CES2017: Monoprice Unveils Expanded Line of 3D Printers

At CES last year, Monoprice introduced a $200 3D printer. Initial expectations of this printer were middling. My curiosity got the best of me, and last summer I picked up one of these printers for a review. The Monoprice MP Select Mini is actually phenomenal, and not just ‘phenomenal for the price’. This machine showed the world how good one of the cheapest printers can be. The future is looking awesome.

You might think Monoprice wouldn’t be able to top the success of this great little machine. You would be wrong. This week, Monoprice announced a bevy of new and upgraded printers. Some are resin. Some are huge. One will sell for $150 USD.

The Little SLA

Last year, Monoprice announced a small, exceptionally cheap resin-based printer. It was never released, and for a good reason: it didn’t work very well. Monoprice went back to the drawing board and came up with a brand new design using a tiny 2k monitor and UV LEDs. The sample print quality was incredible, and this machine will work with Open resins, although Monoprice will be releasing their own line of inexpensive resins. The tiny SLA will be coming out in April, and it will be relatively inexpensive.

The Big SLA

The Monoprice ‘MP Maker Prism Professional SLA Resin 3D Printer’ — that’s its full name — is Monoprice’s answer to the Form 1 and other pro-level resin printers. Instead of DLP or LCDs, the big resin printer is using lasers and galvos. It’s big, has a huge build volume, and will be available next month for about $3500.

The Pro Filament Printer

If you jump over to Monoprice right now, you’ll notice they really have the ‘good, better, best’ market segmentation down with three printers that cost $200, $400, and $600. The huge SLA printer shows they’re ready to jump into the pro market, and for filament printers they’re offering the MP 3Series Commercial 3D Printer (or 3Mill, according to the engineers). It’s a printer that can print a 400mm cube, and it costs $800.

The Inexpensive Ones

The standout printer from last year was the MP Select Mini, and over the last few months it’s gotten a few upgrades. The next version of this $200 printer will feature support for an E3D hotend out of the box, an improved extruder motor and drive system, a much more enclosed filament path, better part cooling, and a lot of other improvements from the community. They also painted it black. The MP Select Mini V2 will be released in April.

But an improved $200 printer isn’t why you’re here, is it? You’re here for the $150 delta printer. Yes, it’s there, it works, the sample prints look great, and I wasn’t able to cause a big enough diversion to disassemble it in the Monoprice suite.

The little delta uses NEMA 17 motors that seem to be strong enough. The electronics are a slightly improved version of the board that shipped with the original MP Select Mini (32-bit ARM with WiFi), and the printer has auto bed leveling over at least a dozen points. How good can a $150 printer be? We’re going to find out in April.

What Monoprice Is Doing Here

For the last year or so, the 3D printing community has recognized Monoprice’s ability to ship a lot of really great, really expensive 3D printers. However, the complainers whine, anyone can do that if you’re just rebadging Chinese printers and sending containers of them across the Pacific. This doesn’t properly reflect what Monoprice is actually doing here.

I had a chance to talk with the guy in charge of the 3D printer offerings at Monoprice. While these machines are rebadged printers, they’re doing a lot more than buying printers from a company in China you’ve never heard of. Yes, the base model $200 printer looks like a Malyan M200, but the control board purportedly has a few tweaks of their own.

This, I think, is Monoprice’s entire business model: they take something that is already being manufactured, get the manufacturer to add a few special tweaks, and ship a container to the Port of LA. Using the Monoprice cable example, they would find a manufacturer of cables, ask them to add better strain relief or a braided wrap, and buy a bunch of them. Monoprice thus becomes the best place to pick up any sort of computer cable.

Is that manufacturing? I would argue it is, even though it’s extremely easy to write everything off as a rebadge. There’s some people who actually know a thing or two about 3D printing at Monoprice, and they’re using the tools and systems they have available to put some great printers out on the market.

