Introducing The Makerbot Replicator 2

A few short hours ago at press conference, Makerbot announced the release of their Replicator 2 3D printer.

The original Makerbot Replicator was released earlier this year at CES and regaled by the press as a quantum leap in home manufacturing (a quanta is actually very small, guys) with and option for dual extruders and a rather large build volume. The Replicator 2 takes the same formula and adds a powder coated steel frame, larger build volume (11.2″ x 6.0″ x 6.1″ or 28.5 x 15.3 x 15.5 cm) and a resolution so fine as to approach the realm of uber expensive 3D printers (100 microns or 0.004 inches).

Base price is $2200 USD for the single extruder model with no Makercare service plan. A dual-extruder Replicator 2X is slated to be released after the beginning of next year. This model will also handle ABS filament, although we can’t find anything that says the single-extruder Replicator 2 is only able to use PLA.

Even though the new Replicator 2 is rumored to be closed source, we’d really struggle to come up with a better 3D printer for a high school shop class, college CS and/or engineering department, or even a hackerspace.

78 thoughts on “Introducing The Makerbot Replicator 2

  1. Countdown until Solidmodels are uploaded to “thingiverse” starting… NOW

    Closed source? Really guys? Open Hardware is just an admission of how easy it is to reverse engineer a product and attempt to garner good will out of a lost cause. I guess they gave up on the good will(where 95% of there customer base came from).

    Their laser-cut design still makes the cost prohibitively expensive for someone who doesn’t have access to a maker-space.

    Open source was the only thing the makerbot ever had going for it. It’s sort of disgusting to think how much money they made off it.

    1. Did they not build their entire business on the backs of open hardware and software?

      I hope this really is just a rumor. Otherwise, that’s just disgusting. I’m sure when I look at the guts of this thing it’ll be 95% reprap, anyways.

      1. They’re already pretty closed for an “open source” company. Sure they uploaded content to Thingiverse, but STLs and DXFs are not source, they’re generated from CAD files which are still secret. Build instructions are secret. CAD specs on their custom parts such as in the extruder are secret. Suppliers are secret.

        The trend has been going closed. Look at the mix tape product they released over the summer. Closed source electronics in a “open source” (same problems as above) casing.

      2. basically thats what he did follow bri pettis’s videos he started out dicking about with extruders to make the rep rap and got a entire comunity behind them then they worked on making the makerbot 1 from comunity colaboration then after the replicator 1 they closed everything down used the money from the previous comunity aided projects and ramped the prices up effectivley cutting out all but the more well off makers from even dreaming of owning a replicator 2 marketing mostly to hackerspaces and corprate buisness basically it was a giant fuck you to everyone who helped out

    1. More importantly, “quantum leap” refers to a sudden jump without passing through any of the intermediate values. As in a photon tunneling through an energy barrier. So the association is primarily with the sudden and discontinuous nature of the jump, not with its size.

      1. It’s intelligent, insightful comments like yours that are dragging this website down, not the nonsensical writeups associating the post!

        Also, “Quantum Leap” was a TV show I’ve never seen, but if Bakula played as well as he did in Enterprise I hope I never do.


        Mod editing this to say Enterprise was awesome. The entire 3rd season was an allegory for the run up to the Iraq war.

    1. I really think the Ultimaker is still a better product, it is enjoyable to assemble, frustrating and a learning experience.

      Ultimaker is fast and fine resolution and they’ve committed to developing the product rather than releasing whole new designs every 6 months.

    2. A better buy IMHO. As it will print faster and at a higher resolution. It was better then the Replicator before the Replicator (first one) was even released. Makerbot gets too much credit, their software is not that good, they don’t play with other OpenSource projects but just say “we’ll make our own firmware/host/slicer”.

      The people behind Ultimaker (I know them) want to make a good, personal, high quality, 3D printer for a decent price.

      Now, Ultimaker has their own share of OpenSource “issues” where they promised full open source at the start. But some parts they did not release all the details for. (You can still self-source all the parts, and the lasercut design is on thingiverse, but it will take quite a bit of effort)

    3. Don’t be angry! You made a very good decision in going with the Ultimaker (I own one myself) and I don’t regret it one bit even after these machines came around (replicator 1 and 2). Just an fyi, I’ve been printing at higher resolutions than 100microns for a long time with my machine.

      There are a few wonky things about it, all of these types of printers have issues, but the community will help you if you should encounter any problems. Don’t worry.

      (oh and if they still haven’t updated their wikis for the software, avoid RegG like the plague, it’s not worth it. daid has created a very competent piece of software (cura) that will have you up and running in minutes, literally. Then after you’re up and running you can keep using cura or experiment with the other slicers out there.)

