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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.

If you want to tweak your designs, popular software such as Tinkercad, AutoCAD or Adobe Photoshop CC allows 3D printer users to perform simple manipulations of objects before printing.

You can also fine-tune your designs in the cloud using New Matter's CAD software, though just how much you change an object is severely limited based on preset commands. If you're printing objects based on files from the New Matter Store, you will unfortunately not be able to manipulate them or their placement on the print platform. However, you can choose good, better or best (recently updated to "high speed," "balanced" and "high quality") print resolutions, which represent layer thicknesses ranging from .4mm to .05mm in height. You can also turn print supports on and off (supports are scaffolding added to the design to temporarily hold up portions of an object while it's being printed).

New Matter recently rolled out new advanced settings so that users could perform slightly finer customization of print jobs through the New Matter Store. Once an object is uploaded, a "custom settings" menu allows you to choose adjustments such as incremental layer height, temperature (from 160 to 220 degrees Celsius) and print speed (from 10mm to 80mm per second).

Slow and sometimes difficult software

While the MOD-t can print at up to 80mm per second, which is a typical speed, I still found the printer to be remarkably slow. For example, on the "balanced" setting, it took five hours to print a simple 3.25 x 1.75 x 1.5 in. hippopotamus figurine; it took 1.5 hours to print an octopus that was 3 in. in diameter and .75 in. high., which has taken as little as a half hour on other printers.

It was in New Matter's online software, however, that I discovered the greatest flaws. Its lack of ability to manipulate print jobs -- from not being able to adjust their placement on the print bed to the inability to inspect the layers prior to a print -- left me wholly unimpressed and at times downright frustrated.

Additionally, I found the software was often slow to get print jobs started. At times, it even took several minutes for the software to recognize that my computer was connected to the MOD-t via the USB cord. Using my MacBook Pro laptop, I often got Apple's spinning wheel icon indicating that New Matter's online software was not responding.

hippo print 
This hippo figurine was uploaded to the MOD-t from New Matter’s online store. It took five hours to print with the machine set to its “balanced,” or average, print quality setting. Credit: Lucas Mearian

 

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