Optimizing the Filament Spool and Guide on MakerBot Replicator 2

2 Apr


If you remember a while ago we’ve had a weird issue with the filament guide tube on our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer. Since then we’ve replaced the teflon filament guide tube with a new one and the device was working normally again, but we also started experimenting with different ideas about optimizing the spool holder position in order to eliminate completely the guide tube as a means to avoid possible issue in the future. The general idea was to develop an overhead spool holder that would attach to the top of the 3D printer and sit on one of the sides of the 3D printer. While working on this idea designing a simple and effective solution we’ve come to another interesting and much easier solution that tends to work surprisingly well in out experience and we’ve decided to share our findings with you to help you get less issues if you are using a Replicator 2. It requires you to reposition the filament spool holder and to print two small parts that will be used to guide the filament to the extruder. All in all you can do this simple modification is no time at all.


First you need to remove the filament spool holder from the standard position at the back of the printer. You need to attach it to the back plastic panel of the 3D printer, surprisingly it was a perfect fit and the result is really good as it brings the filament spool at a perfect height that would allow you to avoid using a filament guide tube. Furthermore you can use two spool holders, one on each side of the back of the printer making it easier to switch the filament as well as making it compatible with the Replicator 2X if you are not using the top cover. This does not require any modification to the printer itself whatsoever and works really well for the moment based on our own experience using the modification.


Next you need to print two of these filament guide adapters that we’ve posted on Thingiverse and attach them to the cables that go to the extruder of the printer. They are with a clip on design, so they are easy to attache and not so easy to detach from the sleeved cables and then you just need to pass the filament through the two holes of the printed guides and insert it in the extruder. As we’ve said already it is really easy and works very well. After we’ve done this modification/upgrade to our MakerBot Replicator 2 we’ve seen a decrease of the problems with failed prints associated to filament jams when compared to the standard design with the spool down at the back and using the PTFE guide tube for the filament.

If you do try this please report how it works for you and if you are seeing any difference on your end. This modification is originally designed for MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers, but it will most likely work on other models that are similar in design to the Replicator 2.

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3 Responses to Optimizing the Filament Spool and Guide on MakerBot Replicator 2

Matt Liboiron

July 3rd, 2015 at 00:09

Just wanted to say thank you for this, you solved my problem on getting print issues. and I don’t have to wait 8+ weeks to get my replacement tube from makerbot.(out in the wild north of canada)

Stephen Chininis

August 5th, 2015 at 22:06

I’ve been using your hack for about a month now – and it really works well! I have had no issues at all. I initially tried it because I happened to order some cheaper PLA for my Replicator2, and it came with a smaller hole for the spindle. So I found a file for a spindle that works for it, but then I didn’t have an extra filament tube – so I kept having to change it. I happened across your fix – and now I can switch from one filament to the other much quicker. Thanks again! Oh, and the only change I made was to use 3 guides instead of 2, – I wanted one lower near the head so that it kept it a little more centered.


August 13th, 2016 at 02:45

We set our reels high above the machine so that it feeds veritcally as much as possible. Thjis does not stop the jamming. The problem we are findding is in the metal tube feeding into the extrusion tip.

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