Monoprice Maker Select Plus Review
When it comes to budget 3D printers, Monoprice is one of the most popular brands. The company is best known for the Maker Select v2 and the Select Mini v2, a couple of cheap 3D printers that you can get for less than $500.
At just around $400, the Maker Select Plus also falls in that price range. It’s a 3D printer with a more polished profile compared to other budget products. The Maker Select Plus is a rebrand of the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus, featuring the same design and core specifications. There are also other products on the market that share a similar design, with the Anycubic i3 Mega being one of the most notable.
Although its model name might suggest otherwise, the Maker Select Plus is not out to replace the Maker Select v2 as Monoprice’s flagship Prusa-based 3D printer. It’s simply another option for beginners and enthusiasts who want a cheap and reliable 3D printer that offers great long-term value.
In design, the Maker Select Plus is similar to the Maker Select v2, featuring a non-enclosed metal frame with a black finish and a Cartesian XZ mechanical arrangement. What easily separates it from the latter is its integrated control box – the Maker Select v2 has a separate control box similar to the Creality CR-10S.
Located under the print bed, the Maker Select Plus’s built-in control box contains the main electronics, including the motherboard and the power supply unit (PSU). Out front, it boasts a 3.25-inch touchscreen interface, which is a huge step up from the Maker Select v2’s knob-operated interface. It has a USB port and an SD card slot on the right side, with the power switch located at the rear.
The integrated control box gives the Maker Select Plus a significantly smaller footprint than the Maker Select v2, and that’s despite featuring the exact same build volume (7.9 x 7.9 x 7.1 inches). More importantly, the lack of an external control unit means the Maker Select Plus is a lot easier to move around. But on the flip side, the built-in control unit will make it a bit of a hassle to operate the 3D printer when it’s covered with a full enclosure, which is required for certain high-temperature materials.
The Maker Select Plus has a single MK10 extruder, with a standard 0.4-millimeter brass nozzle. It has a direct drive filament feeding system, which isn’t surprising considering it’s based on the Original Prusa i3 MK2. It has a top-mounted spool holder, a common setup for a 3D printer with a direct drive system. Unlike some cheap 3D printers [glares at the Tevo Tarantula], the Maker Select Plus has dual Z stepper motors, each connected to a leadscrew to drive the motion on the Z axis.
On the X and Y, the motion system is belt-driven, with the control box keeping the Y stepper motor and belt secured. While the location of the Y stepper motor and belt makes for a cleaner and more streamlined profile, there’s a risk the belt will make contact with unsecured wires inside the control box. We recommend that you open up the control box to make sure everything is well secured, especially considering Monoprice is not exactly known for its quality control.
Overall, the Maker Select Plus’s design is good but not unprecedented. It’s got a durable metal frame and has good cable management, the latter of which is notable considering many cheap 3D printers come with messy cables [glares more intensely at the Tevo Tarantula]. Obviously, the highlight here is the touchscreen-equipped integrated control box, which gives the Maker Select Plus a more modern, not to mention more attractive, design.
As expected from a budget 3D printer that sells for around $400, the Maker Select Plus doesn’t have a long list of convenient features, so don’t expect the same user experience the Original Prusa i3 MK3 brings to the table. But compared to other cheap 3D printers, the Maker Select Plus is generous in regard to features. It has a power switch, for example; some companies don’t even bother outfitting their cheap 3D printers with one.
Without a doubt, the Maker Select Plus’s most notable feature is its touchscreen interface, which is something you don’t usually see on a budget 3D printer. Most products in the same price range come with a knob-operated interface, coupled with a basic graphical interface. The touchscreen interface is responsive and offers a wide range of options, including the option to start prints via SD card. With the touch-based interface, the Maker Select Plus is easier to operate than the Maker Select v2.
Like the Maker Select v2 and the Select Mini v2, the Maker Select Plus has an aluminum heated print bed, which opens the door to a long list of filaments you can print with. With the heated print bed, you can print with ABS and other materials that need a heated print bed, although some materials require an extruder and hotend upgrade first. On a related note, the Maker Select Plus has an open material system, which means it can use filaments from third-party brands, but keep in mind the extruder is rated for 1.75-millimeter filaments.
