Makerbot 3d Printers

The studio has two Makerbot Replicator 2 (5th Generation) 3d printers.   The build volume is 9.9″L x 7.8″W x 5.9″H.  These are equipped with the Smart Extruder +….so these printers actually work.  These printers work best for making solid parts – do not expect to just print your building.  They are best used when thinking through component parts, or more simple massing models.  I encourage you to use these frequently!  Morphosis, for example, has a habit of focusing the day on developing design models, letting them print overnight, and then using the models in the morning to evaluate them and then start on the next version.  A model a day keeps the teacher at bay!

These printers use proprietary filament, so if you need to purchase filament, you just do so directly from Makerbot here.  These printers work with PLA filament only.

For now, this page is a quick guide to getting started.  You will export your file from Rhino as an STL file, making sure that you export your model at the scale you want it printed at.  To make the print file, you need to use the Makerbot Print software, which is freeware available here.  In the lower right you will see the Add a Printer option.  Open this and select “Add an Unconnected Printer.”  Select the “Replicator 5th Gen” option.

Under File, note System Preferences default units are millimeters.  You may wish to work in inches.

Then, insert your STL from the File menu, Insert File.  It may take a little bit of back and forth until you get the scale settings right.

In Makerbot Print software, choose the Print Settings:

  • Extruder Type is Smart Extruder+
  • Shells is the number of layers of the outer most surface. 2 is standard, more shells means a thicker more durable part, but slower print speed (and more material).
  • Layer height is level of detail  – I would leave at .2, but you can experiment with .1 for higher detail for curved surfaces, or thicker layers for much quicker prints.
  • Infill density affects print speed and durability.
  • Raft: this creates a break away base that helps the part stick to the table.  As you gain experience, you will know when you need to use this and not.  If you begin your print and the filament is not sticking to the table, you need a raft.
  • Support: best to avoid this if possible.  This for pieces with overhangs and the like.

Ready to print?  Select Export and save as a .makerbot file.  Save this file to a USB, and run this file from the USB on the printer.

PLEASE leave comments below this page on what settings are working well for you as well as any trouble you are having so the studio can benefit from your experience.

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