Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer Review

As my long-time readers may recall, a few years ago I bought a Rostock MAX and never had any success with it. Ultimately, I had to admit to myself that I was not enough of a tinkerer to actually use a DIY 3D printer.

Then earlier this year I heard about the MP Select Mini. Everyone seems to agree on the basics: It is a printer that you can literally take out of the box and get an OK print out of, but on the other hand it is a printer with a lot of limitations and is perhaps less durable than you'd wish.

At $200 for the printer itself, I felt I could give it a try. My actual order price was $234.79 shipped, with a 1kg spool of filament.

Things initially started out rocky: I had intended to order PLA, but ordered ABS by mistake. ABS is harder to print with, and honestly the Select Mini seems to be somewhere between "marginal" and "useless" with ABS. Initially, my prints did not adhere at all, but later after tweaking I had limited success. At the same time, I decided I simply had to order a spool of PLA, and paid extra to be sure it would be delivered on Friday (yesterday). Update: Six months later, I finally found the secret to good results in ABS.

Hoo boy, PLA simply prints wonderfully on this printer. I haven't fine-tuned the printer (such as making sure I'm not under- or over-extruding) but "art" prints like the Lucky Cat and technical but not dimension-critical prints like the hinged filament oiler come out looking and feeling great. I'm using 150um layer thickness, so everything is banded, but all the axes keep position perfectly, the extruder works well so far, overhangs consistently look good, and there are a minimum of snots.

On the other hand, before a closely dimensioned print like the E3D extruder adapter or mechanically mating pieces like the nautilus gears will work, I will have to do some fine tuning of the extrusion parameters.

I'm keeping a spreadsheet of every usable print and every expense. So far, including the print on the table, I've spent around $23 per print. Once I work through my initial list of ideas, I'll be down to $11/print or so.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake (twice!) of ordering black filament, so prints are really not photogenic. On my to-buy list are natural/clear PLA and some non-black, non-white PLA. I do have a small gallery of my prints on google photos: https://goo.gl/photos/Q71HRLSxzLvqSdt7A

The single biggest piece of advice I wish I'd had right away was: if you get underextrusion with clicks from the extruder during the first layer, the bed is too high; it's not that the nozzle is clogged or any other problem with the hot end. Stop panicing and turn the setscrews another 1/6 turn.

Summary: for me, this is an excellent printer. It lets me get down to the business of learning the software end of things, and the most mechanically difficult things I have had to do so far are level the bed and change the filament. If that sounds like the relationship you'd like to have with an entry-level 3D printer, consider the Select Mini.

Software: Debian Jessie, OpenSCAD 2014.03, Cura 2.3.1, Printrun.git

Community: MP Select Mini wiki, thingiverse, freenode #reprap

Entry first conceived on 19 November 2016, 19:08 UTC, last modified on 3 May 2017, 0:38 UTC
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