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Makerbot announces Replicator 2 "prosumer" 3D printer

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September 20, 2012

Makerbot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer

Makerbot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer

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Makerbot's fourth generation desktop 3D printer was launched yesterday, and it's very impressive indeed. The Makerbot Replicator 2 continues to raise the bar for at-home 3D printing with increased build volume, new software and significantly finer layer resolution than the company's previous offering.

It seems like yesterday the idea of owning an affordable yet competent desktop 3D printer was unimaginable. How quickly things have changed – both in terms of quality and price.

The Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer will cost US$2,199 when it becomes available in four to six weeks. You'll need to toss in an additional $50 to buy either ABS or PLA plastic in 1kg spools.

So what's different about the Replicator 2? To begin with, it's capable of a much finer layer resolution of 100 microns (about as thin as a sheet of paper), nearly three times smaller than the previous version. That means the unslighty ridges of earlier printers are less visible and less rough to handle. I do some 3D modeling in my spare time, and this is the first time an at-home 3D printer is capable of a resolution I think will work for many of my models.

Granted, if the model is incredibly detailed and you want it to be absolutely pristine (with no visible build lines) then the reality is you'll still have to use a 3D printing service bureau. The Objet Eden series of printers - among the most advanced on the market - print with a resolution of just 16 microns. That's the kind of detail you want if you're printing a fine art piece sculpted in Zbrush or Mudbox. 3D printing at that level is still very expensive – depending on the size of your model, a service bureau could end up charging you more than the price of the Replicator 2. It's a huge investment in a single piece.

Another improvement is the Replicator 2's build volume, which is 11.2” (length) x 6.0” (width) x 6.1” (height). That's actually quite big, so unless you're printing something huge you won't have to cut it up into smaller pieces that would need to be assembled later. And if you are printing something big, you'll divide it into fewer pieces than many of Makerbot's competitors.

New MakerWare software is being introduced with the Replicator 2

One of the major announcements is the introduction of the new MakerWare software. MakerWare has a simple GUI and allows you to load multiple STL or OBJ files at once. Just about every 3D modeling software allows you to export to OBJ, but until now the somewhat annoying STL format was the default for most printers, so that's a very nice feature. Once your model is loaded, you can rearrange its position and scale it to whatever size you want either alone or in a group. Once you're ready to print the company's proprietary slicer, Miracle Grue, prepares the models for printing 20x faster than Skeinforge with optimized tool paths for more consistent prints.

3D printers are obviously intended for people who create digital models, and Makerbot has grown a community (called Thingiverse) where of builders can upload and share their creations. Currently the site is home to more than 28,000 projects that can be downloaded for free and printed. And if you want to print in two colors or materials, the first shipments of the Replicator 2X ($2,799) are expected early next year.

Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis runs us through how the Replicator 2 works in the following videos.

Source: Makerbot

About the Author
Jason Falconer Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers.   All articles by Jason Falconer
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10 Comments

Bre Pettis looks like the love child of Steve Allen and Elvis Costello... great looking machine, tho! Would love to talk the boss into snaggin this one!

MzunguMkubwa
20th September, 2012 @ 05:13 am PDT

A very welcome improvement. Looks like they have updated their model in order to get on par with the Ultimaker, which is still open source.

The Replicator's ability to print simultaneously in two materias is unique. And I think that is it's biggest strenght.

cachurro
20th September, 2012 @ 07:23 am PDT

To say that the RepRap community is in an uproar about the release of the Replicator 2 is an understatement, but probably not in a good way. I would like to point out that with this product release Makerbot is rumored to have gone from an open source hardware model to a closed source model. It widely understood that Makerbot have built this device on the backs of the OpenSource community so by closing the source for it the community leadership and interested parties such as myself are in a bit of a shock about it. Certainly there are some nice software improvements which Makerbot have developed, and the box looks very pretty, but the underlying technology is what has been built and improved upon mostly in open source mode. Having recently laid-off or fired most of the original development group, Makerbot have also recently changed their terms of use laying claim to all intellectual property uploaded to the Thingiverse. (http://www.thingiverse.com/legal). As to what ramifications this has to all of the I.P. and development work performed by a vast Open Source community, this is yet to be seen.

For more information please read the following post by Josef Prusa - http://josefprusa.cz/open-hardware-meaning/ and here, before it is taken down... http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:30808

Steve Graber
20th September, 2012 @ 11:31 am PDT

Let me start me start by declaring that I am one of those unlucky souls who bought a Replicator. These people have proven to all the open source community that they are nothing more than opportunists with no regard for spirit of endeavour which powered the developments that they are openly exploiting. This group just keep plumbing new depths.

