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Review: MakerBot Replicator+ 3D printer fixes some issues, but quality still lags

Lucas Mearian | Jan. 3, 2017
This 3D printer is 30% faster than its predecessor

As with the last MakerBot Replicator I reviewed, setup of this machine was a snap. I had it up and running in about 10 minutes.

After removing packing material and loading the PLA filament spool onto a retractable hanger bay, you simply follow the instructions on a startup menu on the MakerBot's 2.25 in. x 2.75 in. LED screen. The machine's build plate is also factory-leveled so the printer doesn't need to be leveled out of the box, as was necessary with its predecessor.

MakerBot Replicator+ 3D printer  

The Replicator+ has an easy-to-navigate LED screen.

You can also wirelessly pair the Replicator+, which acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot, using the MakerBot Mobile app, which allows you to print from your smartphone or tablet. The Replicator+ has an Ethernet port and is cloud-enabled so you can control it remotely with the MakerBot Print desktop app or the MakerBot Mobile app. I stuck to using a USB cable to import .stl files to the Replicator+.

With MakerBot Print -- the company's free CAD/slicer software -- you can import .stl files and auto-arrange models during print preparation, and then print them on one or more printers.

The Replicator+'s build plate was also redesigned so models now adhere to it far better than they did on the previous generation of printers. The last Replicator desktop I tested had big issues with model bases warping prior to print jobs finishing because they detached at the edges from the build plate. I even used masking tape to help models adhere -- to no avail.

MakerBot Replicator+ 3D printer  

The Replicator+ was able to easily handle printing multiple projects at the same time. Here's the result of printing four Pokemon-style chess pieces, which it was able to complete in relatively good time -- one hour and 50 minutes.

Another aspect of the new build plate that I really loved is that it's easily removable -- it simply slides forward and off -- and it's extremely flexible, which helps in removing models after they're finished. Just remove the plate, bend it this way and that, and the models more easily detach than they did from the previous machine.

Lastly, MakerBot claims this new printer is "28% quieter" than its past machines. I'll heartily agree with that statement.

Print quality

The first print job I completed was a five-link chain that came in the Replicator+'s onboard flash memory. It printed accurately and without problems.

Next came my litmus test for all 3D printers: The Eiffel Tower.

The last MakerBot Replicator I tested was unable to print my go-to, 5-in. tall model of the Eiffel Tower. It's an intricate piece with a great amount of detail in its scaffolding that's always a challenge for 3D printers to replicate. Some are more successful than others. The previous Replicator, however, was unable to complete the task and ended up extruding a spaghetti-like hairball atop the first stage of the tower.

 

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