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David Lee King

Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation – Not Ready for Primetime!



Makerbot Replicator 5th GenerationA little over a month or so ago, my library bought our first 3D printer, a Makerbot – the newest, 5th Generation Makerbot.

Our goal is to put it out for public use this fall (one of the options in our planned makerspace/digital media lab).

But guess what? We can’t get the thing to work consistently. It’s easy to use, the controls are great, the filament is easy to load, and their new Smart Extruder print head is easy to work with.

Well – it’s easy to work with until there’s a jam or clog. Guess what? The Smart Extruder isn’t so smart when it comes to clogs, because you can’t really take the thing apart to unclog it.

We’ve had to send the extruder back to Makerbot and get a replacement … about 4-5 times now. In a month and a half.

Not good, Makerbot! I’m guessing you guys can do better than that!

Fingers crossed this gets figured out, or we’ll have to send the whole thing back and find another option.

So – who has 3D printers out for public use? Which ones? I’d love to know – especially if I have to find another one!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tyera Eulberg

    Lulzbot upgraded our public-use 3D printer to the TAZ 4 several weeks ago, and it has run flawlessly so far. We had some bed-leveling problems with previous models, requiring calibration nearly every print, but I just finished a 60-part, 2-week printing project for a patron with no leveling needed!
    We’re very happy with it. Only attempting ABS plastic, though.
    -Loveland Public Library, Loveland, Colorado

  • http://www.newtonplks.org Nathan Carr

    Last I heard, Salina Public Library has one but I do now know which model or how well it is working out for them.

  • Dale Askey

    We’ve also had severe issues with our Makerbot fifth gen, albeit of a different nature than yours. We’re already on our second device; the first one failed completely even after it had been repaired once in their shop. I get the sense that in the rush to make a slickly packaged printer, they cut some corners on the engineering and QC. The replacement printer we have is just OK in terms of print quality, and is very loud and makes very unpleasant noises when moving the build plate during setup. We believe that this is due to a misalignment of its carrier rods; again, that’s just poor QC.

    We just ordered our second printer. The Makerbot is only semi-public, and this second printer will be fully accessible to all. Needless to say, after the issues with Makerbot, we opted to diversify our fleet and ordered an Ultimaker 2. Hopefully we will have better results.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    I’ve seen the Ultimaker at Union Station’s Science City makerspace – they liked them. I’ll be interested to see if those work better for you guys!

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Good to know, and thanks for sharing! How is the ABS plastic smell? I’ve heard it has a definite odor.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Good to know – I’ll have to ask them about theirs.

  • Tyera Eulberg

    Honestly, I can’t perceive any odor from the melting ABS. (I just went to sniff the running printer ;) )

  • Tyler

    My library had similar issues with the Makerbot 5th generation. We sent the smart extruder back and got another one, but the jamming issues happened again. We returned the 5th gen and replaced it the Replicator 2. The print quality is about the same and we have had no performance issues so far. Our tech department is much happier with the Replicator 2.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    We might do that as well – we will see!

  • Andrew B

    The local high school that hosts our makerspace bought an Up! Plus 2 for their CAD class and it has worked great so far. Perfect auto be measuring (level and nozzle height) and every object has come out looking great so far.

  • frustrated user

    Bought five makerbot 5th generation machines they are already clogged beyond repair they have only been running for about 10-15 hrs. There is only one working at the moment.
    Tips: never unload filament. cut it off and load it through

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Good to know – thanks for sharing!

    David Lee King | davidleeking.com
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  • Nick

    I know what you mean! I had a similar experience with that 3D printer and wrote an in-depth review with a similar headline about it ( http://nicklievendag.com/makerbot-replicator-5th-generation-review/ ).

    I’ve been exploring alternatives ( http://nicklievendag.com/3d-printers-for-creative-professionals/ ) and will be reviewing some of these 3D printers very soon!

  • Eldemie Villordon

    I agree with you! I got similar reviews about 3D printers here: http://3dprinterblog.net/category/3d-printers/ This might help you in identifying which ones work best.