In the early days of desktop 3D printing, MakerBot made a name for itself by offering one of the only kit machines. Their reputation as industry leaders grew until their name became synonymous with 3D printing. Then the trouble came: After losing much of their community goodwill by going closed source, MakerBot released the Gen 5 Replicator. Packed with all kinds of bells and whistles, it had problems, and layoffs ensued as unhappy customers discovered their machines degraded in quality over time. MakerBot is now trying to regain their standing with the release of the Replicator+. While not perfect, the + is a great step up.
The Replicator+ looks and feels like a 5th Gen at first glance, but a closer inspection reveals that the design has been refined. There is a larger build volume and a much improved bed surface that’s not only easily removed, but flexes for smooth print release. The Wi-Fi connectivity actually works, and printing from the mobile app or from the desktop app is simple, although the mobile app could use some improvements. The built-in camera helps you monitor your progress.
While they scored fairly well, the prints still feel slightly off. Layer lines feel chunkier than necessary, seams are not stitched as well as they could be, and top fills are a little sparse even if they score well in our test conditions.
Put to the Test
For our rating procedure, we run our test prints and score them, but we generally don’t reprint them (you can read more about testing and scoring at makezine.com/comparison/3dprinters). However, I’ve had this machine for months and have reprinted the test models a few times along with other items to see if there would be extruder problems such as those we observed with the 5th Gen. Instead, I actually saw an improvement in my prints, as MakerBot upgraded their software and continued to work on the profiles for their new machine.
Prints Are the Product
The Replicator+ seems to indicate that MakerBot is coming back around a bit. The key is that the prints are the really important end product, not the features of the machine. For die-hard MakerBot fans, or those curious about the brand’s direction, the Replicator+ is helping right the ship and will make many users happy.
Price as Tested $2,499
Build Volume 295×195×165mm
Bed Style Non-heated custom surface
Filament Size 1.75mm
Open Filament? No (voids warranty)
Temperature Control? Yes (tool head 235ºC max)
Print Untethered? Yes (via USB, internal memory, or Wi-Fi)
Onboard Controls? Yes (with a scroll wheel and graphic LCD)
Host/Slicer Software MakerBot Print
OS Windows, Mac
Firmware Custom MakerBot
Open Software? No
Open Hardware? No
Max Decibels 69.2