MakerBot Replicator 2

If you read the about page you will know that I’m a tinkerer and an engineer.  Like most engineers I took apart my grandfather’s radio when I was little and (with a little help) was able to put it back together with relative ease.

When I was going to engineering school out lab had a SLA machine that was valued somewhere around a quarter of a million dollars (yes, $250,000).  This thing was amazing.  It would make parts that were so precise and accurate that it make most fabrication shops look like there were being run by a bunch of untrained monkeys.

There were two big problems:

1.  The cost of the machine at $250,000 is a little outside of my snack bracket to get one for my house

2.  The cost to build a part was over $1,000 once you took into account the material, maintenance and “laser time”

These two reasons are why I haven’t started my own rapid prototyping shop out of my basement and, instead, have relied on a friend who does have a pretty sweet 3D printer to build the odd part that I want to test a design for.

Of course I’m talking about one of the first print at home 3D printers that was within the snack bracket of most aspiring engineers and tinkerers of the world.  The MakerBot 2.

The MakerBot Replicator 2 is a 3D printer that allows you to use PLA filament to build plastic parts layer by layer at home.  It’s quick enough to build yourself a custom made case for your iPhone or Android smart phone in under 2o minutes.

Need a few extra shot glasses for your party… give the bot half an hour and you’ll be sipping the finest or Vitamin-T (tequila) from your very own custom shot glasses.

The build platform, which controls the maximum size of your part is 6.1 by 11.2 by 6 inches.  If you want to build a part that is bigger than this you will need to scale it down and build a scale model to represent your final product.

3D Printer Build Area

For most part, especially when you use the scale-it-down approach, this build platform is plenty big.  Making your parts smaller help to keep the build times shorter and the cost to run your machine and the cost of materials at a minimum.

The overall footprint of the MakerBot 2 is just under 20 by 15 by 17 inches which is really nice since you don’t need to dedicate an entire room of your house to house this machine like you would if you were using the professional level SLA machine that we have at work or the one we had in the lab during college.  It’s only about 25 pounds as well which is perfect for doing bicep curls… wait, you wouldn’t want to do that since the machine is way more expensive then a cheap pair of dumbbells.

The MakerBot 2 is like the good old Ford Model T.  You can have it in any color so long as that color is black.  It does look mean and all business which it would not if it was lime green or pink.  So, don’t worry about the limited availability of color.

The device is ready to go once you get it.  You will just have to power it up with the supplied cord, plug in the USB cable and run the software that comes with it to build your first part at home.  They were nice enough to include a roll of filament as well in the starter kit which means you don’t need to worry about ordering more just to print your first part.

If USB isn’t your thing, does anyone have a problem with USBs?  Not sure… hmmm… you can use the SD card port that is integrated right into the device.  This does help for when you want to share parts with friends or when you’re going to a building party where you can show off your latest designs to potential suitors.

My friend has build quite a few parts on his MakerBot 2 and, come to think of it, we haven’t seen much of him since getting the 3D printer.  Since he doesn’t have a girlfriend I have to assume that his 3D printer is filling the hole in his heart with a printed at home heart hole plugger (do not try to actually fill a hole in your heart with PLA filament, go see a cardiologist or emergency room right away).

If you too are a dabbler and inventor I recommend you check out the MakerBot Industries as they have a pretty sick 3D printer that is under $2500.

Here are some example parts that were printed with the BakerBot:

MakerBot-Part-1

MakerBot-Part-2

MakerBot-Part-3

MakerBot-Part-4

MakerBot-Part-5

Photo Credit: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

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