MakerBot 3D Printer. Source: MakerBot.
MakerBot 3D Printer. Source: MakerBot.

After working with the MakerBot Replicator 2 for a couple of months, we have discovered some tips and tricks that have made our 3D printing experience more enjoyable, and the quality of the prints better. Here are some things we have learned:

Clean the Build Plate with Rubbing Alcohol and a Cotton Ball

We noticed after a few builds, the build plate lost some its “stickiness” due to residual plastic, fingerprints, etc. We found on a forum that someone recommended rubbing alcohol to clean the build plate. This is very effective and the alcohol evaporates quickly so there is no down time.

While on the topic of the build plate, keep in mind the build plate has two sides. One side will leave the MakerBot logo in your print, unless the plate is covered in tape, and the other side will create a smooth surface on your project. Either side works equally well.   

Painter’s Tape Sheet on Build Plate of MakerBot

The MakerBot Replicator 2 came with some sheets of painter’s blue tape. We’ve experimented with the sheets and have found they work well for some prints and for some prints, they don’t. We’ve come to the hypothesis that if a project has a smaller contact surface with the build plate, the blue tape works well. However, if the project has a large contact surface with the build plate, like a phone cover, it’s better to print directly on the plate. We still need to do some testing regarding this.

Projects Sticking too Hard to MakerBot’s Build Plate

We’ve been able to remove most projects by taking the plate out of the MakerBot and with just a little bit of effort, pop the project off the build plate. But we have had some builds that were more difficult to remove. We’ve found the best way to remove these builds is with a thin-bladed putty knife. Begin on one corner of the print and carefully, without scratching the build plate, work the knife between the plate and project. Then you can slowly work your way around the print, removing it from the build plate.

Orange Ceramic Tape Came off of MakerBot Extruder

On the bottom of the extruder, there is a piece of ceramic tape that shields the print from the heat of the extruder. After about 6 weeks of use, the ceramic tape on our extruder came off, became caught on a project, and tore. We removed the remaining tape. We haven’t notice a difference in prints but emailed MakerBot and they offered to send some new tape free of charge. See article on how to replace the ceramic tape.  

Coil Filament Behind 3D Printer vs. Spool

One of the biggest challenges we faced with the MakerBot Replicator 2 is the filament extruding sporadically at times. After adjusting the plunger, cleaning the drive gear and leveling the plate, we were still having problems. We discovered the issue was that the filament was binding on the spool so the MakerBot couldn’t efficiently spin the spool and unwind the filament. We resolved this by removing about 10 feet of filament from the spool and sitting it coiled behind the printer.

While you do have to check the printer regularly to make certain the filament doesn’t get tangled, and ensure it doesn’t run out of filament, our prints have been consistently good.

We are still working on a permanent solution that will allow the filament to unwind hassle-free.    

Raft and Supports

Printing with a raft or with a raft and supports can be very helpful for some prints. These options are available within MakerWare. Rafts help prints, especially objects with small bases, stick to the build plate. We’ve also found rafts useful for any object that doesn’t stick well. Supports are necessary when prints have overhanging parts of more than 45 degrees.

We have found these MakerBot tips and tricks useful and will publish more as we come across other ideas to make your 3D prints successful.