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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

The new Replicator+, however, was able to finish the task, though not as accurately as I'd hoped it would. While the model was decent, small details such as the tower's inner latticework and pedestrian walkways and handrails were far from accurate, in fact, the handrails wound up as a collapsed thread around the outside of the tower.

MakerBot Replicator+ 3D printer  

The Replicator+ struggled to create more intricate details on models. Here, a 5-in. model of the Eiffel Tower was completed in just under two hours, but the spire and lower pedestrian walkway and railing were not accurately reproduced.

MakerBot's technicians sent me another .stl file containing another version of the Eiffel Tower -- about 30% larger than the original job  (or 6.5 inches in height) -- to print. That print job completed the pedestrian walkway and had some success with the scaffolding, but the detailed latticework was poorly formed. This, I believe, is mostly due to the machine's rather poor resolution. It also took about five hours to complete the task.

While the Replicator+'s specifications state it's able to create layers from 100 microns to 400 microns (0.001mm to 0.004mm) in size, it was sometimes not accurately extruded -- leaving finished models with more post-print cleanup than I'm used to.

As far as speed, the smaller Eiffel Tower took one hour, 55 minutes to complete. Compared to one of my more favored printers -- the $1,250 (Amazon price) LulzBot Mini that I reviewed last year -- the MakerBot Replicator took about 10 minutes longer to complete the task. The Lulzbot was also far more accurate in creating details.

MakerBot Replicator+ 3D printer  

The 6.5-in. tall Eiffel Tower during its build. The Replicator+ automatically deposited both the raft and the scaffolding to help support the tower's arches. While it built the tower sufficiently, the details were somewhat muddled.

Next, I printed a set of four Pokemon-style chess pieces. The print job tests how well the machine is able to build multiple objects at the same time. Again, the chess pieces were completed, and relatively quickly (in one hour and 50 minutes), but there was more post-print cleanup needed for filament that went astray or hung down from tails and ears.

Overall, I think the chess piece print job was a success. However, the pieces were no more precisely replicated than those I'd printed previously on a $270 machine - XYZprinting's da Vinci Mini. But the da Vinci Mini failed to accurately reproduce the Eiffel Tower -- so it did lack the level of precision for more intricate models that the MakerBot offers.

 

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