printer in an enclosure, so I built one using wood, acrylic, and hardware that I printed using this very printer. This also helps with controlling fumes as while PLA doesn’t really have a smell ABS certainly does. Mmmmm, burnt plastic… I added some LED lights, and even went as far as to run the whole thing from a Raspberry Pi 3 for wireless remote printing and monitoring using an old webcam. Come on dude, that’s cool.
Cons? Bed leveling gets old pretty quick. The printer is easy to assemble (only a few screws) but takes time to get it all square and level. Sometimes a screw needs tightened out of the box, so check them all. The print bed is thin and will warp over time, but using a glass plate solves that. The default speed is good at the expense of print quality, so be prepared to learn about acceleration and jerk settings. Oh, and then there was that one time it CAUGHT FIRE.
THIS IS THE IMPORTANT BIT: THERE IS A KNOWN ISSUE WITH THE POWER BOARDS ON THESE PRINTERS WHERE THE CONNECTIONS THAT RUN TO THE EXTRUDER AND PRINT BED HEATERS ARE NOT RATED FOR THE PROPER CURRENT. THEY WILL ABSOLUTELY BURN OUT AND MAY CATCH FIRE. Not even kidding.
(Note: I cannot speak for the Forge 3D as I personally have not used it, but the Wanhao, Monoprice, Cocoon, etc. clones have all had the same issue – it’s pretty well documented by now, so there is no reason to think the Forge 3D is any different unless someone can prove otherwise!)
There’s an article on the wiki explaining the whole thing and how to fix it. Basically remove the connectors and either direct-solder the wires or replace them with XT60 (or XT30) conenctors. It isn’t a difficult fix, but it will absolutely void your warranty. Why the manufacturers haven’t fixed this I have no idea. Monoprice put out a video that shows you how to do it, but they still crank out the faulty boards (as well as everyone else). My board failed within a week. Luckily I was in the room and smelt the burning before it got too bad, so I cut the power before it got worse. I cannot understate this: THIS IS A HUGE DEAL AND IF YOU BUY ONE OF THESE PRINTERS IT IS SOMETHING YOU SHOULD FIX ASAP. Also it should be stated to NEVER leave your printer unattended when it is printing, Never.
So is it worth it? YES. A lot of 3D printers are either closed-box proprietary systems or base bones kits that will make anyone hate 3D printing. The Monoprice Maker Select v2 is a perfect middle ground for anyone wanting to get into the hobby or who may need an inexpensive 3D printer. You can get good quality prints right out of the box, yet you have the flexibility and opportunity to achieve GREAT quality prints if you want to invest some time tinkering. Fantastic!
- Fast shipping
- Easy assembly
- Prints PLA well right out of the box
- No proprietary filaments or parts!
- Easy to print upgrades
- Large community for support
- A little noisy
- Manual bed leveling
- Print bed prone to warping over time
- Will require some mods to get truly great prints
- UPGRADE THE POWER CONNECTORS!!!
I’ve still got a lot to learn about 3D printing. There are a lot of software options out there, and each one has a plethora of options for each print. Keeping that in mind, here are a few prints I’ve done so far using a mix of filaments, software, and settings.