Here’re the Best Printing Practices for the 4th generation Makerbots: the Replicator 2 and 2X. A big thank you goes out to the support trainers at Makerbot and Joseph and Ryan from the Makerbot Operators Google Group for sharing some valuable knowledge with us.

makerbot1.png

The following topics will be covered:

  • Hacks & Upgrades
  • Print Settings per Material
  • Speed vs Quality settings
  • Support types and use cases
  • Machine Hygiene

Hacks & Upgrades

Spring Load Replicator 2 Block
The most popular hack is the spring loaded drive block for the Replicator 2. This block squeezes the filament in between the drive gear and bearing with a constant amount of pressure, resulting in a much smoother flow of filament. This hack was created by the Makerbot community and has been verified and adopted by Makerbot itself.

tumblr_inline_n59dkhIT2s1rh3qcw.jpg

Gantry Realignment
This is more of a maintenance operation than an actual hack, but is a problem encountered by many Makerbot Replicator owners. If your stepstruder (moving print block with fans and nozzle) is not hitting the endstop, your gantry (the rods and belts that support your stepstruder) could be misaligned, preventing your printer from working normally. This video will walk you through the entire process of realigning it again.

tumblr_inline_n59dm4LqLH1rh3qcw.jpg

Metal Arm Upgrade
This upgrade replaces the standard plastic arms supporting the build platform. The standard arms are more likely to bend over time and can wobble during prints. This metal version will drastically improve your platform’s stability.

tumblr_inline_n59dkxcpxo1rh3qcw.jpg

Makerbot Replicator 2X PLA Hack
Unfortunately, the Replicator 2X can only print ABS out of the box, however this pretty cool (and expert) hack will cool your build platform, making it suitable for PLA prints.

makerbot5.jpg

Print Settings per Material

Makerbot’s slicing tool Makerware has standard settings built in which are more than enough for the beginning and intermediate user. But when you want to create a custom profile to be able to fully customize your 3D printer, Makerware directs you to a plain text file. This tweak adds a simple GUI making the entire experience a lot more user friendly.

Some standard temperature settings for different materials are listed below as a starting point. Play around with them: varying the temperature with 5-10°C will already make a huge difference in the print’s outcome.

PLA (Only on Replicator 2)
Print temp: 210°C (at 100m/s)
Notes: heated bed optional between 40 and 60°C

ABS (Only on Replicator 2X)
Print temp: 230°C (at 100m/s)
Notes: heated bed at 110°C

Other materials are officially not supported but have proven to be printable as well. The settings given below are a starting point and will require tweaking for a high quality finish. Use at your own risk.

HIPS+ABS (Only on Replicator 2X)
Using ABS in first and a dissolvable filament like HIPS in the second extruder gives you an incredible amount of printing freedom. By using HIPS to print the support structure, you can print without having to take overhang into account. Just submerge the structure in Limoneneand the HIPS will dissolve. Keep in mind though that this process requires a lot of tinkering and some 3D modelling knowledge.

Flex PLA
Print temp: 210°C
Notes: it is highly recommended to drastically lower your printing speed to around 20%

Wood
Print temp: 165 (light coloured look) - 210°C (dark coloured)
Notes: heated bed not necessary

Laybrick
Print temp: 175-210°C
Notes: higher temps gives a smoother finish and heated bed not necessary

BendLay
Print temp: 210-240°C
Notes: great for printing light emitting objects

Nylon
Print temp: 260-265°C
Notes: very strong and flexible, great for jewellery or durable prints. Cover your build plate with painters tape and heated bed is optional.

Speed vs. Quality settings

Quality
For the highest quality print choose 10% infill and a layer height of 0,10 mm. Depending on the print, kick down the speed even further to below the Makerware advised settings. Although these settings result in the highest quality, as a beginner it is advised to first get comfortable with all the settings at “medium” or “low” quality. Highest quality prints also have a higher failure rate.

Speed
If you want to print very fast you could of course crank up the extrusion speed to 100 m/s but there are other possibilities as well. Setting the infill to 0% will result in a super fast, but hollow print, making your Makerbot Replicator 2 whistle due to its active cooling (no harm done). But be careful: some prints will collapse since they become too unstable to support their own exterior structure.

Support types and use cases

Rafts
Enabling the raft option will provide your print with a broader first layer. This is especially helpful with larger prints because it will reduce warping and help the print stick better to the building platform. However you will have to spend some time afterwards cleaning up the print.

makerbot6.png

Support
Makerware offers one option for support. This should be used in cases of extreme overhang (over 45 degrees), but is dependent on the shape as well. When crossing a gap between two objects, the overhang can in some case be more than 45 degrees without any need for support.

makerbot7.png

Machine Hygiene/Maintenance

Leveling the build plate
Leveling the build plate frequently is very important to keep your machine in top notch condition. Even a very small inaccuracy can make the difference between a good and a poor print. Run the standard procedure from your printer’s menu and use a business card for the correct distance between your nozzle and build plate.

Cool Down Time
The best thing to do after a print has been completed is to cool down your machine entirely before switching it off. But, if you are in a rush, make sure to at least get it under 100°C before switching it off.

Build plate cleaning
It is important that your build plate provides a rough surface in order for prints to be able to stick to it. Grease from either your hands or lubricating the machine is something you do not want. Make sure you completely clean the build plate on a regular basis, preferably with some acetone and a lint free towel. Need a quick fix for adhesion problems? Try prepping your build plate with a thin layer of glue from a glue stick.

