After reading The MagPi issue 69 I think that the itch of 3D printing had solidly re-emerged in me. About five years ago, I was very close to building one from scratch, but cost really kept me away. In the issue, MagPi shows off a $100 kit printer, and lets face it - for $100 you really can’t go wrong.
Like any good nerd I started learning everything that I could about that one. Two of the major barriers were that it was on a multi month back order, which I really don’t have patience for and the other was the eight plus hour build time - between all of the other things in this season of life there really isn’t eight hours to build a printer to be had.
That’s when more research was needed - were there other printers out there that came pre-assembled that didn’t stink? After yet more research, the Monoprice Mini Delta seemed like a good fit. But Monoprice? I had already bought from them for years on things such as their headphones and usb cables - never having an issue so I figured I’d give them a shot.
At the time of writing, the Monoprice Mini Deltais $179.99 on Amazon with shipping included. That’s about $50 more more than the kit that I was looking at, but if you do the math, $50 divided by at least 8 hours is not a lot of money. That and the features the delta has really make it worth the extra money assembly included or not!
One of the really great things about this printer is how beginner friendly it is. One of the features that it has which are usually reserved for higher end printers is a self leveling bed. Self leveling is where the print head touches the printing surface to get a reference of it. On other printers in this price point they usually are a crude form of wheels that need to be manually adjusted.
Having a heated bed is a great feature that allows you to print both PLA and ABS plastics. In general, it makes the bed a little stickier than it would be otherwise. Depending on the ambient temperature it really makes a difference.
Its a Delta
That’s kind of in the name of the Monoprice Mini Delta, but it is a key feature. This lets the little robot printer speed along with really fast and accurate prints. Despite what many of the other reviews are on-line this also makes the printer relatively quiet, and a whole lot quieter than the Cricut Explore that is used for ShraderLand Designs decals!
It kind of needs to be mentioned here that the printer comes with wifi, but we’ve never used it. That’s because the printer has always been used with an AstroBox Gateway Raspberry Pi 3 Kit, which we’ll cover in a future post. It is nice though that we do have the option though.
The Mini Delta prints great. So good in fact that most of the tool prints that we’ve made have been on draft mode with just a little more in fill. By the way all of the prints have been made 100% on a Chromebook using AstroPrint. Since getting the Delta, it has been going almost non-stop on the weekends and evenings, so it’s a little work horse.
There really isn’t a lot to complain about with the Mini Delta, the only real suggestion would be to have a power button and that can be fixed with a cheap power strip.
We did have one of the bowden connectors fail on a print sending about four feet PLA all over. This prompted a call to customer service where we were surprised with how friendly the staff was. When we explained the issues the rep offered to send us a new machine since they didn’t have a part that they could send.
We had already priced out the replacement part at gigdigit for $2.00 and opted to order it from there instead of getting a whole new machine. It was awesome that Monoprice stands behind the machine that much. Try getting that type of service from the $100 kit!
Sometimes words don’t paint a vivid enough picture of how cool a 3D printer can be. Here are a few examples of tools printed on the Monoprice Mini Delta.
We found these on http://thingiverse.com/ and are a collection of items that other folks have posted on there
The camera mount is a blend of multiple items and snaps right on the side of the printer.
Here’s a multiple part print - don’t worry there is a new camera on the way for the printer!
The Monoprice Mini Delta is a solid yes for buying if you are looking to get into the 3D printing hobby. We think this so much that there are actually two of the Monoprice Mini Delta in the family now. They are ready to print right out of the box, and fairly reliable. While they are not the biggest or fastest out there, they are amazing at their price point in both cash and your time, which a lot of folks seem to forget about when pricing out a 3D printer!
Always follow the manufacturers instructions, this write up is simply the way that I do it, and it may or may not be the right way. Use your common sense when applying products to or altering your stuff and always wear the appropriate safety gear.
Links to the other posts in the 3D Printing series
- 3D Printing from a Chromebook
- Monoprice Mini Delta