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Review: New Matter’s MOD-t 3D printer is ingeniously simple

Lucas Mearian | June 13, 2016
The MOD-t is slow but produces decent-quality models for a beginner-friendly price.

mod t primary photo 2
Credit: Lucas Mearian

In a consumer market filled with entry-level 3D printers, startup New Matter was able to garner nearly twice its crowdfunding goals last year (and raise $6.5 million in a series A funding round) to begin production of its minimalist 3D desktop printer -- the MOD-t.

So when offered the opportunity to review the MOD-t, which retails for $399 (Amazon price - What's this?), I jumped at the chance. And while I wasn't blown away by its value or quality, I was impressed with what I found to be a true plug-and-play 3D printer that doesn't take much desk space, offers Wi-Fi connectivity, and is easily ignored as it goes about quietly printing simple objects.

The MOD-t can make an object as large as 6 x 4 x 5 in. It has a compact Apple-inspired design and weighs 12.5 lb. It can print as fine as a .05mm layer height, which is pretty standard.

Simplicity and ingenious design

When it comes to hardware design, the MOD-t stands head and toes above other sub-$500 printers. New Matter teamed up with international design firm Frog Design to develop the all-white, contemporary look of the MOD-t, which exudes simplicity.

Even the setup -- which takes about five minutes -- is simple enough that a first-time 3D printer user would have no problem doing it. After removing the printer from its box and downloading the firmware via New Matter's setup page, users can follow along with a series of GIFs on that same page that walk them through installing the reel of filament and the printer's build platform.

It is the build platform that I found to be the most impressive part of the printer. The platform isn't attached to anything. You simply lay it atop a couple of x- and y-axis gear rods, and you're done. The bottom of the build platform has tracks that ride on the gear rods during a build.

The platform also has a flexible plastic cover that slides off and allows you to bend it to remove printed objects; there's literally no need to scrape objects off of the build platform with a spatula as is so often required with other printers.

After you install the build platform, you hang a plastic filament reel holder on the back of the printer, feed the filament through a hole in the rear of the machine until it comes out of the machine's filament guide tube and hit "Load Filament" on the software. That's it. You're done.

The MOD-t prints with standard 1.75mm PLA filament, one of the most common polymers on the market for fused filament fabrication machines. While it may support other polymers, New Matter does not list any of them.

 

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