Sadly, the Maker Select Plus doesn’t feature a fully automatic bed leveling system, which means the initial print bed calibration will require manual labor. It has a series of thumbscrews, which you need to turn to get the bed aligned, located under the print bed corners. The manual bed leveling is manageable, although the stock thumbscrews’ lackluster grip makes the process annoying.
When it comes to connectivity, the Maker Select Plus offers the usual USB and SD card options. It can’t connect via Wi-Fi out of the box, but you can set up OctoPrint if the ability to control and monitor your 3D printer remotely is really important to you. It’s worth noting that the Maker Select Plus uses a full-sized SD card, not a microSD card, which is the standard for most 3D printers.
The Maker Select Plus’s build volume is on the generous side. It’s actually similar to the build volume of other cheap Prusa-based 3D printers, such as the Anet A8 and the Jgaurora A3. For comparison, the max print size of the Original Prusa i3 MK2S is 9.8 x 8.3 x 8 inches. With the Maker Select Plus’s good build volume, you can print more than just small, non-functional 3D models.
In all, the Maker Select Plus’s list of features is pretty standard, with its touchscreen interface being the only one that stands out in a big way. It’s unfair to ask for more than what it brings to the table, considering the price point. The good news is that you can easily outfit it with more convenient features, such as an auto-leveling sensor and a camera for remote print monitoring.
The Maker Select Plus arrives in an organized box, with the right amount of protection to keep the contents locked in place during shipping. Everything you need to get started right away is in the box, including a sample PLA filament, test models loaded on the SD card, and a USB cable, among others. While the included manual is good enough to guide you from the initial setup to the first print, it’s not as comprehensive as the LulzBot Mini 2’s or the Original Prusa i3 MK3’s.
Setting up the Maker Select Plus is pretty simple. It should take you about 30 minutes to one hour, depending on your experience with 3D printers and machinery in general. The Maker Select Plus is a semi-assembled 3D printer out of the box, which means there’s no need to put it together from scratch like with a DIY 3D printer. The core components are already secured in place, including the X carriage and the print bed.
The assembly at the onset merely involves bolting the Z frame to the Y frame, installing the spool holder, and connecting the cables. It’s a three-step process so easy that enthusiastic tinkerers will be left hanging and wanting to do more. The connectors are all labeled accordingly, so there’s no chance you’ll mess up the cabling unless you’re not paying attention to the markers.
While the initial assembly is a walk in the park, the pre-print setup can be a bit difficult, especially for beginners. As mentioned in the previous section, the Maker Select Plus has a manual bed leveling system, which requires you to be more involved. In addition, the filament loading process is not as straightforward as you might expect, no thanks to how the print head is built. It’s hard to get a read on whether or not you need to push the filament even further into the filament path.
Once you’re done with the entire initial setup, including the slicer installation, you can start printing right away. But don’t expect to be able to print more than the test models loaded on the SD card, considering the sample filament is not that much. We recommend that you also buy a couple of rolls of filaments when you purchase the Maker Select Plus.
The Maker Select Plus’s semi-assembled form and fairly straightforward initial setup are the chief reasons it’s a suitable starter 3D printer for beginners. There’s no need to solder anything or buy a specific tool at a hardware store to get it up and running. However, make sure to double-check every inch of the 3D printer before you start printing for real as Monoprice has poor quality control. If something’s broken, bent, or burned, request for a replacement product as soon as possible.
In its stock setup, the Maker Select Plus is a very capable 3D printer with good material compatibility. That can’t be said for many 3D printers under $500. It has good overall print quality and can reach decent print speeds, both of which already make it worth the money.
Unlike the Maker Select v2, the Maker Select Plus is safe out of the box. It doesn’t need a MOSFET mod to handle sustained heating at an extended period. A lot of cheap 3D printers, especially DIY kits, come equipped with poorly engineered electronics, with the motherboard incapable of handling the heated print bed’s immense power draw. That’s not the case with the Maker Select Plus.
