At a price of around $2500 the Makerbot Replicator 2 is an over-priced high-end printer that doesn't quite live up to it's hype.
11.2 x 6 x 6.1”
USB, SD Card
There are many high-end 3D printers available in the market today with premium specifications. Finding the right mix of features to suit your desired project needs can be confusing, especially when you start comparing the specifications on different competing models.
The Makerbot Replicator 2 is one of the more advanced and costly desktop 3D printers, designed for serious corporations with high-end projects. Boasting a clientele list that includes the MIT and NASA, this machine seems like the kind to stand out from the competition.
But before we get sold on the idea, let us review the features and performance of the Makerbot Replicator 2 to identify the strong points and reveal any drawbacks it may have. Does it really live up to the hype?
The Makerbot Replicator 2 is a compact printer that will easily fit on your desk. This machine is delivered preassembled for out-of-the-box processing and features a closed build area with a simple user interface.
The printer consists of a black metal frame with a transparent door at the front, side windows, as well as plastic cover that sits at the top. This printer measures 14.7*19.1*12.8 inches and weighs in at about 27.8 pounds.
The build platform inside the box moves vertically and at the top are two extruders that move horizontally, front to back and side to side. The printer has three different settings for resolution including high, medium, and Low.
Overall, the Replicator 2 has a sturdy build, thanks to its powder-coated steel frame and wear-resistant bearings. There is a tiny LCD screen you can use to adjust the print settings, although with limited functionality.
The printer does well when it comes to printing complex internal structures. You get to choose among three different options of print quality with distinct levels of resolution such as low, medium, and high.
The highest resolution produces impressive models, and even though I’ve seen sharper edges, the prints are generally clean enough to be used on various applications.
There is very little stepping, even when dealing with sharp curves.
When you finish calibrating the build plate, you will be instructed to create your first print, which is already stored on the in-built SD Card.
This provides you with a great way to confirm that the printer is properly set up and that it will function without issues.
I suggest testing it with nut and bolt test model or forever bracelet to truly test the mettle of the Makerbot 2.
The printer doesn’t come with software, so you have to download it directly from the company’s website.
Unfortunately, the software is print-only and if you want to create your own prints, you can use other 3D CAD software. However, bear in mind that if you go with the CAD software, the learning curve tends to be higher, especially if it’s your first time using it.
Reviews by beginners, as well as experts show that the Replicator 2 is a high-maintenance printer.
Besides, it doesn’t have an automatic bed leveling feature and re-calibrating it after every few prints can prove to be a letdown for a printer in its price range.
This machine only prints in PLA. And despite it being optimized for ABS, it tends to jam more often than not.
Not only is fixing this a turnoff, but there are also many other parts that have been reported to fail such as the fans, extruders, and motherboards.
Makerbot has optimized the Replicator 2 with a proprietary PLA print material.
Although it limits you to the range of print material you can use, it also helps in quality control and eliminates 3rd party options as a possible area of concern.
One great feature on this printer is the dual extruder that allows you to print models in different colors.
This can prove to be enhancing to the possibilities of your project, especially if you have specific goals you want to achieve.
The 100-micron layer resolution you get is among the highest in the industry. It also offers ease of use; all you need to plug in the machine, load the PLA spool, and press the print button to get on with the printing.
Although Replicator 2 has a closed system, you can utilize a variety of applications and CAD systems that are freely available on the net.
Makerbot provides you with their “MarkerWare” software, which has a leading number of downloads.
The Makerbot Replicator 2 retails for about $2500, which is not a small sum of money.
If you are looking to buy one, you need to get third-party suppliers given that the company keeps on replacing the old models and removing them from their store.
The upgraded version, Replicator + retails for just about the same cost, so I don’t see why anyone would go for the original version.
I don’t exactly feel the price on this printer reflects the level of functionality it offers; considering that it has a fair share of limitations.
Now this is an area where Makerbot does well compared to the competition. The customer support team is quick to respond to queries and go beyond the call of duty to accommodate every customer.
You can communicate with the support team via email, live chat or make a phone call.
However, if you didn’t subscribe to the MakerCare service, don’t expect to get any feedback earlier than three days.
Their warranty policy lasts for just six months, which is quite a short duration for me when you take into account the kind of investment you are making.
If you asked me, I wouldn’t say that the Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer lives up to its market hype. Even though the printer has a couple of standout features, it is dogged by complaints from customers about various faults and failures.
The pricing also doesn’t do much to help its cause. It is hard for individuals to purchase it for use on a personal project.
There are 3D printers under $1000 better suited for personal use that will deliver satisfactory prints.