We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
Time for yet another upgrade for our faithful MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, this time we are going to be upgrading the plastic filament drive mechanism of the extruder with a better all metal version from Fabberworld. The filament drive upgrade comes as a full kit containing all precisely CNC machined parts from aluminum that will replace the plastic parts, along with stainless steel screws, replacement bearing, spring and even a pulley gear for the motor. The kit is designed for Replicator 2 3D printers that have a total thickness of the plastic parts of 20mm as there are models of the printer with slimmer 15mm parts, but we have figured out an easy way to install it even on these. We are going to get back to that in a moment however. There is also a version of the upgrade available for MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D printer where you essentially get two kits – a left and right one for each of the motors of the dual extruder 3D printer.
Probably some of you will ask why we would want to upgrade the standard plastic parts with aluminum ones, the answer is simple – plastic wears off easily, it breaks and it does not handle that well a lot of heat. The standard plastic parts are from injection molded ABS plastic that is pretty durable and resistant to high temperature, but over time it can start to wear off from abrasive filaments and to deform or even break from the constant high temperatures around it. Back on the metal upgrade kit, it not only replaces the plastic parts, but also comes with some improvements that help you get more consistent and problem free prints and these actually do seem to work well. On the top “lever” where the filament goes in there is a wider opening to allow the PTFE tube to slide in and make the filament slide in easily when you load it into the extruder, though if you are not using the Teflon filament guide tube this can actually make it a bit harder to load filament. The included MK7 pulley that replaces the standard one has a smaller gap where the filament goes through that is more suitable for the 1.75mm filament that the MakerBot Replicator 2 uses. The standard pulley that our printer came up with seems to be more suitable for 3mm filaments than the 1.75mm one that we are actually using, so after the upgrade you should also get more contact surface and force pulling the filament through the nozzle and thus in theory less problems with filament jams.
Now, how to install the filament drive upgrade for the extruder of MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers that come with 15mm thickness of the plastic parts. We have figured out a way to do everything as easy as with 20mm models, all you would need are two 5mm spacers to bring the motor back the needed extra space. The only thing that you would need to remove is the fan grill in front of the cooling fan of the extruder and then the two screws holding everything in place will be long enough to accommodate the 5mm spacers (you can use two 2.5mm ones or a different combination if you do not have a single 5mm ones). The cooling fan blades are small and if you do everything with a bit of extra caution around the extruder while the printer is operating you should not have trouble even with the fan grill missing. Alternatively you can look for screws with extra 5mm length and keep the full build with the fan grill, but finding only two 5mm spacers should be easier and you can probably build them with existing smaller spacers that you may have lying around.
For the price that the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer sells one would expect to get a 3D printer that is well built and very durable with no problems while printing, but our experience has shown that after you get the device you still need to do some upgrading and tuning as you go. One of the good upgrades that you might want to do in order to have less problems on the long term with issues working with the 3D printer is the filament drive upgrade of the extruder, though it is not the only one. Do note however that some of the upgrades, including this one are not as easy to be performed by people that are new to 3D printing and are not familiar with their 3D printers as it requires to disassemble the extruder and then assemble it again with the new parts installed.
The Removable Heated Build Plate Upgrade for MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers from BC Technological Solutions is a must have upgrade for anyone with a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer looking to add HBP capabilities for example to print with ABS or other filaments requiring it. The upgrade kit from BC Technological Solutions may not be the cheapest solution out there to provide you with a Heated Build Platform, but is probably the best in terms of ease of installation and ease of usage. The BC Tech upgrade kit will cost you $175 USD without the shipping and you would need to also get a more powerful power supply capable of at least 9.2A @ 24V if you are using Replicator 2 (another $100 USD or so). The upgrade kit is also compatible with Replicator 2X, but there you already have HBP by default though not as good as this one, as well as with Replicator 1 3D printers and some clones of these devices such as Flash Forge Creator, though make sure you order the specific version you need.
The standard power adapter of the Replicator 2 is a 24 Volt 6.25A and this is not enough to handle the additional power requirements of the Heated Build Platform. So we have purchased a compatible 24V 9.2A power adapter from Mean Well (GS220A24-R7B) that can be plugged in directly in the printer without the need to modify the adapter connector. If you get a more generic 24V power adapter with a different connector you may need to replace the connector, BC Tech sell a power supply connector for $6 USD that you can use to make generic power supplies compatible with the Replicator 2. So make sure you get a power supply that meet the requirements and preferably has the right power connector already to save some trouble like we did with the Mean Well PSU that is ready to be plugged in and works just fine.
We have mentioned that the installation procedure is very simple, you remove the standard build plate of the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer and attache the new aluminum HBP plate with a heating element on bottom. You route the cables trough a hole on the bottom of the printer case (you need to remove a plastic cap first) and can directly connect the heating element and the thermal sensor to the main board of the 3D printer – the have dedicated connectors available, so no soldering or anything like that is needed. All in all you can have the new HBP installed in less than 30 minutes when you have everything needed available and be ready to start using it, unlike for example the much harder and more time consuming installation of the Aluminum Arm Upgrade from BC Technological Solutions that we have also recently installed.
