We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
Time for another upgrade to our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, this time we have decided to replace the extruder nozzle. This upgrade we did more out of curiosity than because we actually needed to – no jammed nozzle or problems with the original one aside from the fact that it did not look that good anymore. As you can see on the photo above the original nozzle on the left does not look so good anymore due to the stuck PLA filament on it that we have removed, but some stains were left. The extruder nozzle on the right is the Low Friction MK8 Extruder Nozzles from Performance 3-d.
The extruder nozzle upgrade we are installing is also made from brass base material like the original MakerBot one and has the same parameters. The difference however is the special coating applied that makes all of the difference when printing as it can help in preventing a lot of problems while extruding material due to the fact that the filament does not stick so easy to the nozzle. Other than keeping a cleaner look and fewer problems with printing and filament sticking to the nozzle we are not seeing difference in the quality of the prints, not that we actually expected to see some anyway. It is all about having less problems like filament jams, or when using abrasive filaments like carbon fiber wearing off the nozzle and the Low Friction MK8 Extruder Nozzles from Performance 3-d seem to do very well in these areas.
What we want to share with you is that the replacement of the extruder nozzle is something that is not very easy to do as it requires disassembling most of the extruder in order to be able to safely remove the old nozzle and replace it with the new one without the risk of damaging something. We would recommend to only replace the extruder nozzle only if you have no other choice and not just out of curiosity or if you want to test something out. With that said however it will be a wise idea to have a spare extruder nozzle available ahead of the time when you might need to replace the stock one.
One of the best things about 3D printers is that once you get one, you are able to start printing modifications and upgrades for your own device using the printer itself. Regardless of how good or expensive the 3D printer is there are usually some things that you can further improve or just make your life easier by printing some additional parts that might extend the device’s functionality. You don’t need to even design the parts yourself as many of them are already available for direct printing, at least for the Makerbot Replicator 2 printer (including many compatible models) that we use.
In fact we have already printed some upgrades for our Replicator 2 3D printer that we are using and are very happy with, apart from the upgrades that cannot be directly printed, but need to be bough separately or to be made using different hardware. Upgrades like a holder for the filament guide tube, or a better spool holder for non-standard spools with filament can save you from unsuccessful prints. Other upgrades such as upgrading the extruder filament feed mechanism or adding build plate holders can result in better quality prints. There are other upgrades that you can also find useful such as SD card or tool holders, camera holders for recoding the build process and so on and so on. Not to mention that you can also print upgrades that are purely for visual tuning and upgrades that can also be fun as they will allow you to personalize the 3D printer.
Our 3D printer, the MakerBot Replicator 2 as well as many other models do come with a plexiglass (acrylic) build plate and while you might have no serious trouble printing smaller 3D models on it, you may experience some issues when you start using more of the available build volume. The problem with the plexiglass build plate is that it is not that even as it may appear and every millimeter and even a part of the millimeter may be important when 3D printing something. In our case the Replicator 2 did have about 1 millimeter difference between the printing nozzle and the print bed at the edges as compared to the gap near the center of the build plate. This is easy to notice when you level the build plate using the three closer to the center points and then the print nozzle moves at the left and right edge of the build plate.
What we did was to look around for an option for a glass build plate for the MakerBot 2, there are quite a few options available. Even Makerbot offers a glass build plate upgrade for the Replicator 2, however it comes at a pretty high price of $250 USD. So we have opted out to go for an alternative solution that should provide the same results at a much affordable price. After checking a few alternatives we have selected to use the Performance 3D GLASS BUILD PLATE for Makerbot Replicator 2. This upgrade is available for just $50 USD without shipping and does provide much better results. We’ve received it and have already installed the new glass plate and the results are really great – the new plate is really even across the whole surface when leveling it. So we can definitely recommend this glass build plate as a great and much more affordable alternative to the original glass upgrade from Makerbot. We have ordered some other of the Replicator 2 upgrades offered by Performance 3D, so we are going to be installing them as well and trying them out very soon as well.