Last week Makerbot stuck a timer on their website, filling everyone with suspense about what the heck would happen at 3pm EST today. And lo and behold, Bre Pettis delivered upon us a press conference. Not his best performance – he seemed a bit nervous. But who cares – look what he brought! A new Replicator 2 and 2X, Makerware (replacing RepG) and …. a Makerbot Store. ROCK.

Replicator 2

Okay, when I heard about this press conference, I was wholly expecting something crazy. Like resin-based printing. Instead, we got a sexier version of the Replicator, called the Replicator II. Size-wise, the build platform is 37% higher than before. It’s not a significant improvement upon the original design, beyond the look and feel. 100 micron with PLA only isn’t a huge leap forward. There are plenty of machines out there that hit higher resolutions. But, are they as reliable? Or as cool looking? That is dependant upon the capabilities of the maker. From what I see here, Makerbot is selling the Rep2 to the business market, the ones who could easily afford a $2200 machine.

Replicator 2x

Oh, so you want to try out something crazier? There’s the Replicator 2x coming soon (early-2013) which uses ABS and has dual extruders. No word on what the specs are going to be like, but it seems like this is aimed at high-end designers and makers.

Makerware

Okay now this is good to see. ReplicatorG has been the stalwart programming software for Makerbot since the start. But it used Skeinforge, which patently sucked. With Makerware, you can slice and dice a model in seconds. Other goodies include adding multiple objects and scaling them independently. Considering how huge the build platforms for the RepI and RepII are, this is a bonus. There is a claim that print times are 30% higher – although I consider print time to include slicing and such….so no word on if this optimizes the GCode to make quicker prints (FYI GCode is very very dumb sometimes, wasting too much time doing this and that).

  • Some clever code optimizations make for stronger, more consistant prints.
  • MakerWare™ lets you open multiple models at once and arrange them on the build platform.
  • You can easily scale, move, or rotate individual models or groups of models at once.
  • Now you can work with both .stl and .obj files.

Makerbot Store

If you’re in NYC, hit up NoHo and check out the brand new Makerbot Retail Store. Makerbot Replicators, printed designs and products (like the Makerbot Mixtape) are all for sale. I was hoping for a Techshop-style fablab, although there will be ‘public demonstrations’. Damn. We want more hacking, Bre!

The Goods

Overall? I’d say Makerbot is gunning for all of those Architectural or Industrial Design firms. And not the big ones – the multitude of tiny ones. It’s great if you can walk into a meeting with a model of the home or product you’re pitching. And for $2200, its well worth it. There was a bit of backlash among the hackers on the chatrooms – mostly about the relationship between resolution and expense. For all those hackers, making a 3D printer is easy. For the rest of us, we just want it to work. The same situation exists between Apple, Microsoft and Linux. As a guy who spent untold hours trying to get a 3D printer to work, I’d be more than happy to pay for reliability just to save my time. And for that reason I buy Apply products too. Let’s hope that the Rep2 is the same.

Source: Makerbot

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