MakerGear, located in Beachwood, Ohio, USA, was founded in 2009 by Rick Pollack who owned one of the earliest version of a desktop 3D printer. Like other 3D printing enthusiast at that time, Pollack was having a hard timing getting successful prints and put his time and effort into designing and building his own improved extruders. MakerGear was born when Pollack began selling his quality extruders through various on-line 3D printing communities. It was not long until the MakerGear name was synonymous with precision and quality.
In 2011 MakerGear introduced the M1 Mosaic. During that same year Pollack started taking CNC machining classes because he wanted something better than the laser cut laminated wood frames that were the norm of 3D printers at the time. In 2012 MakerGear launched the M2 3D printer. Leveraging his machining knowledge, Pollack designed and fabricated the M2 with a stainless steel frame and machined components.
Many of the components for the M2 printer are fabricated within 25 miles of the Beachwood, OH location and other, off-the-shelf components such as stepper motors and power supplies are sourced from China which is a hotbed of 3D printer innovation and manufacturing.
The MakerGear M2 has a price of $1825.00 and is one of the most solid and best built 3D printers on the market and is sold around the world in over 75 countries. In this post, I provide a detailed review the M2.
Key Features Of The M2
The M2 is what I call an open format 3D printer meaning that the print area is not enclosed. Open format printers enable you to access and view all sides of your component while it is printing and generally have larger build volumes than enclosed format printers.
The build surface is supported by a beefy aluminum ‘X-shaped’ structure and the build plate itself is heated borosilicate glass. Glass is a favored print surface as it enables easier removal of your printed components.
With a whopping 8″ x 10″ x 8″ build volume and a direct drive extruder system, you will be able to build some rather large components out of essentially any filament though the open format design may give some challenges with filament materials that are sensitive to temperature swings.
The M2 is designed for use with open source slicing software. MakerGear recommends Slid3R and also offers Simplify3D as an upgrade.
A hallmark of the quality and industrial-level construction of the MakerGear M2 is its solid steel frame and precision machined, cast aluminum gantry structures. Kevlar reinforced drive belts help maintain the accuracy of X-Y extruder positioning over time.
As a final quality control check, every M2 is a6 hour test print prior to shipment and MakerGear offers a 6-month warranty that is upgradable to 12 months. The hot end, however is only warrantied if MakerGear filament is used.
Replacement parts under warranty shipped free in US though there is $100 charge to return printers if you haven’t saved the original box.
Though this is a solid, well-built 3D printer, MakerGear insures your printer arrives intact by protecting their printers with custom solid foam inserts for shipment. Click here for a video on how to unpack your M2 printer.
Included with the M2 is a 1 kg spool PLA, extra build plate hold down clips, a feeler gauge for bed leveling, polyimide tape for adhesion, required hex drivers for assembly, an SD card and USB cord.
Set Up And Operation Of The M2
The M2 arrives essentially fully assembled. Initial set-up is straightforward and consists of the following steps:
- Mount filament spool holder
- Connect and plug in power cord
- Install drivers on your computer (simply follow machine prompts just like installing a printer)
- Level the print surface
- Heat print surface and extruders
- Load filament
- Print test piece
Leveling the print surface is the only set up step that requires a bit of iteration. MakerGear makes this step pretty easy via guided instructions. In short, to level the print surface you raise or lower the surface so that you can just move the provided feeler gauge under the nozzle at 5 locations around the surface. The system will then instruct you to turn the hex screws on the underside of the print surface support accordingly.
MakerGear makes set up a breeze with their Quick Start tutorial that you download after registering your printer.
Complete M2 Specifications
Build Volume: 200 mm (8″) x 250 mm (10″) x 200 mm (8″)
Build Plate: 110 °C and higher. Borosilicate glass print bed with laminated, replaceable print surface.
Build Plate Leveling: 4 point leveling. Level out of the box. Leveling assisted by quick start app.
Filament Feed: Direct (non-Bowden).
Max Extruding Temp: 40 W heater and thermistor rated to 300 °C.
Layer Resolution: 50 micron with a 0.35 mm nozzle.
Max Print Speed: 450 mm/sec maximum.
Operating Sound: lower than 65 dBA
Machine Weight: 12 kg (26.5 lbs.)
Machine Dimensions: Width x Depth x Height: 533 mm (21″) x 610 mm (24″) x 420 mm (16.5″).
AC input: 100 – 120 V (4 A)/220 – 240 V (2 A), 47 – 63 Hz
Power requirements: 24 V DC @ 15 A
Power consumption: 360 W max
Software: Simplify3D recommended. Compatible with open-source and commercially available modeling, slicing, and printer control software.
Connectivity: SD Card Reader, USB connection to computer, LCD machine control optional
Available Accessories And Upgrades
The M2 ships with a 0.35 nozzle orifice. Nozzles with 0.25 mm, 0.5 mm and 0.75 mm orifices are available for $10 each. To change out nozzles, you will need to remove the entire hot end via a clamping screw. MakerGear advises having a separate hot end for each nozzle size to make changeover easier. Hot ends with nozzle attached can be purchased for $75.
Other upgrades/accessories include:
- Simplify3D software $149
- LCD user interface $99 enables controlling printer without computer hooked up
- Spare parts set $110 includes 1-V4 filament drive, 1- 40mm fan, 1- 50mm fan, 1- thermistor, 1- V4 cartridge heater, 1-V4 hot end
- Dual V4 extruder configuration $299
To convert your M2 into a dual extruder 3D printer you remove the existing single extruder assembly including the fan assembly, filament driver, motor, wiring bracket, motor mount and drive belt clamp and install the dual extruder components:
- dual extruder mounting plate assembly
- belt clamp
- motor bracket assembly
- mounting both motors
- connect wiring to printer motherboard
- connect wiring and thermistors to motors and fan assembly
- connect filament drive assembly
- attach covers and fan duct assembly
- attach filament guides and new filament holder
You are guided through dual extruder conversion with a full instruction manual with photos showing details of each assembly step including setting tension for filament drive mechanism.
Summary And Rating
The M2 3D Printer from MakerGear is a well-built machine designed for industrial use but reasonable enough in price for the home user who demands American-made quality.
The dual extruder upgrade option is a great feature that allows you to build up your 3D printing knowledge before committing to the challenges of multi-material printing. You may find that single extruder printing is all you need.
The other big, stand out feature that I like about this machine is the steel support frame and machined gantry structures. You will be able to readily handle and move this printer around your shop without worrying about damaging the structure or knocking something out of alignment.
Overall, I give the MakerGear M2 a rating 4 out of 5.
- Price 3
- Build Volume 5
- Print Surface 5
- Ease Of Use 3
- Extruders 4
- Construction 5
- Warranty 3
Though you can find printers with larger build volumes and dual extruders at a lower price, you will be hard-pressed to find one as solidly built as the M2 that is also easily upgradable.
If you have a healthy budget for your 3D printer purchase, you won’t be disappointed with the MakerGear M2.
If you have experience using or other information on the MakerGear M2, I’d love to get your insights and feedback in the comments section below.
What will you create?