Lubrication
Nearly all the parts of the Replicator 2 & 2X are self lubricating apart from the threaded rod and x-axis idler pulley. To improve the overall life of your printer, make sure to lubricate them once you start hearing squeaky noises or after 50 hours of printing.

makerbot8.jpg

On a final note: the recommendations above are just an indication to get you started. There are no “perfect” settings to print and the key to a good print is experimentation. If you want to share your knowledge or get help, drop a line below :slight_smile:

Do you own a Makerbot Replicator 2 or 2X or want to find one?

This post was initially published here, on May 14, 2014

12 Likes

All really great stuff in the post.

I actually put a glass build plate on my 2X rather than messing with that Kapton tape. Does really great! You must adjust the bed down to accommodate the thickness of the plate. Then Hairspray does the stick or a glue stick. No more stressing about changing the tape and the prints are awesome.

I have also used a glass build plate on my 2X. Great for removing prints and not having to deal with the tape. Although, I find that prints tend to curl at the edges during printing with the glass build plate. I assume it has something to do with the thermal properties of the glass. Do you increase your heated bed temperature? I have attached glass with binding clips, is there a better way to secure the glass to the build plate?

4 best upgrades I ever did to my Rep 2x. 1) Ultibots 1.75mm pinch wheel 2) E3d .4 mm nozzle 3) 1/4" glass build plate used with “purple” elmers glue sticks. 4) assembling my hot ends off the machine with a vertical height gage

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1438814393032731/permalink/1560785060835663/

Buildplate temp you need to find the sweet spot…mine is at 110c now. Temp is also material dependant. If you use other material than the MB brand the temps vary bait too. Rafts and supports help with curling too. These are all design/print config items to think about. I even move stuff around on the buildplate, there may bee thermal differences on the plate as well. I use the clips too, makes for easy removal and cleaning.

Richard - for the glass…I looked into this before, do you place it on top of the existing bed? Also, how do you hold it in place and what thickness of glass do you use. I am a Kapton tape expert with no air bubbles but it very frustrating when I damage it removing parts! Cheers.

I use a heated removable glass plate on my Rep 2 (http://www.bctechnologicalsolutions.com/). I now build with ABS on a Rep2 as needed. I have tried the glass, glass with kapton, but my favorite is to use BuildTak on the glass (http://www.buildtak.com/). Once applied I can run at least 100 prints (assuming I do not manage to gouge the material) before replacing it. Frankly I have to only replace it when that happens and usually it was me being a bit aggressive in removing a part. I do have to add a few degrees to the plate temp (5-10) but the prints usually release with my skinny spatula. I have also printed nylon on the surface by just adding some gluestick to the print area. No more blue tape ever!

Yes, right on the existing plate. Metal spring clips, office depot or staples stuff. (The Black ones)

I’ve been running Buildtak as a print surface. It lasts for about one month of heavy use (5 trays of prints a day). It really improves surface finish and you don’t need acetone. The other material that is in use is PEI film 1 mm thick then stuck to glass with 3m high heat adhesion tape square.

Also for the Rep 2 gantry alignment problem: Someone who is trying to get the gantry to stay where it is supposed to be might find this helpful someday. If you are unable to get it to stay, try this:

After I kept fussing with set screws and it seemed like the pressure of the whole system was off. The left side was not following the right side properly and it would occasionally ‘slip’ causing major aliment issues in the print. This showed up after about 400 hours of printing.

I ended up cutting the belt on the left and installing it with a bit more tension. I used a pair of pliers to pull it tight. This fixed the issue while I ordered a new belt. While doing this I also re-lubricated the rods and together the tighter belt and smoother rods fixed the slipping issue. Whatever you do, DONT push down on the rods because they look a little bent. The whole gantry will pop out and be shooting / dropping parts in a circle around you!!

I need to reassemble a Gantry on a second machine, any guides out there can you recommend?

1 Like

normal paint thinners work the best for me as a cleaning agent for the build plate - better than acetone

This is a good video for the actual gantry assembly. It does not show the Y-idler pulley set up so I had to figure that out myself. If you need to get the Y-idler back on let me know and I can give you some tips

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeNgEfbdjsY&feature=youtu.be

I don´t have replicator 2 o 2x, I have a Replicator Z18 with the “Smart struder”.

I try print “Marvin” with many settings, varying speeds (extrude and travel), quality (layer high in .04 to .09 mm range), and with last firmware and Makerbot desktop versions, temperature, accord with Makerbot and some blogs recomendations. Quality of print change, but I do not obtain high quality print.

I use diferent finishing methods (acetone steems treatement, epoxic resin, etc.) that improve quality, but I expected that printer print a true high quality objects. ¡¡¡I very frusted ¡¡¡¡. May be it is imposible with Z18.

I continue with this challenge until I obtain real high quality.

try lowering the temp to around 210 and lowering the fan speed (or unplugging it). I’ve seen some problems caused by the fan blowing the filament off its target and this makes it low quality. Lower layer heights need way less cooling. And when you think about it the smaller stand is much easier to blow off course. Finding a temp setting that cools while not distorting the shape can take some work. I use simplify 3D but in maker-ware you have to make a custom profile in text editor!!

Have you tried printing out 3 at a time? That may help.

Just biy Simplify3D and you’d be amazed what your replicator can pull out

If they had an eval or test drive I would love to try it out…

Its looks like an expensive version of slic3r… Since there is no free trial I am very suspicious.

yes, but it’s worth it. I did prints with 50 micron layer heights on my Rep2 with it…

I run into a problem where i had to print basically a large 4cm in height cylinder with hundred small circular holes. No slicer would slice it in a day (!), send an email to them and they replied that S3D sliced it in seconds. I was sold immediately.

Really, read some reviews. Watch some youtube…