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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.

Overview

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.

Conclusion

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.

More:
A Video Tour of the MakerBot Replicator 2

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. Walt Perko says:

    Isn’t the MakerBot just a clone of several other small printers that have been out there already? I use one from England … it’s okay but now I’m looking into some other printers that seem more robust and much cheaper. I think I’ve also come up with a more efficient way to do multi-color prints …

    1. User says:

      List who it is a clone of…

      1. Bry says:

        “List who it is a clone of” RepRap

        1. User says:

          I can’t find a reprap with these features.

          1. smarter says:

            look harder

  2. Ryan Turner says:

    Can you even call yourself a maker/hacker if you spend 2200$ on a hobby-grade 3d printer?

    I realize how inflammatory that sounds but be honest with me here. Marketing an ultra-expensive 3d printer to “makers” seems strange.

    1. Ryan Turner says:

      I should clarify that I am not implying that being a maker is about being cheap. I just cannot see what yet another open source printer clone could possibly offer to be worth 2000$+.

      1. User says:

        Because some of us want to make 3D designs and print things. You’re confusing “people who want to build s***ty printers as a project” with “makers who want to make things that 3D printers make.”

  3. tonyv says:

    Makerbot abandoned the maker community way back when they introduced the original Replicator. They stopped selling kits and ‘vitamins’. Their machines are aimed squarely at the consumer.

    I doubt this machine would even be mentioned by Make if Bre hadn’t worked there. It is nothing special — MakerGears’ M2 is much nicer and can be ordered as a kit.

  4. Kick says:

    When did Make: became the one to review cousumer products? should leave that to Engadget.

  5. makerbotmakesmemad says:

    So replicator 1 was basically makerbots window vista? After getting burned with one it well be a while before I buy anything from them again.

  6. dimitri silva says:

    The whole thing just stinks – get a reprap instead

  7. Haters gonna hate… This thing is pretty neat. yes it is expensive but I don’t see any reason to be critical of a machine that puts the power of production into the hands of people who are not as well trained as many of us makers. This machine has the print bed only on the Z axis, (smoother faster print), cold stop (neat feature) and a really upscale look. I prefer my Prussa, but then I love anything that took 20-40 hours of my time to produce results. I’m emotionally invested in that little beauty! This “replicator 2″ runs PLA (almost) exclusively… I think any machine that puts production into more people’s hands, and encourages a more sustainable material is a step in the right direction. Perhaps more of a ‘consumer product” this item grew out of the maker movement, and I think that is pretty neat.

    1. Syntax Error says:

      Got to agree Brad, I am not looking for a product I have to build/hack to use in my business. This will be a business tool that I can’t buy for under 10k else where…

      1. augmentedfifthAugmentedFourth says:

        I concur!

        All these comments are basically “sellout” rants. I guess once you start making money you’re not cool anymore…

        What about those of us who don’t have the time to waste building our own 3D printer or >$10K to spend on a pro-model? Hell, I think the price-point is perfect; I’d invest if Makerbot was publicly-traded!

        Sorry guys, some of actually make things that are profitable…to put food on the table. A company might actually have $2-3K in the budget to buy a 3D printer but not a weeks worth of an engineers salary + overhead to waste on building a DIY contraption.

  8. [...] wildly popular Replicator 3D printer, is now faster, quieter, and more rigid than the original, Make [...]

  9. [...] Make har gjort ett minitest av Replicator 2 [...]

  10. Jos Scheepers says:

    Will Cartesio be in that ultimate guide?
    As that is the ultimate machine.

    1. Jos says:

      Ohh Hi Ryan,
      this thing is NOT open source

      1. Jos Scheepers says:

        The replicator2 that is.
        Cartesio Is open source

  11. jaysanlunt says:

    It’s a great machine when it actually works.

    It still has many many flaws, the filiment is always wound too tight that you get many breakages or jamming during long prints causing many many wasted hours. For example on a 20 hour build I returned about half way through to find the filament stuck because it was too tight. Suppliers always say its the customers fault and that we have unwound it and rewound it too tight or loaded it wrong (only 2 ways to put it and both cause errors). Why would anyone unwind 100+ meters of cable for no reason just to have to rewind it back on?

    Also the build plate must be realigned a lot unless you do a raft (base) on every print. Unfortunate this uses a LOT of filament when doing a large number of projects.

    The next problem is the software used to print, The Makerware software works great but in my experience using it on both Mac and on a Windows machine the Makerware would randomly crash when left open for many hours, which you must do when printing form a computer also you have to reinstall it many many times do to it saying there is a background service error which never fixes no matter what you do except reinstall again and again and again….. Or if your unlucky like me the SD card seems to also randomly corrupt the files on it. The SD card is also only formatted in FAT16 which makes it annoying if your a MAC user when you have to reformat due to it corrupting your files.

    So far out of 4 spools of Fillament (roughly 4 kilo) I have managed to print without any trouble less than a handful of items (literally) about a handful of rings and some other small trinkets, any large print over 4+ hours (which is anything larger than your fist) fails or is misaligned or full of errors.

    I’ve taken it back to the suppliers and they tell me it worked for them but many people online are having the same trouble, yet when I show the suppliers the misaligned models they blame a cable which I am now expected to install myself and which I had to wait over a month for. These can be amazing machines when they work but currently at around a 96% failure rate I am ready to take this back to the supplier and return it where the sun don’t shine.

    I would have been better off buying a cheap 3D printer kit for less and leave it sit in the box unbuilt so I would not have to be so stressed for all this time :(