Review of the M100 Printer

So…Mr. Max McGrumpy of 3D Printer Cult Extreme recently did a full review of our M100 Printer. Folks, this is how you review a printer!! See below for the full review:

Malyan M100 Desktop 3D Printer Review 

There is a “Growing Trend” in 3D printing right now – the size of machines is increasing rapidly.   More build volume, more heads, bigger nozzles, faster throughput.    This is great, it shows that customers and engineers are increasing their confidence with the technology and larger more sophisticated parts are being created.

But at the other end of the spectrum is the need for small super-accurate machines.   What if… I need a single gear for a prototype?   Or an O-ring?   There is a need for small accurate machines for these tasks.     And indeed there are situations where someone is limited on space or budget.        

There are two contenders for ultra-small format printers, both currently offered by Malyan.     This review concerns their small M100 offering, which is built using the same technology as their breakout-hit M200 machine.

My first impression upon unboxing was favorable.   The machine is made entirely of metal.   This, honestly, is what serious machines should be made out of.    The machine-tool industry is notorious for cutting corners,  if there was any advantage to making machines from plywood or acrylic  HAAS or Okuma would have done so years ago.    

The build volume is small,  about two regular-size credit-cards.     That is actually quite a bit of volume when it comes down to it,  I was able to print two 1-2-3 blocks side by side with room for a skirt.  

Out of the box the build platform comes with a build-tack like surface, which performs fairly well.   I covered mine with blue painters tape for tests.      

Upon powering up I discovered a cold solder joint in the heater/thermistor shared-connection above the carriage.   I was able to reflow the solider using a heat-pen without issue, this is something that will need to be addressed with Malyan going forward.

The build platform extends to either side of the machine as it cycles, this precludes using acrylic to enclose the machine,  however it is small enough to drop into a blue tote from Walmart or a Home-Depot bucket.   This allows you to print ABS and other sensitive materials.

Initial setup was fairly easy,  I had to offset the extruder using S3D because initially it was too close to the bed.    Once I fixed that (using a software offset) I printed a simple outline.     There are four screws for leveling, and I used those plus the standard “paper” trick” to even the bed out.    Second outline print was perfect.

At this point I made my first print,  an Ez Gyro from Thingiverse.   This is one of those nifty moving-part prints.     I decided to forgo the standard test-cube and give it a workout,  figuring the other offering from Malyan was up to it,  this machine should be as well.  

It did not disappoint.  Despite the limitations of the shared hot-end-fan and layer-cooler setup,  I managed to get a usable part on my very first print.    The retraction needed tuning but that was software side not a machine issue.      Overall it printed very quick (75mm/s) at .3 layer height using the stock nozzle.

My next print was even more impressive,  I printed a Sharkz from Thingiverse.   The machine bridged just fine despite the janky layer-cooler.   The Sharkz I printed worked upon removal from the bed.   A further bit of refinement and my third print (also a Sharkz) came out flawless.

Print #4 is what sold me.  I printed a Benchy out of Fox Smart Neon Snot Green PLA.     Now I am not one prone to overstating my case but this machine blew me out of the water.  The Benchy came out perfect.  Absolutely perfect.    Of all the Benchy test prints I’ve done this bar none came out the best.   The bottom is legible,  the text on the back is almost readable,  the overhangs printed perfect,  and it bridged flawlessly.    Holes are round and the dimensions were spot on.

However when it comes down to it, the Benchy is just a toy.    How does it do with gears and other challenges?

I manufacture a line of Herb And Tea grinders,  I have my own protected tooth-wheel design.   When printed on a dialed in printer the teeth are very sharp… however getting a machine dialed in to that point is tricky.   And it requires a slow print speed.

Well I printed two side by side on the M100,  and promptly decided that this machine had a place in my workshop after all.   The tooth-wheels required but a tiny bit of software-side  adjustment,  after that I had flawless usable tooth-wheels.     The gears I print, also flawless.

Moving on from there I fed the machine a variety of materials ranging from T-glase to TPU.    The machine prints them all.  TPU is a challenge on this hotend but if you print hot and slow it will work.

So that’s the good.   Now the bad:

Initially I was thwarted by an electrical fault.    This was not obvious as there is no control screen to give diagnostic information like on the M200 machine.   I was able to trace the fault to a bad solider joint on the circuit board above the head.    This is a rather poor design to begin with as the thermistor and heater circuit share a common header.   Lots of potential for issues there.   Hopefully it is changed in later revisions.    It will work, and work reliably enough but it needs to be changed for quality improvement sake.

Once I resolved that I determined the board firmware is kind of flakey.   The machine tends to go into thermal runaway or refuse to heat up at all depending on the state of the board.   For whatever reasons the heat control registers are not resetting or not reacting properly.   For now the workaround is to reset the machine between prints and DO NOT LEAVE IT UNATTENDED while it is heating up.    My contact at Malyan tells me they are working on a patch for the firmware.     The best way to keep the machine stable is to reset the board between prints or write a script that leaves the heats on after a print.    As with any machine the M100 should not be left unattended.   Thankfully the small size means you can keep it by your side next to your computer or at your desk,  so monitoring is not an issue.

My only other gripe with the machine is the utter lack of a control screen.  The comparable M200 has a screen which makes running from an SD card far easier than on the M100.  And you can heat the machine and home the axis on that screen,  whereas the M100 you need a PC for all of those functions.

OTHER THOUGHTS:   

It looks to take standard thermistors and heater cores,  however you’d need to cut the header connector and solder in a jumper or come up with some other work-around.  Not an issue for the hackers in the community,  but a potential bottle-neck for the less technical.     

Nozzles are a shortened E3D style,  in order to use an E3D replacement the entire  hot-end will have to be shifted upwards to accommodate the length.

There is no hardware Z-axis adjustment,   like the M200 you’d need a shim or other technical wizardry to offset the nozzle if you decided to use a glass sheet or thicker build surface.   Not impossible for us technical folks.

FINAL WORD: 

Overall I’m giving it 4 out of 5 arbitrary quantification points.    It is fast, it is accurate,  it can be enclosed by dropping it in a container and it can handle most materials with ease.   Downsides,  it has a few technical issues but Malyan will work through those as production continues.

I would buy a second machine for my workshop and also recommend this machine to those in the small-format market, especially recommend it to my more technical counterparts as the machine needs a tiny bit of TLC to get the best results.