As technology improves and designers and manufacturers re-invent 3D printers, the cost of these machines continue to become more affordable. The $600 price tag that brought excitement to budget 3D printers has now subsided. So cheap has the price of 3D printers become that for about $200, you can get one and start your 3D printing experience. One of the cheap 3D printers available on the market is the Monoprice MP Select Mini.
Read on to see if this printer is worth the buy.
History of the Monoprice MP Select 3D Printer
Monoprice is a US based technology company behind the Monoprice Mini 3D printer. The 3D printer was originally known as the Malyan M200 and was made in China. Monoprice private-labeled the printer and started offering it for a low price of $199. The Monoprice Select Mini is one of the cheapest 3D printers on the market.
Monoprice offers free replacement of their printers should the one you buy fail to work.
Unlike 3D printers like the Tiko, M3D, Trinus and OLO/ONO that basked in Kickstarter crowd funding projects, this budget 3D printer made its way to a household names due to its cheap price.
Unpacking and Assembling
Setting up the Monoprice MP Select is relatively easy and can be completed in 20 minutes.
The contents of the package include the MP Select printer, a hex key for leveling the bed platform, a micro USB cable and a microSD card with 256MB storage space, a dinky plastic spatula for scraping prints off the bed, an AC power adapter and a rectangular length of folded sheet metal. This is a spool holder which clips onto the main unit from the inside. Finally, there is the instructions booklet which also has a URL to the complete online manual of the printer.
The Monoprice package does not come with any filament. You should therefore order the filaments (1.75mm spool of PLA filament) with the machine or separately.
This printer has a full color LCD interface with a setup click-wheel. Its interface is user-friendly with clearly structured menus for the calibration process, preheating the hotend and load the filament.
You need to slide a sheet of paper between the printbed and the hotend to calibrate the printer. Use the hex key to tweak the springs at each print bed corner.
The heated bed is an aluminum plate with no protective covering, except for a sheet of build tape. The tape will degrade quickly with prolonged use. Therefore, it helps to have a roll of extra replacement tape.
Another item you should have is a generic power adapter. The AC power adapter available in he package tends to die within 12 hours of use. This can be frustrating if you haven’t completed your print. So just get the generic adapter for about $30, just in case.
Design and Build Quality
The Monoprice Select Mini has a compact and versatile build quality. It looks like a tank but is sturdy and portable. The printer’s electronics are housed in a folded sheet metal.
The Select Mini has a single fan for cooling the nozzle. This can limit the type of filaments you can use with this machine. The machine is a Cartesian style fused filament fabrication (FFF) printer. One side of the printer has an arm that holds the print bed.
The extruder diameter of the hotend is 0.4mm and can heat up to 230 degrees Celsius. Replacing the nozzle can be a bit challenging though. The customer care team can help you in case you encounter any problems when trying to replace the nozzle.
The main pillar of the 3D printer has a spring-loaded, quick-release extruder with a steel gear. This design allows feeding the filament to the hotend using a Bowden cable setup. The machine has a Z-home micro switch that alerts it to stop lowering the head to avoid crashing into the build plate.
MP Select Mini has wireless connectivity. The control interface will alert you whether Wi-Fi has been activated or deactivated.
Features and Specifications
- Build Area: It has a build area of 120 x 120 x 120mm
- Print Resolution: The highest print resolution with this printer is 100 microns
- Printig Speed: The printer has a printing speed of 55mm per second. It also has a heated build plate.
- MicroSD card slot: You can upload files to the printer using the microSD card slot or a USB connection.
- Slicing software: The printer is compatible with the Cura, Simplify3D, ReplicatorG or Repetier-Host. The printer can parse any standard GCode when you’re preparing your objects for printing.
- Filament Type: The Monoprice MP Select Mini accepts any standard 1.75mm spool of ABS or PLA thermoplastic.
We love the MP Select Mini for its open ended filament and software use. Some 3D printer manufacturers like XYZ and M3D lock you into operational ecosystem by limiting the type of filament or software their printers can use.
Quality of Print
For our test print, we started with the pair of 3D models; an elephant and a cat, which were preloaded on the microSD card. We printed these with a resolution of 200 microns.
We did not have a big challenge when printing the elephant, which we did at 10% infill. We were impressed with how the printer handles things like overhangs and bridging. The retraction was also so tight that we had no stringing.
On the other hand, we were somewhat disappointed with the outcome of the cat. Although the details started out fine and clear, the final layers started misbehaving and repeated attempts gave the same results. The cats’ ears and paws were all garbled up.
When we analyzed the GCode in Simplify3D, we discovered that the print head might be speeding up at the final layers (in limits of 55mm/s), which could have been the reason for the repeated failure.
