Monoprice has been selling inexpensive 3D printers for a while, but recently they took a step into a more powerful machine.
The company made its name by selling reasonable quality common items at rock-bottom prices, driven by huge volume. They’re expecting to do the same in the world of 3D printing. Their first machine was a MakerBot Replicator 2X clone that didn’t even have a proper product name, and followed that up with a small range of very inexpensive machines, some priced at only a couple of hundred US dollars.
But now they’ve introduced the “Maker Ultimate 3D Printer”, priced at a large (for Monoprice) USD$699. What could cause this machine to be priced 3X more than their lower cost model? The highlights:
- Reasonably large build volume of 200 x 200 x 175mm
- Print speed allegedly up to 150mm/second, but I’d like to see this in person, as this stat is a bit higher than it should be
- Heated print surface (up to 100C)
- Nozzle temperature up to 260C, enabling printing of multiple materials
- One year, full replacement warranty
- Set of tools for operating the machine
- Swappable nozzle
- Specially designed feeder to avoid jams
- Service and support available, but I’m not certain how much Monoprice’s experts know about 3D printing
- Ability to 3D print layers at only 0.02mm !
The ability to print many materials is quite attractive, as this is not normally possible on low-cost machines, which are typically set up to print PLA only.
Also of note is the 0.02mm layer size, which is exceedingly small and achievable by only a few desktop 3D printers. One of which is the Ultimaker series. And… Oh.
Check out this view of the Monoprice Ultimate’s control panel.
Does it look a bit familiar? This is the control panel of an Ultimaker.
In fact, these machines actually look very similar, at least structurally.
Is the Monoprice unit an Ultimaker clone? Not exactly, as many of the specifications are different. For example, the build volume on an Ultimaker 2+ is 223 x 223 x 205, somewhat larger than the Monoprice. Also, you’ll note the top cabling and filament path is on the alternate side. Both machines come with swappable nozzles.
But the panel interface appears EXTREMELY similar. I suspect that Monoprice’s suppliers have used Ultimaker’s famously open source designs to produce a similar, but slightly different unit at a far lower price. More than likely the Monoprice’s components are of less quality than you’d find on the Ultimaker 2+, which is priced around five times as much.
And finally, the name: it’s the Monoprice Maker "ULTIMATE" 3D Printer. Yes, “Ultimate”. They obviously forgot the “ker”.
[UPDATE] Reader Bernhard Vogt points out that the Monoprice machine is in fact a rebranded Wanhao Duplicator 6, shown here:
The machine evidently runs the Ultimaker firmware, thus the similarity to Ultimaker's machines. The Duplicator 6 has a very good reputation, so the Monoprice Ultimate is likely to get one, too. Even better, the price of the Monoprice unit is USD$100 less than the Duplicator 6 itself!
But I still think Monoprice is hoping to attract Ultimaker buyers towards their new Ultimate 3D Printer.