The Micro – small home 3D printer
Purely out of interest and for self-education, I decided to order a 3D printer for myself. The choice fell on the American printer M3D Micro, due to its neat appearance and small dimensions. I knew that I could not print big things on it, but for me the size of the printer itself played a decisive role. Believe me, due to its compactness, it can be put away in any cabinet, it will fit on any shelf and it takes up little space on the table.
By the way, I already wrote a little about this printer in the article “3D printers for the home”.
So, I ordered only the printer and did not order anything other than the printer. I decided to use plastic from a 3D pen.
The package sent via DHL took only 3 days, but for some reason it was already wrapped in Moscow. And the package went back to the sender. It came to the sender in 8 days and, having agreed with me, it was sent to me by US mail. She went by mail for 18 days. In total, from the moment of order, along with shipments and correspondence with the store, the parcel went 32 days, i.e. month.
I received a package from my post office. The yellow corrugated cardboard box was badly dented on one side. The postal worker at the checkout put it on the table a few more times, I even shuddered, thinking how this box was thrown all the way as it walked to me.
In a yellow corrugated box was a box made of thin beautiful cardboard.
Inside the box were a power adapter with a Euro plug, a USB cable for connecting to a computer, and a printer wrapped in bubble wrap.
The print head and the table (in the English version it is called the “Print bed”, i.e. “Print Bed”, but I will call it a table) are securely fixed with adhesive tape and clips.
Inside the printer was attached a brief instruction for installing and removing the table (it is filmed in the photo below).
Installing software and drivers
After unpacking, I downloaded the software from here. Here you can choose software for Linux, Windows or MAC. Before connecting the 3D printer to a computer, you need to install this software. After installation, I immediately launched the program.
Connecting a 3D printer to a computer
Connecting to a computer must be done as follows: first we connect the printer to the computer using a USB cable, then to a power outlet using an adapter.
After that, if the connection happened for the first time, the installation of the driver for the 3D printer begins, which will take some time. After installing the drivers, proprietary software may offer a firmware update. Here you need to click on the “Update Now” button.
Also, after the first start, the program will check if you have removed the clips that hold the print head: the head will move inward a little.
It is recommended to turn off the printer as follows: first, disconnect the USB cable, then, after at least 10 seconds, the power.
Before printing for the first time, the printer needs to be calibrated so that the printer knows exactly where the table is. To do this, in the program window, you need to click the button with the image of a gear, then select the “Calibration” tab, then the “Advanced Calibration” tab and click on the “Recalibrate Bed Location” button. Calibration will take no more than 5 minutes. During calibration, the printer must be on a level, stationary surface.
Installing plastic spools
There are two ways to install spools of plastic: inside the printer or outside. Inside, under the table, you can install branded small coils. There is a special hole in the print head for installation outside. For this method of installation, any coils or skeins are suitable.
I found several printable outdoor spool holders, but at first I built the holder from LEGO parts.
After you have decided on the plastic and are ready to insert it into the print head, in the program you need to click on the “3D Ink” button on the top left, then on the “INSERT FILAMENT” button.
After that, the program will ask what kind of plastic you are using. If you use branded coils, then you need to write off the number from them. And if you use third-party plastic, then you need to specify ABS or PLA. After that, click “Next”.
Then choose a color. The selected color in the program will show your modelka before printing. Click next.
Then we choose how we insert the plastic: from the inside (INTERNAL) or from the outside (EXTERNAL). I inserted from the outside, so for me it will be the “INSERT FILAMENT (EXTERNAL)” button.
After that, the nozzle will start to heat up, which the program will notify you about.
After heating, this message will appear, which means that you need to insert plastic. In this case, you need to press it until you feel that the print head is tightening it. In this case, the plastic should begin to be squeezed out of the nozzle.
After a while, the program will ask if plastic comes out of the nozzle? If you had a plastic of a different color installed before, make sure that the plastic of the right color comes out. If you still need to stretch the plastic, press “No” and the procedure will continue. If the inserted plastic is squeezing out of the nozzle and does not mix with the previous plastic, you can click “Yes”.
