We had an unprecedented opportunity to see and test the MakerBot Replicator 2 last week as part of the research for our upcoming Fall special issue, Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing (on newsstands Nov 20, 2012). We will have a detailed review, with test results and test print images, in the issue. Here are some excepts from Emmanuel Motta’s review. – Gareth
The Makerbot Replicator 2 is just that, a second generation of MakerBot’s wildly popular Replicator 3D printer, now faster, quieter, and more rigid than the original. “Hand assembled in Brooklyn, NY,” the Replicator 2 sports a sleek black metal and PVC case, oil-impregnated bronze linear bearings, a larger build volume, and faster printing times. The upgrades make what was already a fantastic machine, even better. But the improvements do come at an increased cost that could be a deal breaker for some buyers.
The Replicator now sports a sleek modern look with an all-black sheet metal frame and PVC side panels that are removable, customizable, and allow for easy cleaning of any excess material. The machine has kept the same overall footprint and basic structure. A larger, more responsive LCD panel on the front right corner allows for easy control and monitoring of the machine. A highlight of the new controls is a “Cold Pause” feature that pauses the print, cools the extruder, and waits for you to resume where you left off which comes in handy in more than a few situations.
The upgraded features on the machine itself are complemented by brand new software that replaces the open source Replicator-G. Created by MakerBot, the new Makerware software has a cleaner and more intuitive user interface. Scale, rotate, and arrange multiple .STL models on the build platform with ease. Slicing is now performed by Miracle Grue. The sliced model is loaded onto an SD card (included), inserted into the Replicator 2, and by simply hitting print, you can sit back and watch (or not).
Another fun, though perhaps less useful new feature is the ability to select the color of the interior LED lighting to suite your mood.
The build area of the Replicator 2 is now inhabited by a quick release, frosted acrylic bed specifically made for use with PLA. PLA, or Polylactic acid, is a corn-based biodegradable and sustainable medium for 3D printing that does not require a heated bed and is known for its lower melting point, and more consistent printing in varied temperatures and environments.
Overall, the changes made to the Replicator 2 are a definite improvement over the original model. The new look and hardware/software improvements make the machine more dependable, sturdier, and consistent, with a larger build size, faster start to finish print times, and quieter operation.
The Replicator 2 single extruder model will sell for $2,199 and the soon to be released dual extruder 2X model will set you back $2,799.
For a much more detailed review, images of test prints, pro tips, and much more on the Replicator 2 (and 14 other printers), look for our Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing, coming in mid-November.