You could say that MakerBot is turning over a new leaf: with the newly released MakerBot+ and MakerBot Mini+ the company is targeting quality, superior mechanics and reliability. We have the first exclusive photos from unboxing and testing of the new desktop 3D printers and we also discovered that their best new feature – by far – is MakerBot Print, the desktop version of the excellent GrabCAD Print software, designed for true, one click, pre-prototyping.
Thanks to our friends at Energy Group, Italy’s leading Stratasys and MakerBot distributor, we got to see and try the new generation of MakerBot Desktop 3D printers just before of the official presentation. The first impression is definitely positive.
The new MakerBot Replicator+ immediately looks sturdier and more elegant then its predecessor. In MakerBot’s intentions it will gradually replace the Replicator 2. Its redesigned mechanics are quiter and faster.
Printing begins just moments after we took it out of the box, all you have to do is connect it to your mobile phone app in order to complete the wi-fi setup.
Some new features also stand out immediately: for example the plate is much larger, flexible and it does not need kapton tape.
The smart extruder also seems to have finally smartened out. We have no direct confirmation but Stratasys told us they have completed countless hours of continuous testing.
Print quality is really good and definitely faster than it was. But the most impressive feature is MakerBot Print.
It is a simplified version of GrabCAD Print but just as poweful. It is able to read native files in just about every CAD software there is except Rhino (no STL required).
It just takes the 3D model no matter how complex, divides it into its many parts and displays them on the print plate ready to be 3D printed. It makes pre-prototyping of any complex design as easy as one-click. Because that is what the MakerBot Replicator+ is clearly for: preprototyping.
This time Stratasys did its homework. It figured out that the number one application for its systeems is to test prototypes before sending the final version to be 3D printed with high-end, expensive materials in the high-end industrial Fortus FDM systems. That’s why there is no need for the Replicator+ to use materials other than PLA and a new Ultra Strong, launching with the new machines.
Another field of application that Stratasys is targeting is education, intended as edcuation on how to actually use 3D printers and design for 3D printers. Here too the only material you really need is PLA.
And by the way, the Replicator Mini has been upgraded to Replicator Mini+ as well.
We got to try this little bad boy too. Once again mechanics definitely seemed improved, the machine being noticeably faster and quieter. Print quality was more than satisfactory and while the print plate is very small it is bigger than it used to be. Oh, and the price is smaller for both systems, which are expected to come out on the EU market respectively at around €2,400 and €1,100.