Review – Makerbot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer

 

I Give this Printer a 6.5 Out of 10

Who is this printer for?  Experienced hobbyists, tinkerers, and people who know what they are doing.

The Makerbot Replicator 2 is intended for a large audience. From makers to architects, this printer is supposed to be for almost anyone. The reason I say “almost” is because this printer comes with a hefty price tag of $1629, so you have to be ready to make a large investment if you want to buy this printer. In fact, I am not saying this investment will pay you back (read my full review to see why). But if you are looking for a good PLA printer you may want to consider the Makerbot Replicator 2.

 

The Makerbot Replicator 2 has a rather large build volume of 11.2″ X 6.0″ X 6.1″ Which is ideal for every single print I have ever needed to print. In fact I have never exceeded anything over 6”X 6”Still, It is nice to be able to have that kind of flexibility.

I have had this printer for about a year now, and for the first few months the Makerbot Replicator 2 produced some amazing quality parts and was incredibly easy to set up and use. In fact, I had mine up and running in about 15 minutes.  Mine did come with a slightly scratched build plate, but the scratch did not seem to interfere with my prints. Speaking of the build plate, the Replicator 2 comes with an acrylic build plate, which you NEED to apply some painters tape to for parts to stick. However, Makerbot does supply some painters tape in the box.

Now for some of the bad…

The Makerbot Replicator 2 comes with a relatively small extruder. This means that it is easier for clogs and jams to happen. In fact, after a while jams seemed to be happening very frequently. Luckily, they are very easy to clear.

In about my 3rd month of printing, I turned on the printer and got a nasty surprise. About halfway through a print of a duck, I got this error “Heater Error! My temperature reads are failing! Please check my connections”.   hqdefault1

Huh? This was a very non-descriptive message. I had to cancel my print (it wouldn’t restart) and completely shut down my printer. When I started it back up again, after a few seconds I got the same error! So then I contacted Makerbot’s support team. Although they quickly responded, they recommended I purchase a toolbar replacement kit for $150! I decided this was much too expensive for me and decided to look on the forums. Here I was told to check my thermocoupler connections. Apparently sometimes your thermocouple (the temperature sensor) can come loose from the control board. For a $1629 dollar machine, you really shouldn’t have to tinker around in the motherboard. But I did it anyway, and found that myThermocouple

thermocouple was completely intact. Still, I took the thermocouple out and cleaned it off. Then I reassembled everything and the printer didn’t give me any errors! My happiness was short-lived though, because when I started the pre-heat function the printer went nuts! The printer couldn’t decide if it was at 50 degrees or 500. Eventually the printer gave me the same error. So I went onto the forums again, and found out that my thermocouple could be short-circuiting. Now I had to order a new one for $45 and the new thermocouple took about two weeks to ship! You can buy my new thermocouple here.  All that time the printer was uselessly sitting on my desk. Finally, the thermocouple arrived and I installed it into my printer. This process was relatively simple but still rather tedious. Once again I booted up my printer, but this time when I tried to pre-heat the extruder everything worked!

For a few weeks, the printer was back up and running and printing beautifully again. After the printer started working though, I used it very intensively to make up for all it’s down time. After awhile though, I noticed that my 3D printed parts starting to become thinner and wispier. Eventually, it was hard getting the printer to extrude anything at all! After a bit of tinkering this was fixable, but I could never get the print quality back to where it was when I unboxed the printer.

In conclusion:

This is an okay printer if you are willing to tinker with it for a while. In the beginning mine produced amazing quality parts, but things quickly went down hill from there. I would NOT recommend this printer if you want a machine that works for a long period of time. Although I believe that with some tinkering this machine has the potential to create some truly amazing 3D stuff.

Pros:  

  1. Build Volume
  2. Build Quality (when working)
  3. Print Adhesion (with painters tape)
  4. Support team/User database
  5. LCD Display

 

Cons:

  1. Reliability
  2. Closed Source
  3. Open Frame
  4. Hard to tinker with (without breaking warranty)
  5. Smaller Extruder
  6. PRICE!
  7. Shipping/packing issues? (Scratched build plate)            
  8. Only prints in PLA                      

 

 

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