Makerbot Replicator 2 Tips and Tricks

We have this 3D printer from Makerbot, Replicator 2, which costs us a lot of money, but comes with bonus of a lot of headaches and failed prints. After doing tens of times of maintenance, we figured to document things down to makes it easier for others.

1. Filament
– Kind of filament we need: PLA 1.75mm
– Where to source/buy filament: igo3d Oldenburg, ca. 24€/kg.
– How to check if filament good or not: try bend it with a knife, it should NOT be brittle. Also try to see the filament through the light (lamp or flashlight), the light should not pass through the filament. We had this one bad filament, it’s very brittle and the extruded output was gray instead of black.
– Extruding temperature and speed settings for Makerbot Rep 2 really matters.
– Different color may require different temp settings, e.g. black needs lower temp.
– To check if temp is sufficient: when nozzle is not extruding, it leaks/drips filament a bit.
– If extruding speed is too fast, extruded filament lines will be thin and inconsistent, resulting ugly layer with lots of holes.

Current setting for White PLA from Igo3D:
Temperature: 240°C
Extruding Speed: 80 mm/s

2. Printer Preparation
– Use brown tape (Tesa 4309 50mm width) to wrap the build plate. DO NOT overlap the tape. After 2 prints, change the tape, don’t be cheap.
– Build plate leveling, do this after applying brown tape. Makerbot’s instruction was to use their business card, it’s too thin. Use HVS paper instead. If gap is too small, nozzle will be blocked.

3. Nozzle maintenance
– Before starting print, run “load filament” and let it out for ca. 5 seconds and check the output quality, if it’s consistent and has diameter ca. 4-5 mm, proceed. Do this several time to make sure.
– The nozzle output should be smooth and straight. If output is curly, the nozzle might be clogged.
– If nozzle is clogged, easiest cleaning process would be to take the drive gear motor out (not necessary if extruder is upgraded with this one), then plug in the filament to the nozzle’s upper hole. Do manual extrusion by pushing the filament through the nozzle until it comes out from the nozzle tip, then pull it back quickly. The filament tip inside the nozzle should be melted together with the residue of previous filament that makes the nozzle clogged. After pulling, cut clean the tip of the filament, then repeat the process 3-5 times until the extrusion output is no longer curly.
– If the sides of the nozzle is dirty, clean it while its hot (by preheating it) with a knife or something. make sure the nozzle is properly tightened.
– To open and tighten the nozzle, do it with preheating it first so no solid filament will make it stuck.
– Clean the drive gear once in a while, and lubricate.

Tools needed for maintenance:
– 7mm wrench for the nozzle hot end
– 8mm (or 9mm?) wrench for the upper nozzle
– Allen key set

Parts needed:
– Kapton tape (for heater block)
– Ceramic insulator (for heater block)
– Build plate tape: Tesa 4309. This proves to be better than Makerbot’s default blue tape. It also gives a very nice surface once you peeled it off.

Coming up: Photos.