MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer Review 2019 – is the MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer worth the money? Review of features, pricing, print quality and more.
Until a couple of years ago, only a handful of people had had the resources required to purchase 3D printers. In addition, there were no such demand for them as well, as people generally wait to see the function of the latest techniques before purchasing them However, things have changed drastically in the past few years. Nowadays, one can purchase such a unit for under a hundred Dollars. Obviously, you should not expect miracles from these devices. They are mainly targeted at newbies, planning to set their foot on 3D printing land. Let us understand the basic differences between standard printers and their 3D cousins.
When a draftsman creates a draft for a structure, he does so using length and breadth. The visualizer adds depth (the third dimension) by drawing an image of the skeleton provided by the draftsman to give it a three dimensional effect with the use of shades and light effects. However, although these drawings look three dimensional, you will find that they are still two dimensional by running your hand over them. However, unlike traditional laser or inkjet printers that print on the “X axis” (length) and breadth (Y axis), 3D printers also adds the depth scale… “Z axis. This makes it possible to crease accurate representations of objects. In fact, if the draftsman includes the “Z axis” on the draft, using an AutoCad like software that tallies with the engine of the printer, he can easily create a mini version of the structure, albeit scaled down by a huge percentage. Can you even dream about the things you can do with the 3D printers once you have mastered it? You can recreate any structure or build a new one. You can also make three dimensional gift items and sell them at a huge profit margin as there is a wide market for such promotional products. Let us move forward and put the MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer through its paces and see what it is capable of doing. We shall be reviewing the 5th generation model, as it is the last one the company issued.
MakerBot us the largest name in the 3D printing industry. Their Replicator model has gone through a number of changes and their 5th generation model is the most advanced till date. The company was the undisputed king when this version was released. However, many other companies have since launched their brands. We shall also check whether this printer is still a viable option.
Even though this printer is several years old, it still boasts amongst the best features and specifications in the business. I was not too pleased with its maximum resolution of 50 micron, considering the hefty price tag of the device, the company makes up for it with a hefty 9.9″ x 7.8″ x 5.9″ build area. This permits you to print larger pieces, not possible on most other printers. Be prepared for a surprise as this gadget neither has dual extruders nor a heated bed. However, is has some features that is not available on any 3D printer such as its inbuilt network connected camera that permits you to view your print through the MakerBot application. The company’s smart extruder system permits users to swap out their hot ends quickly. If you are looking for a feature packed 3D printer, this is the one for you.
Unboxing and setting up the unit
The unit is nearly completely assembled straight out of the box. Just plug its power cord to a power outlet, attach the smart extruder, and follow on screen instructions (the LCD screen of the printer). The manufacturer software will help guide you through the other steps such as filament loading and bed leveling. It should not take you more than 15 minutes to get the printer ready for printing. You might face problems in connecting the Replicator to your WiFi network. However, you need not worry, as you complete the printing process without it. The WiFi comes in handy if you want to monitor the prints from the printer through their mobile application, which is extremely convenient. For printing without WiFi, connect your computer to the Replicator for a couple of minutes and follow the steps shown on the LED screen.
Smart extruder with functional device:
The device is built of solid plastic and outscores the competitors by miles. This is, without doubt, the most user friendly and best designed 3D printer I have come across. The LED screen is big enough to view the text on it without squinting. This printer boasts of a magnetically attached “smart extruder.” I loved the easy detach layout of the device, which allowed me to effortlessly remove the extruder in case it gave any problem. Try this on any other printer… you will require align keys and screwdrivers. The huge number of internal sensors play a huge role that detect filament problems and inform you before your print gets ruined.
The WiFi connectivity as well as the remote monitoring through the built in camera in an awesome addition. In case the smart extruder detects issues, and temporarily pauses the printing process, you will receive a notification on your smartphone immediately. This allows you to stay in the loop regarding what your 3D printer is doing as well as reduces downtime significantly. Remember, you will receive the notification even if you are miles away from the printer.
We always tend to check the hardware but never bother to check the software. The software provided (different versions for mobile, PC, and onboard) is simply awesome. Unlike other printers of the same category and class, MaretBot allows you complete access over the device. The design of the software is extremely simple and you can easily change the functions. The onboard software is perhaps, the easiest to use, and even novices can learn it in a couple of days. Their software, is unarguably the simplest and feature filled slicer program that I have yet seen. Unfortunately it only works with this hardware, so you cannot use it on other similar printers. The print performance is the best I have seen in the industry.
• Extremely easy to use
• Intuitive software
• Convenient design
• Instantaneous phone alerts
• Occasional filament issues
• Expensive ($2.254)
Charles Stephenson received a Masters Degree in Engineering from MIT University. Charles has been working in the Industrial 3D Printing industry for over 5 years. Charles regularly contributes content to several 3D Printing websites including Pirate3D.com.