After that, the program will remind you to clean the nozzle, i.e. remove all extruded plastic. After that, you can click “Continue”.
After that, the resulting information about the installed plastic will be displayed: color, material and melting point.
To remove the plastic, press the “REMOVE FILAMENT” button. Before this, it is better to remove the table, because. during this operation, the nozzle rested on the table and made a recess in it, which is very bad. It seems to be some sort of bug in the software. After that, the head will begin to move to the center and a corresponding message will appear.
The head will then stop and a message will appear indicating that the nozzle is heating up.
Then the head will begin to pull through the plastic and a message will appear stating that this is necessary to prevent blockages.
Then the print head will begin to pull the plastic back. Here you need to pull on the bar, and when you feel that it has stopped moving, pull it out of the printhead completely. At this time, the following message will appear on the screen:
After a while, the program will ask you if the plastic has been removed. If you didn’t have time to pull it out, you can press “No” and continue to pull it out. If the plastic is removed, click “Yes”.
At the end, a message will appear saying that the plastic is not loaded. This window can be closed.
3D Printing on Micro 3D
Click on the “Open Model” button and open the file with the model you want to print. After that, we see the model on the table in the program. You can move the mouse around to view it from different angles. On the panel with coordinates, you can move the model on the table, rotate and scale it. The “Reset View” button sets the initial viewing angle, and the “Center Model” button centers the model in the middle of the table. After everything is ready for printing, you can click the “Print” button.
After that, a window will appear with a choice of print options. Here are selected:
- Print quality (Print Quality).
- Density of filling of internal cavities (Fill Density).
- Whether to use support (the “Use support material” checkbox).
- Whether to use model support on the model (“Use model on model support” checkbox).
- Whether to check the level of the table (“Verify level bed” checkbox).
- Whether to use wave bonding (“Use wave bonding” checkbox). When this option is enabled for the very first layer, anchor points are created approximately every 5mm to ensure the model adheres better to the print surface. It is recommended to use this function when printing large format products to prevent warping/peeling of the first layer.
- Whether to use a raft (“Use raft” checkbox). The raft is the reference layer for the model. The raft is printed first and smooths out the unevenness of the table.
- Whether to enable the skirt (“Enable skirt” checkbox). The skirt is an additional strip around the detail of the future model, which is made by a 3D printer on the table before printing starts. It does not concern the detail and the raft. The skirt helps create a smooth flow of extruded plastic from the nozzle before printing.
After the settings are configured, click the “Print” button.
After that, the preparation of the model for printing will begin first.
The program will then show how long and how long the material will take to print. At this point, you can change your mind, click “Cancel” and return to the previous window to change the print settings. If everything suits you, then you can click “Start Now” or wait until the start occurs automatically.
Then the preparation for printing will begin.
After a few seconds, a message will appear warning you that you do not need to disconnect the 3D printer from the computer during printing, otherwise it will need to be recalibrated. Click “OK”.
Next, a long process will begin, which, judging by the inscription in the program, checks the height. At this time, the head will slowly lower until it finds the table.
Then printing will start. The panel on the top right will show the percentage of work completed and the remaining time. There is also an “Abort” button, which can stop printing at any time.
And if you click on the round button with the “i” symbol, then more information about the current print will appear.
And here is the finished printed part, not yet removed from the table.
Here it is from the back, after I tore it off the table. As you can see, the raft is in all its glory.
And here is the detail after cleaning from the raft and supports.
For those who are interested in what I typed, I will tell you. This is a part of a robot doll that has movable legs, arms and head. The author of the robot is Sonya Verdu. Everything you need to assemble such a robot is here. Here are all the parts for the robot that I printed out:
And after assembly, this handsome man turned out like this:
That’s actually all I wanted to write about this printer. If you have questions, ask them in the comments.