  2. Aaand… of course the price went up by another $450, an increase of more than 25% over the single-head Replicator 1.

    By this point, price is by far the biggest reason for why I probably won’t go back to Makerbot. Considering that you can buy some 3D printers for about a quarter of that price, fully assembled.

    I love the Makerbot guys, and they make excellent 3D printers. But I have to wonder if they’re not going to get stuck in a valley of death between DIY and “commercial” 3D printers.

    1. Yeah was wondering about that valley of death myself. They seem to be carving a niche for themselves well below industrial and well above the average hobbyist.

      I wish them the best of luck in the limited semiprofessional market.

      1. Just FYI.

        My Ultimaker, I don’t remember when I calibrated it. But it was a long time ago. Last weekend I was printing both Saturday and Sunday, at different locations. I could just set the printer down and started printing. Even after a bumpy car ride I did not have to calibrate anything.

    2. Agreed. Base price at $2200? No freaggin’ way. Pricing like that just made the MakerBot quantum leap it’s way from my “I’ll see how good it ends up being, then perhaps buy it”-category to my “Holy shit that is way more money that I’ll ever pay for a toy or a tool, no matter how cool!”-category.

      I get that it’s a cool piece of equipment and that it’s faaaar cheaper than the “pro” printers out there, but when the price is well above what I’d pay for anything (sans a car or a house, obviously), buying simply isn’t an option.

      1. there’s a much bigger story here than just deciding to be open source or not. a business in a category that is expanding as quickly as this might have a really hard time sticking to open source if they want to keep an edge. I don’t really have an opinion either way, but it sure is interesting to watch it all unfold.

  3. I believe the author should retract the closed source comment until there is an official release by Makerbot industries. It is interesting how rumors can spread. Even if the source is Josef.

    It is officially heresay…

  4. Seriously guys? “a quanta is actually very small”??? Who in the world wrote this? And more importantly, doesn’t HAD has (whoops! *have) an editor?

    Quantum is the singular. Quanta is plural. As in “The quanta *are* actually very small.” Also I’d like to point out that you don’t need to give the size of quanta as an unrelated clarification. In this case Quantum leap is used to mean “A sudden change” (as in particles tunneling through energy barriers) rather than gradual.

  5. As an owner of the Replicator(1) I agree that closing the “source” of the software is not so friendly. This might push people to use open source software and hardware from another printer company and MakerBot may have entered Netflix “oops” territory. I think MakerBot will do all the right moves in end. Still having fun with my Replicator! Can’t believe I can print 3D objects!

    YouTube Channel:

    1. Then switch companies for your next printer. Ultimaker is a lot smaller, and they are a bit semi-open source on the hardware. (as a few parts are missing some details)

      But they are very much geared towards open source software. They pretty much paid for the LCD support in the Marlin firmware for example.

  6. Irony:
    Opening your press conference with “I saw these awesome machines I couldn’t afford to touch”
    Closing your press conference with “Oh I forgot to mention the price 2000 and 3000 $ . ”

    It is a crying shame when the trail blazers who took the reprap Ideology and made it a bit better neglect to mention them in their press conference , while becoming the super expensive black box they set out to replace. Both literally and figuratively.

    It does look sexy, as it should for that price.

  7. I think Makerbot got scared by that fauiled kickstarter clone campain + got scared of cheap chinese clones and decided to abandon consumer market. Instead they will try to eat into entry level ‘prosumer’ one, stealing some of the entry level professional 3D printers pie.

    This makerbot even looks professional with matte black finish and finally proper metal case (instead of looking like something found in the dumpster)

    1. Except 100 microns is still pretty much crap in the world of professional 3d printers. Call me when they hit 10 microns and we will talk.

      With ABS plastic though? Not likely to happen anytime soon and the build times are going to be INCREDIBLE even if they manage it.

      1. DIY resin DLP 3D printing is coming up really fast on FDP’s bumper, anyway. Obviously FDP is still valuable as it can be done on a shoestring budget with fairly basic technology, nothing as exotic as a DLP micromirror array. But going for the prosumer market this late in the game, with FDP….eeeeeeeouch.

    2. I’m pretty sure that the failed Tangibot two weeks ago is not related in any way to this. The decission was taken long before but hey it will be used as an easy escape goat along many other clever “reasons” to justify closing the hardware.

  8. btw

    Positioning Precision : 2.5 microns

    is that something you can reach with steppers or did they finally started using linear actuators and encoders? I always wondered why repraps use steppers when you can just smash some dollar store optical mice and have perfect encoders on all axes.

