First Impressions: My MakerBot Replicator 2 Has Arrived

by Jason King on June 5, 2014

Makerbot UnpackedToday was the day I picked up the new MakerBot Replicator 2 from the local Post Office. When I turned up it was the only package on the floor near the entrance.

The postal worker said it was so big he had nowhere to put it and was going to send it back if I didn’t pick it up today.

I’m so glad he didn’t send it back, but I think he must have been joking anyhow…

Unpacking

When I had lugged it home together with a couple of kilograms of filament it was time to unpack it. Unpacking was straightforward with the manual at the very top and the first thing you see after opening the box, what a great idea. Just remember when removing the printer from the box not to use the black cable (wiring loom to the extruder) as a handle because although it might look like one it isn’t.

One other thing to note while checking that all the items listed in the manual were present is that I couldn’t find the SD card. A short while after I’d concluded it was missing I noticed that it was actually in the machine already, just above the LCD display.

The Manual

Makerbot BoxedWhenever I buy anything new the last thing I look at (if ever) is the manual, but on this occasion I decided to consult it first, especially as they’d made the effort to make sure it was the first item you’d see when unpacking.

The manual is very clear and easy to follow. I highly recommend following it both to unpack and set up the printer, even if you think you know what you’re doing. There’s a few zip ties to remove and some you really shouldn’t, so without the manual you could well get this part wrong.

Setup Process

The setup process only really involves a few steps. Clipping in the build plate is easy. Adding the filament, which to my surprise they’d included (clear PLA), and feeding it through to the extruder was simple enough. You just need to remember to push the filament firmly into the extruder at the right point until the motor grabs it and some molten PLA is extruded.

Then comes the important part, levelling the build plate. I had two goes at this but with a little practice you’ll soon master it. There’s three little hand turnable screws which allow you to adjust the height as the nozzle moves to each one in turn. As well as having the manual, there’s plenty of text on the LCD display to guide you step by step too.

I was also glad to see that a UK power lead was included as well as the standard US one. This is another advantage of buying it from RoboSavvy in the UK, as well as the free UK shipping.

First 3D Prints

First MakerBot 3D PrintsAfter the setup process the LCD display then politely asks if you’d like to make something from the SD card. It’d be rude not to at this point so I made a nut and bolt, then a chain, then swampy (my favourite).

Watching the nozzle path as it zips along the X and Y axis is memorizing. I sat for ages just watching it. The items on the SD card are all small and take between 15 and 30 minutes each to print, with the exception of the ape which took about an hour.

It was so fun to watch I printed a comb even though I shaved off all my hair 10 years ago. I did have one failed print when the nut from the nut and bolt print moved on the plate but it worked the second time around. Some sheets of blue painter tape are included which should help prevent build plate slippages in the future. I’ll report back on this when I start to use it soon.

Peek at MakerWare

With a few minutes to spare before dinner I downloaded the MakerWare software for my Windows 7 laptop. I only really had time to drag in an .STL file for a key ring I’d designed in Tinkercad a few weeks ago. I saved it straight to the SD card from MakerWare with no modifications and default settings.

It printed first time and turned out really well with it’s default honeycomb 10% infill. I’ll have a better look at MakerWare soon and report back. You can always download and try the open source ReplicatorG software as well, to see if it suits your needs better.

Conclusions

My MakerBot Replicator 2To be honest I really didn’t think the setup and print process would be so easy and I was pleasantly surprised.

I didn’t want to do too much too soon but I’m really looking forward to trying some different settings, using the MakerWare software properly, downloading designs from Thingiverse and using my new green filament as well as the clear and stunning purple.

First things first though, I’m just glad it’s all set up and working well. If you have any questions then please ask me.

Also feel free to Like and Share this article if you found it useful.

Until next time, happy 3D printing!

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