35 thoughts on “CES2017: Monoprice Unveils Expanded Line of 3D Printers

  1. > Is that manufacturing? I would argue it is, even though it’s extremely easy to write everything off as a rebadge.

    You’re either creating something, or you’re a distributor. Monoprice is not strictly a distributor, and just because they don’t start with raw materials doesn’t mean they aren’t manufacturing!
    The future is exciting.

  2. Well someone has to act is the middle man between China and US and put their name on the line saying “Hey this thing is actually good quality” as people who want a 3D printer aren’t always going to be the person who wants to risk that a product is no good. They just want something that works and monoprice can be such that seller.

  3. “It’s big, has a huge build volume…”

    *Looks up actual build volume but it doesn’t seem to be listed anywhere.*

    Err, what is the actual build volume?

    Additionally, their press release touts a “0.03-micron layer resolution”, which would be amazing. That would be better than literally anything else on the market except atom based 3d printing in a lab.

    Except it is not actually 0.03 microns. They actually mean 30 microns, or 0.03 mm. Still, quite respectable but hardly an actual leap forward. What is the X and Y resolution?

  4. For the last year or so, the 3D printing community has recognized Monoprice’s ability to ship a lot of really great, really expensive 3D printers.

    (emphasis added)

    So if $300 is really expensive, I suppose the $1500 ones of yesteryear are astronomically expensive? Or are we hankering for a $30 3D printer?

  5. I bought a Mini back in October, and it’s been a flawless little machine outside of it’s obvious limitations with regards to build volume. It worked great out of the box and has continued to do so. The initial printers (purely rebadged M200’s) had some flaws – poor power supplies, for example – but Monoprice has [themselves, or through the manufacturer themselves] had those earlier flaws corrected in later versions.

    The V2 will undoubtedly be an exceptional printer, and (as the article says) not just “for it’s price”.

    The current Mini is an excellent first printer, and I can’t wait to see what this little delta is like. The smaller SLA printer may well coax me back into miniature wargames, too =)

  6. Supposedly Monoprice will be offering upgrade kits to fit out an original Mini to V2 specs. If you want it black you’ll have to paint it yourself.

    I’ve already installed a metal extruder on mine. So far I’ve only had one clog in the stock hot end. I also have a piece of glass with a sheet of heavy gauge kapton clipped on the bed. So the main upgrade part I’ll want is the thicker bed.

  7. I think Monoprice is kinda changing the 3D printing game all by themselves.

    I spent years toying with the idea of a Mendel90 build until Benchoff’s Mini review stoked my interest again. After looking in to it a bit I discovered they were about to bring their own flavor of an i3 with a touchscreen to market.

    Couple months later and I find myself unable to go to MicroCenter without standing in the filament aisle giddy with the wall of colored plastic in front of me. Have to literally talk myself out of ‘just one more spool’ everytime I go.

  8. Man, as exciting as the prospect of a cheap SLA printer is, I’m starting to realize I haven’t even scratched the surface of what my cheap FDM printer can do… Last week I printed these: http://media.makecoolthings.com/wp/2017/01/20170102_125220.jpg

    Some 28mm scale miniatures (Quarter and Battletech miniature for scale comparison.) no support, stock 0.4mm nozzle… Didn’t even level the bed or anything, and my printer’s due for a tune-up! This week, I designed and built a functional replacement for a joystick potentiometer, based around a hall effect sensor and some neodymium magnets… 3D printing is awesome! :D

    1. Looks awesome for a FDM printer, but still has much more noticeable grow lines than even a B9 Creator V1.1. They’d require considerably most hand post processing before pulling a mold and making production parts, for example.
      I guess we’ll see how Monoprice’s resin prints look in a few months, but I bet they’ll be better than a consumer FDM for jewelry etc.

