The MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer is a full-featured 3D printer with experimental dual extrusion. If you are a 3D printing expert or a pioneer, you will enjoy exploring the frontiers of 3D printing.

Since this 3D printer has dual extrusion, you can add a new level of creativity to your designs. When printing with two interlaced colors, there is no need to pause or swab your models since the dual nozzles are precisely aligned.

3D Printing Primer

If 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 2X Experimental 3D Printer Review

MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer Review

MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer Review

The MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer is optimised for ABS filament. This means you can print snaps, living hinges, threaded objects and much more since ABS is a petroleum thermoplastic with elastic deformation properties.

This printer has a superflat heated aluminum build plate which is used to control heating and cooling better, as well as a clear, six-sided, draft-blocking enclosure that helps prevent uneven cooling, shrinking and cracking. This setup is so much superior to a completely open build platform, where inconsistent cooling can warp the model being printed.

High Resolution Printing

Just like a normal paper printer, this 3D printer can be set to print, ranging from fast-draft through to finer resolution. Use the fast-draft mode to speed up demonstrations and presentations. Use fine 100-micron layer resolution to get smooth-to-the-touch surfaces that don't need sanding, finishing or post-production.

Unboxing the MakerGear M2 3D Printer

It's always good to start this MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer Review with an unboxing. Let's see what you get!

Experiment with your Designs

3D printers are a great way to verify your designs and catch flaws sooner. Here at the industrial design lab, I print my own physical models for collaboration and to bring better products to market, faster.

Used for Design Course

I purchased my MakerBot Replicator 2X last year and I use it primarily for teaching 3D design at my local community campus. As of writing this article, the printer has logged just over 450 hours of build time. With a 95%+ successful print rate when using ABS filament, myself (and my students) are really happy.

ABS vs PLA

Note that this printer is designed to print with ABS filament (and not PLA). That's why the chassis is fully enclosed and even includes a clear top hood to keep the build compartment as warm as possible.

120C – Build Plate Optimum Temperature

Make sure to pre-heat the build plate for at least 15 minutes prior to starting a print. I turn it on right at the start of a class… and it's ready to go when the students are ready to print. Pre-warming the build area helps improve adhesion for the initial layers. It also prevents curling when printing large surface area prints.

Through trial and error, I have found that a build plate temperature 120C is better than the recommended temp of 110C. And here's a tip, don't remove the amber colored Kapton Tape from the build plate. Kapton Tape adheres really well to ABS and thereby prevents ABS parts from warping.

MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer Gallery

What I Love

What really makes this printer special (when compared to other pro-level models with price tags more than $20k) is the learning experiences it provides for my students. The supplied MakerWare software is super easy to use and works right away with little configuration.

But you can also really dig down into the settings and fine-tune your prints by creating custom profiles. This gives more depth to my lessons and ties in nicely with the computer science & software engineering components of my courses.

Capable of Printing with PLA

My students have had the chance to troubleshoot and problem solve in order to print with other materials.

This machine is very capable of printing with PLA (with some modifications). After a student incorrectly purchased a roll of PLA for some personal printing, we were able to find that by adjusting the extrusion temperatures, removing the plexiglass enclosures, and  attaching a couple 80mm CPU fans we had laying around, it would print PLA just as well as ABS. What a bonus!

PLA is great to print with since it is biodegradable and doesn't smell as much as ABS. The active cooling of the PLA allows you to creating some cool bridging prints. Bridging is where a layer of material is printed across a gap… without the use of support material. PLA has a bridging capability which is 3-4x better than ABS.

Experimenting with HIPS

Right now we are experimenting with a spool of HIPS material to use as a soluble support material which will dissolve away in a bath of D-Limonene. This should really expand the range of models that we can print.

Summary

This is an excellent printer that sells at a price point far lower than pro-level machines. The price is not the only thing to consider though. The resolution, build speed, build envelope (max volume) and ability to experiment with new materials is as good (or better) than the other pro-level machines back at the design lab that sell for more than $40k.

If you didn't know, Stratasys purchased MakerBot last year and sells an entry level machine with less features (and is 4x more expensive).

I'll be buying additional MakerBots to use in my classroom, because for the price of one pro-level machine, I can put a MakerBot in every one of my engineering classrooms.

I'm expecting an announcement soon that a new version of the 2X has some of the features of the newer 5th gen Replicators just announced.

Pro's

  • Build volume/speed
  • Affordable materials (when compared to pro-level machines)
  • Customizable Profiles
  • Ability to print with multiple materials
  • Ability to print with two materials (or soluble support material) simultaneously

Con's

  • None!

I really don't have any! As long as you're willing to learn about the machine, how it works, and understand that when you call for support you're just going to get a detailed set of instructions on how to fix it yourself (compared to having a tech come out and fix it for you as with the pro-level machines) then you will be just as happy as I am!

MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer in Action!

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3D Printer Buyers Guide

To make the right choice, have a look at my 3D Printer Buyers Guide. This handy guide allows you to easily compare all 3D Printers and choose the one that is right for your budget and requirements.
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