Small Business 3D Printers: A Beginner's Guide - Page 3

By Ted Needleman | Posted February 04, 2016

Small Business 3D Printer Reviews

2. Monoprice Dual Extruder Model 11614

Price: $699.99

If you're not afraid of some assembly and adjustment, the Monoprice Dual Extruder 11614 offers good value. The powder-coated black metal printer measures 18.7- x 12.7- x 15.1-inches and weighs nearly 29 pounds. A front cut-out lets you see the build platform and remove printed objects. A monochrome LCD panel below the opening lets you navigate selections using a four-arrow pad; a select button (marked with an "M" rather than "OK") sits to the right of the display.

An SD Card slot sits inside the printer underneath and to the right of the opening. You can print a G-code file from the card or directly from a PC or Mac connected via USB.

The Monoprice 11614 has a lot of parts, and unpacking can be unnerving. Dual extruder heads means you can print objects with two colors, or you can load two different color filament spools and select the color you want. Mounting the extruder heads is a simple operation that requires two screws on each head (already wired) to mount them on the shuttle that moves them left-to-right and back-to-front (Monoprice incudes the small hex wrench you'll need).

Other parts include the two spool holders, spools of black and white PLA filament, filament guide tubes (that you need to install), a so-so manual, and a bag of small replacement parts including a sensor cable that measures the head and build platform temperature.

3D printer reviews: Monoprice Dual Extruder Model 11614

The Monoprice Dual Extruder Model 11614 requires some out-of-the-box assembly and adjustment.

Assembling the printer took us about 10 minutes from start to finish. The next step: level the build platform. The manual explains how, but there are fewer adjustment screws than the manual indicated. Still, leveling the platform added only a few minutes; we were ready to print.

The Monoprice 11614 handles a fairly large build volume—8.9- x 5.7- x 5.9-inches, and a heated platform—a must when you print with ABS. The build platform comes covered with Kapton tape to help the first layer stick to the platform. With many 3D printers, you have to apply the Kapton or cover the build platform with blue painter's tape and possibly use a glue stick so that the prints stick. Otherwise you risk a ruined print.

Monoprice suggests that you download and use the open source ReplicatorG 3D print software; however, the printer's manual doesn't provide directions for downloading, installing, or using the application. We've used the software, and it may be overwhelming for beginners. Cura software (a free download from Ultimaker) is a bit easier, and we recommend it for beginners.

Overall, we like the Model 11614 and its large build platform. It makes decent prints and, by varying the extruder and platform temperatures, you can use PLA, ABS, and even newer filament materials. Plus, you can buy filament spools from any vendor.

However, we don't recommend this particular model for an absolute beginner—you have to be willing to experiment to get the best results and not be put off by some required assembly. Monoprice currently offers two other models—including the Maker Architect, which sells for $299. It might be a better choice if you're just starting out in 3D printing.



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