Monoprice MP Select Mini V2: First Impressions

2019-05-18

I've wanted a 3D printer pretty much from the moment I learned of their existence. After all these years, for a multitude of reasons, I never really got around to purchasing one. Recently I began to yet again entertain the idea, and after a bit of research (and probably a few too many beers) I finally decided to finally pull the trigger.

The Printer

I ended up going with the Monoprice MP Select Mini V2. There are a number of other great entry-level options, but this checked all the right boxes for me while many of the alternatives had at least one aspect that left a bad taste in my mouth. This printer was chosen primarily due to its price (including tax it came in at under $300 CAD!), its size (which is important for an apartment dweller such as myself), as well as the number of positive reviews I had encountered. As a bonus, there seems to be an active online community providing resources on modding/upgrading, and even a wiki dedicated to this particular printer.

The Select Mini V2 boasts pretty modest specifications, but given its cost and footprint I'm more than pleased with its capabilities. It is compatible with a number of materials including ABS, PLA, and even some more exotic ones, and has a total build area of 120mm (4.7") in all three dimensions. It should be more than enough for most beginners, and I think for an entry-level printer it's a hell of a deal.

Setup

Since the printer comes fully assembled, there's not much to do in the way of setup. It was very well packaged which definitely left a good first impression. Once removed from the box, the filament spool arm and power adapter can be connected, and the filament fed through to the extruder. At this point, the printer is essentially ready for use.

Once powered on, I first took some time to level the bed the best I could, which was set surprisingly well from the factory. After a few minutes of tweaking I was confident it was reasonably level, and decided to just get to it and run my first test print.

This particular printer can be controlled via a USB connection to a PC, over Wi-Fi with help from the mobile app, or by simply uploading .gcode files to the micro SD card and running them straight from the printer. Since I'm impatient, I decided to start off with the supplied sample print, cat.gcode.

Testing

Right away I encountered a minor issue. The heated bed maxes out at roughly 65°C, which is not quite hot enough for ABS, which is happier closer to 110°C. There appear to be some modifications that will allow the bed to get hotter, and this is something I'll likely look into in the future, but for the time being I decided to just use PLA as I don't really have a preference either way.

Regardless, I loaded up some PLA and started my first print. A few hours later the print had finished, and while it took a bit longer than I expected (this printer isn't exactly fast, though it's not slow either), it turned out with a great finish. The PLA stuck to the bed a little too well, and I had to pry the brim up using a razor just to free the print; still, I'll happily take this over constant lifting.

At this point I was pretty confident the printer was in good working order.

Wrapping Up

I'm really still just getting acquainted with this machine, so I'm sure I have plenty of learning left ahead of me. I definitely plan on modifying the bed heater to allow me to properly print ABS at some point.

I've select Ultimaker Cura as my slicing software, and am still hunting for a new CAD solution that I'm happy with. I was able to slice up a couple of models from Thingiverse and print them without any issues, though I definitely still need to play with the default parameters a bit.

I haven't yet connected the printer to a PC or tried connecting to Wi-Fi, but I'm sure I will get around to doing so shortly. Swapping an SD card around is getting pretty old already, so I'd prefer to avoid having to do that.

Overall I'm very happy with this purchase, and look forward to learning more about this machine and 3D printing in general.