First Week with the Makerbot Replicator 2

I recently acquired a Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer, and I’ve been playing with it a ton. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Filament sticks to the Build Surface really well.

I’ve found a few things to keep it from sticking:

  • Oil from the Skin on my fingers – Works alright for the main print, but is very useful for the initial strip of filament it lays down on the front edge. I rub my finger along that edge before every build.
  • Hand Cream – Works better than Skin Oil, but still not great. I Probably should experiment with other lubricants, but that’s all I could find in my apartment.
  • Painter’s Tape – Makerbot recommends using painter’s tape and laying it on the build surface. They include a few large sheets of tape as well. This works well, but the tape tears easily, requiring frequent replacement. Originally I would use a spatula or a flat head screwdriver to wedge under the print to get it off, but doing this quickly destroyed the layer of tape. I’ve found that lightly twisting the print using pliers works better and does less damage to the tape.
  • Printing with a Raft – The raft seems to be easier to pry off the surface in some situations, and it peels off of the print surprisingly well. The MakerWare software makes adding a raft really easy.

The edges of the acrylic plate are sharp.

I gave myself a nasty cut when my finger hit the plate while trying to dislodge a print. I’m very careful now when I’m prying off a print, and I’ll often remove the build plate if a print is stuck too well.

Always watch the first layer of a print.

Almost all of my failed prints failed in the first minute of printing. During the warm-up stage, some material oozes out, and sometimes this can get stuck on the extruder head. I’ve always caught this early, but there are horror stories about the extruder head getting covered in filament.

Overhangs work amazingly well.

I’m continually impressed at the overhang angles that I can print. On sharp overhangs you can get some drip artifacts, but I’ve yet to have a build fail due to overhang.

Printing from the SD card is prone to errors.

This was true for me, but I’ve read that this can be an issue for some people more than others. I would get SD cards errors approximately once every 45 minutes of printing, which was terrible for long builds. I switched to using USB from my computer, and it’s worked great ever since.

Overall, I’m incredibly pleased with my printer, and can’t wait to learn more.

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