Monoprice has made a name for themselves in the 3D printing world by finding their own niche within the industry. They often reproduce open-source systems and sell them for a fraction of the cost of the real 3D printer. With the low price though, you often still get top-notch quality, at least for some of their models.
Monoprice Maker Architect is a “workhorse” for a fraction of the cost. We put workhorse in quotes as this model has been the middle of a lot of controversies. Some users report amazing reviews of an awesome machine for dirt cheap, while others report a machine that barely stands on its own. It had all the promise of being a break-through. Unfortunately, cutting costs in this situation did not work out. One of the biggest sells of the Maker architect is it is modeled after the Flash Forge Pro and MakerBot Replicator, which each run well over $1,500. You could find the Maker Architect for about $300.
Of course, this is a budget 3D printer, so it does have its limitations. It does not have a heated bed, nor is there an auto-leveling feature. You can upgrade it, but Monoprice no longer supports this machine, so you are on your own with this. But, if you can get past the limitations, this is a decent 3D printer for very few dollars.
Core Features of the Monoprice Maker Architect:
- Wooden Frame: Put the Monoprice Maker Architect right next to the MakerBot Replicator, and you will have a hard time saying which is which. The Maker Architect uses an extremely similar wooden mostly enclosed design. The top of the machine is open where the wiring and cable run. Other than that, the walls are clear plastic windows framed by thin wood walls. I do really like the design, even if it is borrowed from another printer.
- FlashForge Mighty Board: As I previously mentioned, Monoprice is known for using open source 3D printers as the basis for their models. They took it as far as installing the FlashForge Mighty Board in the Maker Architect. This is the main control board for 3D printers. So you were essentially getting a FlashForge 3D printer brain inside of a MakerBot Replicator frame. Find one online where they sell for under $300, that’s a steal.
Here are the key specs of the Monoprice Maker Architect 3D printer:
|Build Area||8.9″ x 5.7″ x 5.9″|
|Nozzle Diameter||0.4 mm|
Some of the “nice to have things” on the Monoprice Maker Architect:
- Upgradable (somewhat): depending on who you talk to you will get different results when it comes to successfully upgrading the Maker Architect 3D printer. Some users have reported not being able to upgrade their machines at all. While others have upgraded it without any issues, however, if you can upgrade, they are awesome. You can get yourself a heated build plate to be print with more filaments. Also, you can set up the Maker Architect with dual extruders. Multiple filaments, colors, prints, and quicker printing is always a good thing.
- Price: Monoprice’s claim to fame is using open-source designs and finding ways to cut costs, which trickles down to the consumer. They have created some amazing, high-performing 3D printers for a fraction of the cost of the original. The Maker Architect is no different. You can save yourself about $1,000 by going with Monoprice. If you just need a cheap addition to your collection or need to get into the game without breaking the bank, the Monoprice Maker Architect 3D Printer is a great option for that. Check out the latest prices on Amazon.
Some of “not so nice to have things” with the Monoprice Maker Architect:
- Unheated build plate: This means limited choices with a filament. It is mostly suited for printing with PLA, but there are a few other filaments you can use as well.
- Limited connectivity: You can use either a USB connection or print files stored on an SD card, but there is no WiFi capability. Well, this isn’t terrible, it does take away some functionality and you will need to have a computer nearby if that is how you plan to transfer models to the printer.
- Discontinued: Unfortunately, the Monoprice website no longer provides support for this 3D printer, so buyer beware. You can still find it on Amazon and a few other sites, but you will have to dig through websites and forums for any troubleshooting help. If you enjoy a tough problem and are good at finding solutions, then this shouldn’t be an issue for you.
Final Take: A controversial 3D Printer that is Best Left in the Past
When Monoprice supported the Maker Architect, it was a great 3D printer. It is a duplicate of one of the best workhorse 3D printers we have ever seen. It was very similar to its popular open-source, still manufactured, models it is based off. With many similar parts and components, the Monoprice machine ran almost identical to its counterparts. As well Monoprice is known for making high quality, budget-friendly 3D printers. But there is a reason the company decided to stop supporting the Maker Architect.
There have been too many issues surrounding this 3D printer to advise anyone to pursue it. From miss-marketing of an upgradeable machine to failing parts, it is not worth the headaches. There are a lot of other duplicates that perform just as well and even better than the Maker Architect, and their respective companies still support them. Don’t let this one scare you from Monoprice. They are still a great and reliable 3D printer company and offer many other great machines.