This was sent to use from a recent client (OhmEye in the IRC chatroom) . This is the full untouched, unredacted review. This put a smile on our face.
I have thousands of print hours using my MendelMax 1.5 and 2.0 printers and the 3.0 design carries forward this design family that make it seem more of an industrial commercial 3D printer than a hobbyist kit.
The various rail systems that were used in previous MendelMax versions have been upgraded to vslot wheels that glide easily with zero play for extremely accurate axis rigidity, the number one mechanical factor for high print quality in my opinion. The key features of the MendelMax 2 have progressed to this design, produced in rigid steel plate instead of bulkier aluminum, all nicely lasercut and powder coated with attention to fit and finish. User feedback and experience with version 2 has been folded into version 3 and it becomes obvious when assembling the kit.
Assembling a kit like this does involve effort and attention, but there’s no feeling of “fighting the kit” when building it, the parts just go together when assembled in the recommended order. There may be a lot of steps, but none of them are particularly difficult, and the end result is a pretty remarkable printer that I have no doubt will prove to be simpler to maintain than it’s predecessors. I have thousands of print hours on my MendelMax 2 and am used to retuning it every few hundred hours and replacing rail components every couple of thousand hours. It won’t surprise me if this new version improves that maintenance tenfold.
The new extruder and X carriage is a significant improvement from previous versions. It is rock-solid rigid and capable of mounting dual extruders, plus has a dead-simple hotend mount for the E3D V6 that makes leveling dual nozzles painless. The new extruder moves away from using a geared stepper, which means it’s not suitable for driving 3mm filaments, but it works like a dream with 1.75mm filament and drops the weight down which makes dual direct drive extruders feasible. I have been using 3mm for the past few years and this printer is worth making the switch to 1.75mm for me.
The design is obviously thought out to prioritize functionality, but it doesn’t look ugly doing it. 🙂 It’s a bit wider than the version 2 because the motors have been moved entirely inboard, which I like because it really makes the base a nice contained unit. The print bed is a new version of the familiar 3-point glass mount, done in steel, and the top deck below the bed is no longer open for things to drop down under the bed into the base by accident. (I’m guilty of that more than I’d like to admit with my version 2!)
A nice feature is the addition of LED status strips, one on the front of the base and one on the top of the frame, that backlight the logos. These LEDs change color to indicate printer status with animation patterns and colors that can be customized. By default they change slowly from blue to red as the printer heats up in a display of actual hotend temperature, and show the hotend status while printing.
I have built several different Reprap 3D printers and even tried my hand at my own designs. The MendelMax 2 was the first design I built that didn’t feel like something cobbled together from parts designed for another purpose, and the MendelMax 3 brings a remarkable polish to the experience and end result. It really feels well thought out the whole way through building it, and it was the fastest process I’ve experienced yet to go from a boxed kit to great prints.
Customer support is great too. The MTW guys seem to never sleep and are available on Freenode IRC #makerstoolworks also, and they really care about customer experience and success. We have a great community on IRC, and I try to hang out there myself along with some other customers who help out as best we can. Disclaimer: I’m not an MTW employee, but I do contribute to their open source printer designs and products. I contributed code for the LEDs in the MendelMax 3 and participated in the beta program.
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