Makergear M2 at First Glance
I ordered the MakerGear M2 kit on 4/23/2013. The kit shipped on 6/5/2013 and was delivered on 6/7/2013.
The M2 is available in both kit and assembled form. The parts in the kit are well labeled as shown below.
The nuts, bolts, and washers are all arranged in small marked bags.
Two AC adapter bricks are used to provide power to the M2. The small one is a 19V power supply and is used to power the motors and extruder. The large power supply is rated at 12V and is used to power the heated bed. The logic side of the controller board is powered by the USB connector coming from the PC.
I don't mind the two bricks, but they are wired directly to the RAMBO via a couple connectors. This means you have to transport the two power supplies while still connected to the M2, as the connectors not designed to be used as a removable power connector. Continued plugging and unplugging will cause problems later. This system also means you don't have a master switch to power down the M2. This design begs for a future mod.
The M2 uses the Rambo controller board shown below. This is one of the most powerful and versatile boards available for 3D printing. It has a separate power input for the heated bed so you can utilize a power source different from the source you use for the controller. In addition you can add an extra extruder, as well as additional sensors and fans.
The kit comes partially assembled, shown below. The instructions were simple to follow, and the it took me about 6 hours to assemble the M2. The M2 comes with most of the tools you will need to assemble the unit. I think the only other tool I used was a 7mm wrench.
The M2 uses an aluminum spider (shown below) to hold various build platforms. The small rubber pieces on the end of the spider arms hold the platform in place. The inserts are 8" x 10" so you can purchase standard glass or acrylic inserts from your local home center.
The M2 comes with an aluminum platform (shown below) that has a heated bed attached to the bottom.
It has connectors that allow you to attach it to your controller.
The M2 also comes with a borosilicate glass platform that can be used with or without the heated bed. Small clips are provided for use when attached to heated bed.
You can also provide your own platforms. Here is a piece of acrylic that I use when printing with PLA types that wont stick the heated glass.
The M2 is compatible with the current range of open source software currently available. Instead of using the open source Repetitive and slic3r software I decided to use the commercial software called Creator. You can purchase the software directly from Simplify 3D. I will be covering this software in an upcoming article in Servo Magazine and on this web site in the near future. But needless to say it is several steps above anything currently available.
Just how does the M2 and Creator combination perform?
After assembling the M2 I loaded up the Creator software and selected the M2 profile in the Process section of the software. The hollow cube below is the best I have produced with any of my printers. Its even better than the one printed on the Afinia and that one used supports.
Note that the PLA filament that I used for this print does not stick to heated glass, so I used the acrylic platform shown above as my build platform. This particular PLA filament works great with acrylic.
Next, the Mr Jaws print. It came out perfect.
See the Mr Jaws print in action here:
Here is my M2 printing an object with supports added with Creator.
7/23/2013-Power Source Problems
MakerGear has decided to provide a 19V as the main power source. While the Rambo controller board can support this it does present some problems. For one the Z axis stepper motor runs very hot. I recommend putting a fan on this motor. If you don't its life will be shortened. Speaking of fans, that is the second problem. Connecting a 12v fan to the extruder or bed fan positions can burn up the fan if it runs a 100%. I know because I have burnt up three fans. This also means you cant connect power LED's or other cooling fans to any of the 12V headers on the board.
I'm about to do some fan mods and will be posting the results in the near future.
10/30/2013-Extruder Overtemp Problems
I had some problems with early extrusions. After some troubleshooting I found the problem to be the extruder was running several degrees hotter than the sensor was picking up. I ended up putting more tape on the sensor to pull it tighter to the nozzle. I also added a little dab of heat sink compound to the sensor to ensure a better transfer of heat between the nozzle and sensor.
This seems to have solved the problem.