Nothing they have on offer was born out of their own minds. By closing the source they are simply ensuring that no one can see what else they plagiarising. This marks the End of Thingiverse and Makerbot for me.

Soltron
20th September, 2012 @ 02:56 pm PDT

Wow, way to get your customer base off side!

Wombat56
20th September, 2012 @ 11:37 pm PDT

I was getting close to purchasing a Makerbot but now I will not. Its clear that Makerbot are turning their backs on the community that has propelled them to where they are and I can't decide whether its greed, nieveity or stupidity but one thing is clear- they have screwed up in implementing & communicating it!

Brendan Dunphy
21st September, 2012 @ 03:36 am PDT

I’ve been watching the 3d printer movement for a few years but haven’t quite been ready to jump in. This new machine is the one that is going to finally drag me in. To those of you in the RepRap community, I can understand how you feel a little bitter but I think you’re looking at it from the wrong perspective. Most major product categories start out just like the RepRap; The automobile, the motorcycle, computers, the web, software, etc. For a product to go from a few hobbyists to mass appeal, it needs to be institutionalized. Dedicated, full-time professionals need to design, advance, produce, market, sell and support the product. Luckily it’s Makerbot that has stepped up to take on that role. I really thought HP would just step in and take it over as soon it hit this point in its cycle. Rather than regret what’s happening, embrace it. You are the early pioneers and join the ranks of Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak, Linus Torvalds, etc. Congrats on your accomplishments. Embrace the next new chapter for your creation.

Scott Crossen
21st September, 2012 @ 10:20 am PDT

A very goodbye to you makerbot and thingverse I hope you fail and that the Open Source community thrives! I am part of the Open Source Software community and over the years there have been tremendous advances, doing it this way.

Pete_Morrison
21st September, 2012 @ 05:31 pm PDT

Complaints & hate for MakerBot:

============================

Why would any company NOT try to make a profitable product, based on open source technology, if their product surpassed the hobby, garage-built variety by a few leaps and bounds? (In the software world there are lots of examples....Debian, Red Hat, SUSE are all available free and with a for-profit support base as well. There are few complaints about these vendors who make Linux business-ready. If someone did complain about for-sale Linux implementations what would that sound like? "whahhh, somebody is selling free software for money, and providing support and solving the problems of the implementation in an efficient and reliable way....whah!!!"?? ).

If MakerBot's product is good enough to get people to spend $2000 plus, then more power to them. They aren't stopping anyone from building more Prusa-Mendel blob-a-trons.

What bugs me is people who put up pictures of something that looks like it was hacked out of a log, and coated with plastic burlap, while raving about the "quality" of their 3D print from their blob-a-tron.

If MakerBot can produce refinements that make REAListic, reasonable-quality 3D prints possible, out of the box, they have earned the right to make the profit on those trade secrets.

Open Source, so far, means hit-and-miss-source: I've been looking for parts for weeks now, and cannot find a decent, reliable vendor I want to trust to send me *quality* parts instead of craft-made, garage-quality stuff.

So, if MakerBot can make this thing an off-the-shelf item, ready to be used by people who want to make THINGS rather than fiddle with their toy gadget plastic melter, (throwing away failed attempts 7 out of 10 times) it's time they went into business doing it.

If the Open Source community can surpass MakerBot's improvements they should stop complaining and get on it!

Intellectual Property vs Thingiverse:

=================================

As I understand it MakerBot's policy doesn't say they own stuff put up on their website. It says they can use it as they see fit - which is only a blank statement of the obvious: anyone who downloads from the site is bound to 'use it as they see fit'. That's just BLINDINGLY obvious.

Lord knows there are way more than enough flippin' 3D Anime characters, SciFi models and amorphous blobs (ie. "this is the first thing I 'designed' in 3D, but maybe it would make a nice paperweight"). Who cares if they use these as they see fit?? As for the valid designs out there, of COURSE they will use them as they see fit....that's why someone put them out there in the first place.

TechGnostic
5th November, 2012 @ 06:49 am PST

As a newbie to 3-d printing and not willing to throw too many bux out the window, can someone advise me as to which printer is easiest to use and does the best job? I tinker in inventions of all types and have been forced to go to Home Depot and Lowes for my parts.

Jerry Becker
20th February, 2013 @ 11:13 am PST
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