      1. Yeah, SLA is definitely the way to go for small detailed things like jewelry– my younger sister is a jewelry maker who wants to get into casting and she’d be *very happy* if I were to get my hands on an SLA printer –but I think there’s still more potential in FDM printers than people give them credit for. :D

        Even I was surprised those prints turned out as well as they did, I sort of did them on a lark when I was reading this tabletop gaming magazine and there was a link to a free sample of printable RPG miniatures. (There doesn’t seem to be a lot of high-quality miniature models out there designed to print well.)

        Hopefully I can take my printer even further… I’ve had it for almost two years now and I still haven’t added active cooling, or done fine calibrations, or a lot of other fine-tuning or improvements I really ought to. (Including replacing the spring-based belt tensioners, and shoring up the printbed with metal reinforcements to improve rigidity…) Not to mention the fact that I’ve still got 0.3 and 0.2mm nozzles I haven’t tried yet. :)

        1. Haha oh man… Yeah, I’d heard of that before but never actually watched any of the videos! It amuses me how much the tractorfeed paper system reminds me of my old wide-carriage Apple ImageWriter… :P

          Seems to me it’d have to have a very narrow range of practical applications compared to FDM though. Even with the stuff mentioned about resin-impregnating a print to make it hard, or making it flexible with a different compound, it’s still probably best left to making chiefly visual representations of things… Which, of course, is where such a technology would blow FDM and SLA out of the water, being able to produce full-color models, probably much faster.

  9. Monoprice is MISSING a big part of this product space – milling, not 3D melt-additive. Take an existing and inexpensive 2D vinyl-paper cutter and add a limited Z-axis rotating mill head and voila! You have something that can mill printed circuit boards (and much more).

      1. I used to think this too, however if you’re patient dirtypcb.com will give you 10 copies of a 2-layer board for $14 or a 4-layer for $25. You can pay to expedite them so they take about a week. Otherwise plan on it taking about a month.

        …A very satisfied customer!

  10. I was really hoping that the $150 printer would be SLA, but that’s just me being sour from the failure of the Peachy Printer. That being said, I am super happy that someone is still trying to make SLA printers inexpensive. There’s only one I can find that’s less than $1000.

  11. > This, I think, is Monoprice’s entire business model:
    > they take something that is already being manufactured, get the manufacturer to add a few special tweaks, and ship a container to the Port of LA.
    Are they trying to find products that match their requirements, but are unable to, and therefor they instead resort on trying to find an almost matching product and improve it?

    Denis.

    1. That’s generally how it is today.

      Why bother completely re-inventing something, when you can find something 95% perfect and have it improved the last 5% for minimal effort & costs.

      After all, Monoprice is in the business to make money, but often the best way to make money is being lazy the smart way.

  12. Pricing at this level will generate interest from people even from a strictly utilitarian standpoint. There needs to be a decent smartphone-based 3D scanning app that allows for the measurements of the scanned item to be easily added to the model data for the purposes of printing replacement parts. They’d make a killing.

  13. Does anyone have any specifics for the MP Maker Prism Professional SLA Resin 3D Printer? Seeing that it’s laser I imagine they are going after the Form market, so would be really interesting to see what they have. Software would be crucial to making it a competitor though.

  14. Anyone have any more info on the MP Maker Prism Professional SLA Resin 3D Printer? It sounds like they’re shooting for a Form like printer, especially with the $3,500 retail price. I wonder if they have software to go along with it? To compete I would hope so.

    I have one of their old dual extruder printers which is awesome. got some really amazing prints from it. would love to see what they do with a more resin based unit though!

  15. Is there any indication of how much this Little SLA printer will be. I was thinking of buying a Mini, but now that I see that there is a SLA coming out I am wondering if it would be worth it to wait. All depending on how much it will cost and if there is a possibility that it prints castable resin/wax. any ideas?

  16. EVen iif they were simply rebadging chinese printers, Monoprice is making a name for themselves in reliable equipment, and in standing behind the products when there are issues. That’s worth a lot. Tha they approve them is icing on the cake.

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