The next test prints we did were for our own models. We used Cura, which is the recommended software by MP Select Mini, and used the settings from John Biehler’s review.
We printed one 3DBenchy at 100 microns and 10% infill and another at 200 microns and 10% infill. We then printed a low-poly MAOI bust with 30% infill. We also printed a V29 whistle at 100% infill and 200 microns,and a Graphica Mega Ghost at 10% infill and 200 microns.
Except for some noticeable “totter” of the layers on the prow of the boat, the 3DBenchy we printed at 100 microns was impressive both on the quality of the detailing and its compactness. The low-poly Maoi also had some overhang on the chin but the rest of the body was perfectly printed.
The model printed on 200 micron also had fine details of basic components. We were particularly happy with how the Graphica Mega Ghosts’ long tongue perfectly printed with a smooth glide and the tongues hinge in one piece. Also, the chambers for the V29 whistle printed successfully and the whistle sounded as loud as we had expected.
Generally, the MP Select Mini didn’t have major problems with overhangs and small unsupported spans. The layers remained fairly consistent along the Y and X axes. However, there were occasional appearance of zits and blobs, and
Failed prints were mostly seen when we limited the amount of adhesive glue on the printbed or when the filament spool snagged itself. These two are as a result of occupational hazard of FFF printing and not the Monoprice MP Select itself.
We also had a cavil with the hotend temperature. This always seemed to have a margin error of about 5 degrees Celsius between the control panel temperature and the set temperature. For instance, the control panel would hover between 223 and 227 degrees Celsius if we set it at 225 degrees Celsius.
MP Select Mini 3D Printer Upgrades
There is no official upgrade options yet for this printer. However, some manufacturers are considering hacking the printer to upgrade its performance. Some of the best fixes to date that have been listed by Hackaday include adding the traditionally accepted adapter for E3D V6 hotend, which is considered the standard for 3D printing desktop.
We think that the most urgent upgrade should be for fixing the temperature control. Hackaday has comprehensive instructions for tuning the proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controller for more consistent performance.
Also, if you badly need to activate your wireless connectivity, you could download and install the original Malyan M200 firmware. However, this could make your warranty void or even break your machine.
Monoprice Select Mini V2 vs V1
The Monoprice Select Mini V2 was brought into the market in 2017. This is an upgraded version of the Monoprice Select Mini V1. The two printers are essentially the same but the V2 has some new features, including:
- Available in two colors: white and black
- Larger, more tactile rotary dial for the LCD controls
- An all-metal hotend that looks like that of the E3D V6 hotend
- The build surface has been increased
- Additional insulation on the build plate
- Has a fan on the bottom to improve airflow across the mainboard
The Monoprice V1 is no longer available on the market as it’s been replaced by the Monoprive V2. The V2 printer is available for the same price like the Monoprice V1 but has better features and performance.
Pros of Monoprice MP Select Mini
- Sturdy design
- Reliable results at low speed prints
- Works with standard filament type
- Works with most Slicers
- Easy to operate
- Very affordable
Cons of Monoprice MP Select Mini
- The wireless feature has been deactivated
- Calibration can be challenging
- Strange quirks
- High Speed Prints become messed up
- Hotend temperature is inconsistent
- Power brick is faulty
- Unprotected build plate
Monoprice MP Select Mini 3D Printer Verdict
Monoprice MP Select Mini is one of the cheapest 3D printers on the market (check current price). The device produces consistent prints, has a heated printbed, and it’s very easy to use.
However, it has a difficult calibration process, the AC power brick provided is unreliable, there’s a discourse with variable temperatures, and fails to print at high speeds.
Since this is a cheap 3D machine, the cons can be excused. Moreover, you can upgrades the unsatisfactory features; maybe upgrade the firmware, put down some glass for the printbed, and change the hotend. These changes will transform your machine and place it in the class of more expensive 3D printing machines.
All in all, the Monoprice MP Select Mini is, arguably, the best 3D printer for beginners. The quality of the prints it produces is desirable and any 3D enthusiast would love using it.
The cheap price of this printer will make you look at its features and benefits from a new angle. Although its print quality cannot compete with the likes of BCN3D Sigma or Ultimaker 2+, it is still way above most 3D printers in its price range.
This is the best 3D printer for hobbyists or newbies looking to get into 3D printing but have a small budget. However, if you wish to use it in a studio environment or any other small business, you will be disappointed with its the strange quirks and small build volume.
Overall, the Monoprice Select Mini printer is simple and easy to use. The printer provides a great opportunity for teachers, students and beginners to learn the basics of 3D printing and modeling. Moreover, its price is way low for the value it offers, which is similar to that of 3D printer that cost even three times more.