High-Level Pros and Cons of Each Model
Pros and Cons of the MakerGear M2
The MakerGear M2 3D printer made its debut in 2012 out of Beachwood, Ohio and is now currently on the fifth generation of the M2 series.
One the revisions to this 3D printer, which many people say is a plus, is that it has all metal parts and none that are printed. Additionally, it comes with a tutorial video and an updated user guide.
Along the same lines, another plus of the MakerGear M2 is its steel frame and machined cast aluminum construction. This enables you to print to precision and leave a small footprint on the environment.
Additionally, the MakerGear M2 is pre-assembled, meaning that it’s ready to use right out of the box. You can use your favorite filament to bring your creation to life or use a MakerGear filament. It can handle both:
- PLA or
- ABS material, and even a few others such as
- Flexible PLA and
You can buy this printer directly from MakerGear or head over to Amazon. Either way you’re looking to spend around $2,000.
This 3D printer is one of the highest rated and most-owned 3D printers.
While the MakerGear M2 is one of the most universally owned 3D printers, there are a few possible drawbacks to consider.
One of which is the build volume, which may or may not be a problem depending on what you’re building. The build volume is 8”x8”x10”, so perfect for a home hobby, but maybe not great for some major, large-scale projects.
Another thing to consider is that it does not come with an enclosed printing area. Perhaps this is a good thing so you can watch your design come to life, however, you just have to keep in mind the temperature and humidity of the room. Too much humidity can cause issues with the filament and cause the extruder to jam.
Another drawback is that it only comes with one extruder. This limits you from printing in multiple colors. And even though it comes ready to use out-of-the-box, some users have shared it’s not the easiest printer to learn.
According to reviews on Amazon, you’ll have to do lots of tweaking to get it working just right.
But it seems once you’ve mastered this printer, you’ll be one happy printing enthusiast.
Coming in with a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars from 248 ratings on Amazon, perhaps if you have the patience to learn, or perhaps you’re someone who is very familiar with 3D printers already, this could be a great fit for you.
Pros and Cons of the Replicator 2
The maker of the Replicator 2 is the company MakerBot, now operated by Stratasys Incorporated. MakerBot has been around a bit longer than MakerGear, being established in 2009. They offer three different kinds of 3D printers, including the Replicator 2.
The Replicator 2 is definitely one of the most popular printers from MakerBot because it does offer some major pros.
Right off the bat, it has a considerable build volume of 7.6″W x 11.6″L x 6.5″H. You’ll definitely have the space to do some substantial printing.
Another pro of the Replicator 2 is that it offers 100 micron layer resolution, which means it has one of the industry’s highest resolutions.
A micron is the same as one millionth of a meter referring to height, so 100 microns is equal to 0.1mm. The lower the micron, the higher the resolution will be.
The Replicator 2 also comes with dual extruders, which is something many 3D printing professionals want. That’s because with dual extruders, you can print in multiple colors to really bring your creation to life, depending on what your goals are.
One of the best pros of the Replicator 2 is that it is literally a plug and play printer. While the MakerGear M2 is ready out of the box, there are a few things you need to install before being able to use it. With this machine, you can literally take it out of the box, plug it in, load the PLA spool, and hit the button.
One more perk of the Replicator 2 is that once you purchase it, you have access to the MakerBot community. This could be very helpful if you have questions or need to connect with others for inspiration.
This printer costs the same as the MakerGear M2, which is around $2,000. However, depending where you shop, it could cost more.
Before reaching for your wallet, you also have to consider some of the possible cons of this machine.
One being that it does not use ABS filament. Depending on what kind of filament you prefer to use, this could be a major issue.
Also, by looking at the reviews on Amazon, this printer comes across a little less satisfactory than the MakerGear M2. It only has 123 reviews and the average rating is 3.3 out of 5 stars.
Both of these printers seem to deliver the basics of any 3D printing, but when looking closer at the details there are some decisions you need to make in order to pick the best one for you.
Here are side-by-side comparisons of all the details with these 3D printers.
What Are You Printing?
When it comes between selecting the best 3D printer based on your needs, one of the most important things to keep in mind is what you plan to print. How you plan to use the 3D printer, is a major determinant as to which model to purchase. Remember, not all models can use the same filament.
There are literally thousands of things you can make with a 3D printer! Here are a few popular options and the recommended filament options.
If you want to print some new coasters, a nifty soap holder, or a desk supply caddy, you’ll want to look for a 3D printer that uses PLA, ABS, or PETG filament.
These are best because these are most likely objects that will stay inside the home and not be exposed to sunlight.
Maybe you’re hoping to design and print something that is destined to stay outside, perhaps a lawn ornament. You definitely need to use a filament that can withstand the light and the moisture.
One filament you can use is PETG, which stands for polyethylene-glycol. This is a type of co-polyester and it will survive any outside conditions. It is:
- Resistant to UV rays,
- Recyclable, and
An object made with PETG may show some discoloration over a long time if it’s left in direct sunlight.
ASA, or acrylonitrile styrene acrylate, is another option. It’s very similar to ABS, however it is UV resistant. With that in mind, objects made with ASA can stay out in the sun, rain, and wind and not experience any deterioration or discoloration.
The only issue is that it’s a little bit harder to print with ASA.
Polycarbonate, or PC, is another option. Though it seems to be the one filament that is the hardest to work with. It is a very durable plastic, UV resistant, and weather-resistant.
ABS, (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) while it is similar to an engineering-grade plastic, will discolor if left outside. Eventually, the object will begin to break down. An object made out of ABS could last if you plan to place it in a more shaded and protected area.
While PLA (polylactic acid) is an inexpensive filament, it is the worst choice to use for any outdoor object. It is not strong enough to withstand sunlight, heat, or moisture.
If left outside, the object would eventually melt and become deformed.
Technology and art have found a happy marriage through 3D printing. Artists can create some mind-blowing sculptures, jewelry, and other pieces of art using 3D printers.
The best filament is based on what kind of artwork that you will print.
PLA is a good option to consider because it is odorless when heated, holds its shape, and doesn’t warp.
There are also some fun options, including glow-in-the-dark PLA!
ABS can be an option if you’re able to post-process it in acetone because it will leave you with a glossy finish.
Resin could also be an option.
3D printers that are made to use resin tend to be more precise.
So if you’re working on small, intricate pieces this may be a good fit.
How to Best Evaluate 3D Printers
This article provides a ton of information to compare the MakerGear M2 and the Replicator 2. But there are also many other 3D printers beyond just these two.
So, what should you be really paying attention to when deciding which one is the best for you?
- Budget—Of course, your budget is going to be the top priority. Budgets will vary from $150 to nearly $30,000. But again, depending on your goals you may not need to go all out on the most expensive 3D printer.
- How often will you use it?—This is a very important question to ask yourself and it’s also related to your budget. Depending on which one you buy, it can be a very expensive and steep learning curve to tackle.
- Know what you want to print –This is another one of the most important things to know when buying a 3D printer. What you want to print can drastically change your choice.
- What is your preferred printer style—Both the MakerGear M2 and the Replicator 2 use filaments, which is a hot plastic. But do you need a printer that uses liquid resin? There are actually some printers that use powder!
- Where to buy—You can buy your printer online or visit a regional store. Amazon is a great place to browse as the prices tend to be the same or even lower than the regional stores, its easy to use, and they offer good return policies.
- Where to buy, part 2— If you buy from other sites, just pay attention where it’s being shipped from to avoid customs and shipping delays. You can check out some other online buying options here.
- Build Area/ Volume—Are you cranking out items to sell or are you hoping to expand on a hobby? If you want to learn how to work a 3D printer for fun, a smaller build area is perfect. However, if you’re looking to expand a business, a larger build area is important.
- Precision – You’ll want to pay attention to the resolution. This means how accurately is the 3D printer going to print. This is also known as “layer resolution”. Also the size of the nozzle is important. You want to go as small as possible.
- Speed –If you need to crank out several items, then you definitely want to pick a 3D printer that is fast. The standard speed is around 100mm/second.
- Warranty – This can be very important because it doesn’t matter which 3D printer you buy, eventually it will require some kind of maintenance or part replacement.
- Part replacement costs—If you do need to replace a part and your warranty is expired, then keeping in mind how much replacing those parts will cost is also critical. Obviously the nozzle will need changed, but keep in mind other things such as the cooling fan and the build platform.
- Easy-to-use—Depending on your knowledge level, some printers are easier to use than others. Unless you like to be challenged, it’s definitely something to consider. Some can be used right from the box, while others require assembly.
- Safety—Perhaps this is something not at the top of your list, but is an added bonus when looking for a 3D printer. Try to see what safety features are available, such as an automatic cooling nozzle once the job is done or the nozzle that automatically moves away from the finished product.
Pros and Cons of 3D Printers
The good news is that 3D printers are more affordable than ever.
You can let your imagination take over, design something incredible, and watch it become reality right before your eyes.
It can also be overwhelming because there are just so many options and so many things to consider when selecting the right 3D printer.
Based on the pros and cons of the MakerGear M2 and the Replicator 2, both are good choices. You’ll need to consider:
- What you want to print,
- What kind of filament is best for your print job, and
- If you want the out-of-the-box experience.
You may have also determined that neither is a good fit and you need to continue your search. Check out some of the best 3D printers for 2020 here.