Sunday, March 3, 2013


The building material for the Replicator 2 is PolyLactic Acid, or "PLA". It comes as filament wound on spools like the ones you see below. The half spool of naturally colored PLA on the top came with the Replicator 2. The MakerBot site sells a handful of colors for $48 each; the opaque green and semi-translucent blue came from there, and at the moment it feels like they will last forever, at least for the small objects that we've been printing. (The tiny TARDIS you see in the picture was printed in an opaque darker blue and my guess is that is was made from ABS material on a Replicator 1; it came from the Makerbot Retail Store's "Gumball Machine".)

So far the PLA has been working very well. My only complaint is that it is very shiny, which sometimes makes it difficult to see small details in a model. However, the overall look is very nice, especially for the more translucent colors.

You can get spools of PLA filament from many places online. Our Replicator 2 takes 1.75mm filament so we ordered some 1.75 filament from It works fine in the printer but the spool does not fit on the Replicator 2's spool handle. Nothing that can't be fixed with a pencil, rubber bands, and a box, though:

Of course, with a 3D printer one could also print a smaller spool holder:

Here's a hint about changing filament in the Replicator 2: Through the "Utilities" menu you can select "Change Filament" and then either "Load" or "Unload". The "Load" function heats the extruder and then runs the motor forward; you push the filament through until it starts extruding. (Basically this machine is just a giant glue gun, so if you've loaded a heated glue gun then you know how to load the Replicator 2.) The "Unload" function runs the motor in reverse so you can pull out the filament. One time we could not get the filament to pull out during the unload process. Under the assumption that maybe the filament had made some kind of ball or obstruction that we couldn't pull through, we ran the "Load" function, let it extrude for a couple of seconds, removed what was extruded, and then ran "Unload". It worked great and now I do all all unloads this way, with a quick "Load" to start and clear out anything that might be in the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment