MakerBot Replicator 2X update

It’s been some time since we started using the MakerBot Replicator 2X, so I figured a brief update was due.

Initially we experienced a fair share of issues, most of them related to the build platform as the models did not remain stuck to the surface during the build. Since then we have experimented a great deal, resulting in changes to the build platform, preferred material, and extruder head.

The main change was to stop using polyimide film altogether on the build platform: it was too fragile, did not provide a perfectly even surface, did not keep the product in place, and had to be replaced frequently. Instead, we mounted a thin glass plate on top of the aluminium build platform, as this provides a perfectly even surface that is easy to clean. In addition, prior to each build we smear a mix of acetone and ABS on the build platform. This mix will create a thin layer of ABS on the surface, ensuring the model will adhere to the surface during the build.

Given how unreliable PLA has been as choice of material (the temperature was too fickle, and the material always ended up blocking the extruder), we have abandoned PLA altogether. We are exclusively using ABS now as build material, significantly increasing the odds of running an uninterrupted build.

Lastly, we have adapted the extruder head assembly by printing a modified version, as available on Thingiverse. The modified version ensures a more reliable throughput of filament, as verified by lead users. It manages to do so by pressing the filament against the drive gear with a constant force, using a spring-loaded system.

The latter development I find infinitely interesting, and is something that excites me most about 3D printing entering the consumer market: you will not only receive software updates anymore, you will also be able to receive hardware updates. The implications of this change are tremendous and will enable true decentralisation and modularity of product development.


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