While certainly not on the same level as high-end professional 3D printers, the Maker Select Plus can produce fairly impressive prints. With the right print setup, it can print both small and large 3D models with a low failure rate. It aces the sample models on the included SD card, which isn’t really surprising considering Monoprice hand-picked those designs to showcase the product’s capabilities. But even when subjected to popular torture test models like the 3DBenchy, the Maker Select Plus produces good results.
The Maker Select Plus can print with different materials even without upgrades. It can print with ABS, PLA, PETG, and a few composite filaments like wood-filled filaments. For more advanced filaments, especially those with high abrasion, you need to replace some of the parts. We recommend that you switch to an all-metal hotend as soon as you can afford it. It’s the key to unlocking the Maker Select Plus’s full material compatibility.
It’s also good to have a glass print bed on standby as certain materials work best on it. Getting a glass print bed is a good investment overall. It offers a flatter surface, side-steps warping issues, and is easier to clean than an aluminum print bed. Since you’re probably going to print with just ABS and PLA in the beginning, a glass print bed is not something you need to look into as soon as possible.
Monoprice advertises that the Maker Select Plus is significantly faster than the Maker Select v2 – 50 percent faster, to be exact. It’s rated for a max print speed of 150 millimeters per second, which sounds impressive for a budget 3D printer until you realize that speed is not realistic. The Maker Select Plus produces the best results when the print speed is set to around 60-80 millimeters per second, with 70 millimeters per second often considered the sweet spot. Pushing it to print faster than what the frame and the direct drive system can handle will only lead to botched-up prints and wasted filaments.
Like other open-structured 3D printers, the Maker Select Plus is easy to upgrade with both store-bought components and printed parts. When it comes to printed parts, you have lots of options, but definitely go for a Z brace, a fan shroud, and an X belt tensioner before anything else. Many of the printed parts designed for the Maker Select v2 are also compatible with the Maker Select Plus.
When it comes to store-bought upgrades – aside from extruder and hotend upgrades – we recommend a better cooling fan and a new set of bearings. Both upgrades are for addressing the Maker Select Plus’s relatively high noise level. Although not alarming, the sounds it makes while printing can be annoying, especially when you’re trying to work on something on a table next to it.
The Maker Select Plus is compatible with different slicers. Monoprice recommends Cura, but you can check out other popular commercial and open-source slicers. As with most other 3D printers, you can never go wrong with Simplify3D, considered by many as one of the best slicers currently available. Unfortunately, Simplify3D is not a free software – it requires another $150, a price not many people are willing to pay right off the bat.
Considering the price point, the Maker Select Plus’s overall performance exceeds expectations. It heats up fast, prints with different materials out of the box, and has a decent print speed. It’s easy to upgrade and is reliable enough to be a primary 3D printer intended for heavy regular use.
|Resolution: 100 microns|
|Volume: 7.9 x 7.9 x 7.1 in|
|Filament: 1.75 mm|
|Types: ABS, PLA, PETG, Wood, PVA, and others|
|Weight: 22 lb|
|Connect: USB, SD card|
|Safe out of the box|
|Good print quality|
|Integrated control box with touchscreen|
|Open material system|
|Easy to upgrade and modify|
|Good aftermarket support|
|High noise level|
|Advertised max print speed is not realistic|
|Poor quality control|
In all, the Maker Select Plus is definitely worth the money. It’s got good print quality, comes with safe electronics, and has a touchscreen interface. It’s a bit more polished than the Maker Select v2 and has a significantly larger build volume than the Select Mini v2. It has flaws, of course, but many of them can be remedied with the right upgrades and modifications.
For beginners who want a starter 3D printer that doesn’t require a lot of tinkering at the onset and has a fair learning curve, the Maker Select Plus is a great option. Likewise for veteran enthusiasts who are in the market for a cheap and reliable 3D printer capable of handling smaller projects as a secondary 3D printer.
Great article Joseph. I am an owner of a maker select plus, and I think you summed it up beautifully. This printer is a great starter set up if your looking to print your own designs, the hardest part of dealing with this printer is getting each print setting dialed and it takes time to figure out what does what.
Buy this as your first printer, its a good move.