The MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer is currently the flagship, consumer grade 3D printer at a reasonable price point.
This is the brand-name 3D printer that others are compared to and is a fast, easy and affordable 3D printer for creating professional quality models. This is the fourth generation of this machine and is the best desktop 3D printer on the market today.
3D Printing PrimerIf you are new to 3D printing, get up to speed before reading my reviews. I have also created a 3D Printer Buyers Guide so you can easily compare all the different models and choose the right one depending on your budget and requirements.
My MakerBot Replicator 2 Review – Desktop 3D Printer
One great feature about this 3D printer is that it has 0.1mm (100-micron) layer height resolution. You can set the resolution from fast draft to fine resolution so you can create smooth to touch surfaces that do not need to be refinished (no sanding, finishing or post-production).
With a build volume of around 6.5 litres, you can build bigger models. This means you can create professional-quality, high-resolutions prototypes and complex models that you never thought possible.
You can also print multiple objects at once and get to work on your next designer much faster.
MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer Gallery
MakerBot PLA Filament
The consumables for this 3D printer are low cost MakerBot PLA filaments which are available in solid and translucent colors. The MakerBot PLA filament is a renewable bioplastic that always sticks to the build platform reliably. You won't get the usual peeling, curling, sliding or shrinking that sometimes occurs when using lower quality PLA filament. The MakerBot Replicator 2 is optimized for this new bioplastic PLA filament.
Active Cooling Fan
This 3D printer also has an active cooling fan for excellent overhands and bridges. No sagging models with this printer!
The MakerBot Replicator 2 includes a 1lb spool of natural PLA filament to get you started.
Free Software Included
The awesome MakerWare software is included for free and includes regular updated via download. That's great because I hate it when a product is only supplied with updated for major releases such as 1.x or 2.x etc. MakerWare allows you to prep your 3D files for printing in a few seconds.
Unlike other 3D printers, the MakerBot Replicator 2 has a sturdy powder-coated steel frame that allows for high-speed 3D printing in any environment. The steel frame is bolted together securely. It can't wobble or warp like a wood chassis on other lower cost 3D printers.
Perfect for Work or Home Use
Although we have a few of these MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers at work, it's such an incredible machine, I also bought one to use at home.
It truly is incredible, this machine can make almost anything that you can imagine.
But first you need to remember that like anything which is a little complex, there is a learning curve that you need to progress through so you can create 3D objects.
Check and Calibrate
Sometimes you might have some minor issues such as the build plate not leveling (tramming). This usually occurs with machines that were handled roughly during shipping. 3D printers are complicated machines that have loads of electronics and mechanical devices that can be easily knocked out of alignment. It's just something to be aware of. If your machine is DOA, just send it back ASAP.
Some early reports from users of this machine indicated that they had loose screws, random items installed incorrectly or an extruder with a problematic tension system.
My MakerBot had none of these problems (although mine is more recent and the bad reports were from the very first version). Also, my recent MakerBot had upgraded extruders… so that's good. Successive versions (like anything) are more reliable… but this is not a simple device like a coffee machine!
Thoughts on the Software
Prepare for a learning curve in order to use the software. You need to be able to use basic CAD software.
There are various CAD software options, some free (such as Google SketchUp & OpenScad) but personally I like Cubify Invent which is only $49. That's cheap for a full CAD and Invent is great because it was built from the ground up for 3D printing. If you don't want to spend any extra money right away, just use the included MakerWare software.
Why is it so Good?
I work in an Industrial Design Studio which also has a machine shop with large CNC equipment. But the MakerBot Replicator is an entirely new way of producing goods using “additive manufacturing” instead of the usual “subtractive manufacturing” (milling, lathing, drilling etc).
Since I work with CAD all day, it's easy for me to sit down and design 3D art, or 3D print scanned works of art or make small parts and widgets for around the house. You are only limited in your imagination and some of the limitations of the replicator.
You can also buy different types of filament such as a soft rubbery filament, a wooden plastic filament, and the strong nylon filament.
Affordable Price Point
3D printing has been around since the 1980's and there are professional machines out there that can do incredible things. But it's only within the year that a product at a price point for home use has been released. 3D printer kits have been around for 2 – 3 years, but if you want something you can take out of the box and start using right away, the MakerBot Replicator 2 is that machine. I was making parts from the minute I turned it on. I even sold two jobs at work on it and produced in house test jigs for several products that we make.
Again, this is not some magic box that churns out 3D objects flawlessly. While this machine is every bit as useful and complicated as a minature CNC machine, you need a certain skill set or the willingness to learn how to use it effectively. If you are an artist, then you'll definitely need to learn some mechanical and computer skills, but it's not hard. It is a consumer grade product that everyone can use.
- Print Technology: Fused Filament Fabrication
- Build Volume: 28.5 L X 15.3 W X 15.5 H CM [11.2 X 6.0 X 6.1 IN]
- Layer Resolution: 100 Microns [0.0039 IN]
- Positioning Precision: XY: 11 Microns [0.0004 IN], Z: 2.5 Microns [0.0001 IN]
- Filament Diameter: 1.75 MM [0.069 IN]
- Nozzle Diameter: 0.4 MM [0.015 IN]
- Chassis: Powder Coated Steel
- Build Platform: Acrylic
- XYZ Bearings: Wear-Resistant, Oil-Infused Bronze
- Stepper Motors: 1.8° Step Angle with 1/16 Micro-Stepping