What can you expect from a £200 3D printer?

15 January 2016

Super-low prices can make customers nervous, so we picked up a £200 3D printer from Kickstarter to see what entry level printers are capable of

Super-low prices can make customers nervous. After all, given what it must take to put a filament printer into mass production, a machine that costs a couple of hundred quid can’t be any good – right? And if it is any good, then how on earth is the vendor making any money from it?

At DEVELOP3D, we’ve asked the same questions ourselves – and, just over a year ago, in search of answers, we threw £200 at Kickstarter backing at the NewMatter MOD-t. (Editor’s note: strong drink may have been involved in Al’s decision here.)

Our reasoning was this: it was a cheap device, certainly, but its associations with global product strategy and design company Frog Design seemed like a strong endorsement.

As with most Kickstarter campaigns, there have been delays. The shipping date slipped by nearly six months, but one morning this Autumn, the UPS chap arrived with a small box to deliver. So what did we end up with?

The answer is a small form factor machine that comes with a reel of PLA [polylactic acid] filament and assortment of tools for removing parts and cleaning the build platform.

Aesthetically, it’s a nifty-looking little beast, with clean cut lines, a pretty well-integrated design and a tidy perspex lid. Set up is easy, it’s WiFi enabled and everything runs through a web browser.

You upload your file, tweak the settings, send to the printer and push the button on the front.

The New Matter uses a strange concoction of a pinion for both the X and Y axes. Its platform has the associated rack features. You drop the platform onto the front lefthand corner and it calibrates itself.

The result is not a loud machine, as such, but one that has similar audio characteristics as kids racing Matchbox cars across a wooden floor.

The end results, however, are what really count. We’ve had this machine for a little over a week at the time of writing.

The finish is as you might expect from low-resolution FDM prints, but on the whole, we’ve been impressed by New Matter.

So to answer the question of what you can really expect from a £200 3D printer, the answer is this: if you’re realistic about the results and set your expectations low, you may, like us, be pleasantly surprised. It’s a tidy little machine with a small build envelope – but it works.

The parts it builds are a little on the rough side – but it costs just over £200. And there’s more to come from New Matter, with firmware and set-up and set-up software updates on the horizon that should improve the user experience.

It just goes to show that, sometimes, it’s worth taking a punt.
newmatter.com


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