Now, after you install the new HBP upgrade you can notice how convenient the removable glass plate can be after you print something in order to easily remove it from the build plate. The glass build plate is attached to the aluminum base with magnets, so it is being attached with enough strength, but is still easy to be removed when needed. Thanks to the removable glass build plate we have seen a significant reduction in the number of times we need to readjust the build plate height between prints compared to using the standard 3D printer build plate. Again we are going to say that in our opinion the Removable Heated Build Plate Upgrade for MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers from BC Technological Solutions is a must have upgrade for anyone with a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer. That is if you want to get an easy to install solution and one that works great and problem free and actually makes your life easier working with the printer even when hot using the heating feature of the build plate.
Do note that after installing a HBP to your Replicator 2 3D printer you will need to tell your slicer software that you have this capability in order to be able to use it, so we have guides available on how to enable this in the software:
– How to Use Heated Build Plate on Replicator 2 with MakerBot Desktop
– How to Use MakerBot Replicator 2 with Heated Build Platform in Simplify3D
Simplify3D has just announced a new major release version 3.0 of their universal 3D printing software bringing a lot of new features and improvements, including support for many new devices. We have been using the Simplify3D (commercial 3D printer slicer) for quite a while along with our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer for quite some time already and it has always been a good alternative to the standard MarkerBot Desktop software. The Simplify3D software offers more flexibility and features, allowing the more advanced users to have much more control over the printing process than standard stock slicers usually allow. So always a good to have if you are having trouble printing a model using your stock slicer software that came with the 3D printer you are using. Not to mention that due to the very large number of supported devices you can change your 3D printer in time and most likely still have it compatible with the Simplify3D software.
The new features in Simplify3D 3.0 include:
– Dual Extrusion Wizard: The new Dual Extrusion Wizard simplifies the steps involved in configuring a dual extrusion print. With only a few clicks, users can create a beautiful two-color part. Depending on the type of model, users can choose from a variety of “ooze shield” shapes, which will surround their part during construction and provide crisp, sharp definition between colors.
– Infill options galore: Simplify3D now boasts six infill pattern options, including the popular honeycomb and triangle infill patterns. The new variety of patterns allows users to configure the interior of their part exactly how they want it, whether the goal is to achieve high strength requirements or for stunning aesthetic results.
– The fastest slicer gets 3x faster: Simplify3D has always been known as the fastest slicer available. New state-of-the-art algorithms in Version 3.0 result in slicing speeds more than three times faster than the previous version. This enables an impressive time savings compared to other 3D printing software. Faster slicing helps with complex models and multi-part jobs, but it also allows for faster iteration. Combined with our realistic animated Preview Mode, this allows our users to make small settings changes and instantly see how they will affect the final print.
– User-friendly interface updates: The interface has been revamped so that frequently used tools are more intuitive and easier to use. Model manipulation is easier than ever before, and new grouping options make it incredibly simple to work with multiple parts. An “undo” button saves time and frustration while new keyboard shortcuts improve navigation. The Preview Mode has also been enhanced with multiple coloring options so users can visualize their build sequences by speed, active toolhead or feature type.
– New settings boost quality: Simplify3D 3.0 provides dozens of other new features to improve print quality, such as Avoid Crossing Outlines, which alters the movement of the toolhead to reduce excess oozing, and Non-Stationary Retractions, which helps reduce defects (a.k.a. “blobs” or “zits”) on the outer surface of the print. These fine-tuning controls improve even the most challenging prints, and make the difference between a good print and an excellent print.
– Smarter printer profile system: Anyone who has modified their print settings to get the best results knows the importance of saving successful settings. Simplify3D 3.0 provides a brand new printer profile system that simplifies the process of adding and saving profiles. For owners of multiple 3D printers, this streamlined profile system greatly simplifies the workflow. In addition, to make sure the profiles are always up-to-date, the desktop software communicates with a new cloud-based storage system to receive instant updates for the hundreds of pre-configured printer profiles that are available within Simplify3D.
– Support for 25 new printers: Simplify3D is committed to universal compatibility, and previously supported more than 100 printers worldwide. In the latest release, they have added 25 new pre-configured printer profiles: Bonsai Lab BS01, bq Prusa i3 Hephestos, bq Witbox, DeltaMaker 3D Printer, FusionTech ideaPrinter F100, gCreate gMax 1.5 XT, German RepRap PRotos V3, German RepRap X350, LulzBot Mini, LulzBot TAZ 5, Malyan M180, Mankati Fullscale XT, MendelMax 3.0, Printrbot Plus Single, Printrbot Plus Dual, Rostock MAX v2, Sharebot Kiwi-3D, Sharebot NG Dual, Sharebot XXL, Solidoodle Press, Solidoodle 4, Solidoodle Workbench, Tumaker Voladora, Ultimaker 2 Go, and Ultimaker 2 Extended.