    1. Unfortunately Optical mouse sensors often jump. I’ve used them and even when still they exhibit an unusable amount of jitter. Other times, whilst moving, I’ve had them overflow and say I’ve moved 128 points, even when sampling at 1kHz, a move of 3.25meters per sec, something my robot isn’t capable of.

      1. So if a restriction imposed by the hardware is known then shouldn’t be too much of a problem to filter out erroneous data always that the sensor could be recalibrated on a regular basis to keep absolute accuracy.

    2. 2.5 micron is not too hard to achieve using stepper motors. Take a stepper with 200 steps/rotation, half-step it for another 2x, add a worm gear with a pitch of 1 mm per rotation, and you’re already at 2.5 micron.

      The harder part is getting enough of the slack out of the system, so you don’t wind up with a 50 micron discrepancy whenever you reverse direction. But at that level of resolution, you should probably characterize the amount of slack and correct for it in software anyway.

      Of course, the resolution in the Z axis is only 100 micron “out of the box”, which can probably be bright down to 10-20 micron with very careful tuning. There’s not too many people that will go through the effort of optimizing their design to take advantage of the increased resolution in the XY plane, so it’s really that Z axis resolution that tends to be most important.

  9. Let’s ignore the semantic argument for a minute. Does anyone else feel that without ABS this is not a very useful machine? I love that PLA is safe/less toxic and biodegradable, etc, etc, but for that kind of pricetag ABS is kind of a must (some people would want to be able to make things that they could sell to people that go outdoors). It seems like ABS will cost even MORE money, and come in an “experimental” model (which sounds an awful lot like “if it doesn’t work don’t come whining to us”. Not all of us want 3D printers so that we can print out non-functional stuff from Thingiverse…

    1. PLA can be used outdoors fine. Cheap Chinese PLA will lose it’s colour in the sun, but quality stuff like from faberdashery works great.

      PLA is biodegradable, but it takes a long time, you don’t have to worry about it in your lifetime.

      1. I think the only issue with ABS is that the Replicator 2 doesn’t come with a heated build platform, and ABS tends to need that more than PLA because it doesn’t stick to the platform quite as well.

        I assume you should be able to print smaller pieces in ABS just fine. Or just put down a hefty raft first and hope for the best. Or you could retrofit the Replicator 2 with a HBP. It’s possible Makerbot may even sell a HBP for the Replicator 2 in the future – they’ve been pretty good at selling upgrade options like that in the past.

  10. I used a makerbot and was very unimpressed with the magnitude of DIY programming/setup that I was left to do myself, unimpressed with the accuracy, and the build tolerances of the machine. It’s very difficult to get a nice part made. For the amount of time I spend messing with this thing I’m still better off just milling away at a block of plastic with traditional machines.. unless it’s a figurine or something, but I have not been able to dial it in for those to come out very pretty. The only reason to put up with this noise is COST.

  11. I think the main reason they shifted from open source to closed source is because of shit like this:

    Yes, it was an unsuccessful kickstarter… but all it takes is for a major company like HP to do something similar and Makerbot as a company will be doomed.

    I have no problem with them locking up their intellectual property. At this point, the software and hardware are becoming so complex that there isn’t much that the open source community can do to improve it.

    1. They built their empire on top of other people’s work. Listen to Bre lately and his sales pitch however and it sure sounds like he invented home 3d printing.

      In case you’re wondering what venture capital does to the soul of a friendly business… another beautiful example.

  12. MakerBot here harms the open hardware movement. We should react in kind.

    Can anyone elaborate on the ties between Thingiverse and MakerBot? Is it not a problem that such a central infrastructure for open hardware is controlled (?) by a company that now seems to veer down the bad old closed path?

    1. Occupy thingiverse has NOTHING to do with the “Replicator 2” not being open source. It has to do with license changes on thingiverse.

      I’ve read up on it, and suddenly now, when you upload a model to thingiverse, you give protection of the model away to Makerbot. They are suddenly allowed to sell or make derivatives of it, without any attribution to you. Even if you required attribution or do not allow commercial use.

      Simply said, they are trying to screw over users with their new terms, and users don’t like to be screwed like this.

  13. What unbelievable assholes! They made a ton of money from other peoples inventions and now want to keep any progress to themselves.
    I never liked their lead guy, he has always struck me as a slimy bullshitter / sellout.

    1. May be the parts in bulk from China cost <$300 but the assembly, adjust, quality control and software development and research are going to add a good rise in the total end cost.

      Anyway must agree with you that for sure there is a filthy profit marging up to the retail price.

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