Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation Review

Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation Review 1
6/10
Our Rating

​The MakerBot Replicator 5th Gen is a decent 3D Printer, however it does come with a few limitations and ultimately falls short

Description

Tech Specs

Supported Materials

PLA

Build Volume

9.92 in x 7.83 in x 5.9”

Extruder

1

Print Speed 

150mm/s

Connectivity

USB, WiFi

Filament Diameter

1.75mm

Makerbot is one of the biggest names in 3D printing that also helped to lay the foundation for the 3D printing movement. 


The company’s maiden printer model, the Replicator, has gone through a number of upgrades through the years, with the latest design being the Replicator 5th generation. 
 
It is a great 3D printer for any seasoned user who’s trying the push the limits of this exciting technology. Funny enough, not many enthusiasts out there know much about this printer.
 
In our previews review we covered the MakerBot Replicator 2, in this review, you’ll get a chance to learn more about the Makerbot Replicator 5th generation.


We take a look at the features it offers and compare its strengths against its weakness to make out its overall worth.
Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation Review 2

Design

The Replicator 5th generation boasts a pretty charming design, which is a testament to the more than sufficient time the design team at Makerbot had. It features a plastic frame which is nonetheless sturdy.
 
The printer is not the smallest you can get, and it will definitely be too big for your desktop. It will need a roomy and designated area to set it up.

This is why the printer is more suitable for professional use than it is for personal use.
 
The control panel is mounted on the top of the printer, which is quite unique in the industry. In terms of usability, you no longer have to keep on bending when you want to key in some settings.

There’s a huge upward-facing display that allows you to do this with relative ease.
 
The printer has a one-of-a-kind “Smart Extruder” that is magnetically attached. This consists of a quick-detach design that enables the user to remove the extruder quickly and easily when you want to troubleshoot for issues.

The extruder also comes with multiple sensors that aid in detecting filament issues before it’s too late.

Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation Review 3

Printing

The Replicator 5th produces some decent prints, but nothing extraordinary. The majority of prints I tested it with came out clean with no obvious flaws.

The device, however, has a tendency to leave behind bits of filament on the surface of the model.
 
The printing process is generally reliable, and although the smart extruder has received a fair share of slack from customers, it sure does have its own virtues.

I would say the dimensional accuracy and the resolution are pretty average, which were the most notable let downs I saw in the printing process.
 
The printing speed is fairly quick and the great thing about this printer is that it gives you control over travel speed, extrusion speed, as well as layer height, etc.

This ensures that you can determine the quality and duration that best suits your schedule.
 
The printer produces models at resolutions between 50-400 microns and its large print bed makes easy work of bigger pieces.

The Makerware software that the machine uses also allows you to choose the infill style, which significantly impacts the speed of printing.
 
The biggest issue I had with the Replicator 5th while printing had to be the filament jams.

Not a single model that I tested printed seamlessly from the start to the end without the filaments being a cause for concern.
 
This printer only supports PLA, which is a little bit limiting for a device in its price range.

However, one feature you’ll enjoy is that the company’s smart software will alert you every time there’s an issue, which helps to reduce the downtime.

Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation Review 4

Features

One feature I really like about this printer is its ability to support a wide range of materials.

This is a credit to the high temperatures that the print head and base can tolerate and the manufacturer’s willingness to support all these materials.
 
This leaves you with a long list of options as far as the print material is concerned and gives you the freedom to get creative and experimental with your models.

You can control the machine directly from your PC by using the LCD display.
 
The TAZ 5 also supports USB and SD Card and is wiFi-enabled. It comes with a modified version of Cura, which keeps you from spending an extra dime when it comes to the software application.

This can be manually installed on Mac, Windows, and Linux devices; basically every other system there is out there.
 
The customized Lulzbot Cora is incredibly easy to use and will recommend to you the most ideal filament and temperatures to operate in for a given model.

You don’t need to keep on referring to guides for instruction when working with this printer.

Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation Review 5

Cost

Looking at the features on the Replicator 5th generation, it sure does feel like a mid-range model, but buying the device will make you think you are investing in a high-end model.

At around $2000, the price is not something that many personal users will be able to comfortably raise.
 
The only consolation you have is that the PLA filament it uses is the cheapest you can find in the market.

And even though you may be able to use third-party filaments, you’ll need to download a specially created print mode for this to happen.
 
I don’t see how Makerbot can justify the steep price of the Replicator 5th generation.

It may pack some more than decent features but the cost is a little bit exaggerated when you consider the overall quality.

Most people would search for a cheaper option without a second thought. 

Support

Makerbot’s online site provides clients with support like tutorials for all its printer models but not for the Replicator 5th generation.

You’re hence left with the option to make a phone call during stipulated hours, and the email support that is provided is no longer as effective.  
 
The warranty information is not also reliable. According to the company manual, the warranty on the printer is limited, but there is no specific reference to this printer in the terms.
 
Generally, the customer support you get after acquiring the printer is definitely wanting, especially when you consider the premium price tag it comes with.

This is an area where the company might want to address if they are to convince clients to buy more of these.

Summary

The Replicator 5th generation is a respectable piece of machinery! It produces a decent quality of prints and the software it employs is relatively user-friendly.

It would be a viable choice for colleges and schools where students can get to learn about 3D printing.
 
However, there are a number of limitations that won’t favor enthusiasts who want to experiment with more exotic printing materials, one of which being it doesn’t support third-party filaments.

Besides, the pricing is pretty steep and may prove to be an instant deal-breaker for some people.
 
If you asked about my final verdict, the Makerbot Replicator 5th generation does not live up to its price tag, there are better options you could look at that will cost you less than $1000.

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