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Magicfirm is the company responsible for designing and producing the MBot line of personal 3D printers. The company is based in China and was the first 3D printer service operation with Chinese borders. The development process of the MBot II was actually a joint venture between Chinese and Swedish engineers who worked on the initial and final design as a team.
Magicfirm believes 3D printing holds a significant key to success for many companies, as the ability to quickly produce prototypes can reduce overhead costs and help new firms realize opportunities more efficiently.
While the firm is only six years old, they have already manufactured and introduced several 3D printers to the marketplace. Additionally, they produce and provide a wide range of 3D printer parts and materials. The company also offers a 3D printer kit called the Cube and another model named the Mini, but the Grid II is without question their flagship model.
Background Story of the Grid II
The Grid II is designed as a desktop personal 3D printer based on an open source system. The goal of developing the Grid II was to offer an affordable 3D printer capable of producing professional quality 3D prints. Their intention was to introduce a 3D printer to the marketplace that could satisfy the quality requirements of engineers and scientists while still being affordable and easy to use for first-time users.
The company has learned well from their partnership experiences with big names such as Microsoft and GM, as they patiently worked through the process of developing the Grid II to ensure it would meet the expectations of the market at a price point that would impress.
According to most measures, they wildly succeeded by offering the Grid II at just over $1,000 and providing a machine to 3D printing consumers that is capable of much more than just printing a few projects as a hobby. The Grid II is nothing short of a professional grade full-featured desktop 3D printer that many users will find provides exceptional versatility.
MBot Grid II Overview
The Grid II is actually a redesign of the Grid, Magicfirm’s first attempt at developing a full featured 3D printer. It offers many refinements and upgrades to the Grid’s design while still keeping the price point within reach for the average 3D hobbyist.
“The unit comes with a full factory warranty on parts and labor for the first twelve months of ownership, a nice advantage compared to some competitor models that only offer a few months of warranty.”
The MBot customer support team is located in the UK and has a reputation for prompt service and a professional attitude. Additionally, the company offers frequent updates and software upgrades via its website along with other types of support available such as a blog and online support ticket system. While receiving support is most of the time relatively quick, ordering the printer is a different story. Due to the popularity of the Grid II model, it can sometimes take a week or two for them to fill your order. This means you should plan for a couple of weeks between when you order the unit and when you actually receive it.
The Grid II Design
The Grid II is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 10 and Mac OSX operating systems and comes with Mprint as the system management software that controls customization options and printing operations. The printer is compatible with .STL files, has an available SD card slot for wireless printing and offers a generous build volume at 235 x 210 x 180mm with a single extruder. The build volume is actually a bit smaller with dual extruders with measurements of 200 x 210 x 180mm.
The printer is a little on the heavy side as it weighs over seventy pounds, which is significantly heavier than other desktop models. While weight typically isn’t a huge issue for most 3D printing enthusiasts, if you plan to frequently move this desktop unit to different locations, it might be a little less than ideal.
It sports a conservative yet professional appearance. In terms of eye appeal, there is certainly nothing flashy or upscale about its appearance, but it looks more like a solid piece of machinery ready to go to work. Magicfirm did a nice job of ensuring the fit and finish is high-quality and there are no rough edges or pieces that look like they do not fit right. The printer looks and feels solid like it has been made to last for the long haul. The unit comes with black metal framing and viewing windows on both the sides and the front for added convenience as well as ease of use.
Printer Features and Operations
- Print Bed: The print head of the unit is built right into the build area itself, fitting into precut holes in the base. This means the print head can actually move underneath and effectively calibrate the build plate. The calibration process is simple, accurate and mainly completed by turning several knobs either left or right until the operations screen alerts you the proper settings are in place and the printer bed calibration is complete.
- Settings: Settings are automatically checked before each printing job begins and there are normally, at least, a few small adjustments necessary before the next job begins to ensure accuracy. The process may not be quite as convenient as some other automatic leveling features offered on other 3D printers, but the accuracy is impressive.
- Accuracy: In fact, the Grid II might be the most accurate 3D printer in its class in this regard. One aspect of the leveling process that is quite convenient is all calibration settings are saved each time they are used for a printing job. This means you can always refer back to the saved settings to reproduce the exact same environment used before to complete a printing project.
- Ergonomics: The simple but effective engineering and design continue with the Grid II on its print bed. The print bed is made commercial grade glass that is shatter-proof with 2 millimeters of lamination over its entire surface. The print bed design means you can do away with sticky solutions and the need for heat when 3D printing.
- Filaments: You can use many of the current filaments available with the same or better accuracy without any need for additional adhesives. PLA, ABS, PET, woods and stone are all compatible with the Grid II.
- Build Area: The 10 x 9 x 8 inch enclosed build area offers plenty of room for working with and printing objects that are significantly larger than many desktop 3D printers are capable of printing.
- Extruder: Additionally, the option of having a single or dual extruder adds functionality to meet your specific needs and requirements. Just as you get the option of a single or dual extruder, you also have the option of adding dual printer fans which keep PLA cool and printing accurate. However, even if you opt for the single fan design the extruder also allows air flow which helps to reduce clogging and in-process filament related printing errors.
- Compatible with PLA/ABS/Wood/Stone/PET and other materials
- Single or dual extruders
- Single or dual printer fans
- Resolutions 100-300 microns
- Build area 10 x 9 x 8 inches
- Suitable for professional or personal use
- Compatible with Windows or Mac OSX
- No additional adhesives necessary
- Intuitive software and user-interface
Final Thoughts on the MBot Grid II
The MBot Grid II is not the most eye-appealing 3D printer on the market but in terms of quality prints and functionality it is certainly among the best in its category. The open source platform, optional dual head design and superior design elements set it apart from other printers in the $1,000-$1,500 price range.
Bottom Line: If you are a professional with a need for commercial quality printing or simply a hobbyist who wants to try your hand at 3D printing then the Grid II is an excellent choice.