3D Printing with the Makerbot Replicator 2

Well, I finally got an opportunity to test the Makerbot Replicator 2 the other day. I have been eyeing this machine off for a while now and I’ve been waiting for a chance to put it through it’s paces.

Makerbot Replicator 2 - 3D printer

I didn’t get my hands on a brand new one, so I missed seeing the initial Out of Box Experience, however, I can say that it was a straightforward setup. Basically, all you need to do is plug it into the power, connect it to your computer via a USB cable (SD cards are also supported) then calibrate the print tray. The calibration is probably the most time consuming part as you need to ensure the print tray is level. However, the instructions on the LED are quite easy to follow.

Once you’ve got that all sorted, load the filament and fire up the Makerware program on your computer. You can download Makerware from Makerbot.com. It allows you to manipulate your 3D file to ensure your print comes out exactly as you need. You can scale up and down, rotate and flip. Load your 3D file into Makerware, make sure it looks right and then hit the print button.

I did a quick 3D Print of a stock octopus file.

3D Print - Octopus

Makerbot have obviously spent a lot of time developing their flagship 3D printer. There is a clear focus on ease of use and ensuring that the user is aware of what is happening at all steps of the print process. Particular attention to detail has been made in conveying information to the user. One of my favourite microinteractions is when the printer loads new filament. To do this, it needs to warm up the extruder nozzle. Initially there is a blue light in the makerbot, however, when it starts warming up, that light changes red to indicate it is warm enough and the filament is ready. Nice.

My initial impressions of the Makerbot is that it is a really well executed 3D Printer aimed at the entry level user right up to industry types who need easy access to help get their designs visualised at a prototyping stage.

The resolution is about what you’d expect from a filament extrusion system. It’s not the highest you’d come across, but if you need higher, expect to pay for that. For most people, the resolution of the Makerbot would be fine.

I’m pretty happy to have access to one of these and I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces.

Makerbot 3D printer

Featured image Copyright Makerbot – Source: http://store.makerbot.com/replicator2