3D Printer Returns: Will MakerBot’s Replicator+ Suit Small Businesses?

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Will the new MakerBot Replicator Plus series suit small businesses?

MakerBot started shipping 3D printer kits in 2009, and since then the company has been having its ups and downs as the market continues to define itself. With the DIY market for 3D printing so crowded, MakerBot has decided to change directions by going after the professional and educational segment with the new Replicator+ 3D printers.

This is a great move by MakerBot, because it can now focus on creating high-quality printers specifically designed to give professionals and educators a reliable device that is affordable from an industry leader.

The New Makerbot Replicator Plus Series

The new line of printers called the MakerBot Replicator+ and Replicator Mini+ have a more robust construction with features that take into account today’s mobile and connected world, along with many other features. Whether you are a small engineering and design firm or an educator, these printers have the hardware and software to easily integrate into workflows for creating prototypes, one-off items, replacement parts, and more.

According to the company, both units have been completely reengineered with an extensive printer and subsystem testing of more than 380,000 hours during the development phase to ensure reliable, high-quality performance across multiple facilities.

The MakerBot Replicator+ is around 30 percent faster with a build volume that is 25 percent larger, while being 27 percent quieter. As for the Mini, it is 10 percent faster, with a build volume that is 28 percent larger and the noise has been decreased by 58 percent.

MakerBot Smart Extruder+

They both have the swappable MakerBot Smart Extruder+. This extruder has been tested to deliver better performance with a long life. It was tested for more than 160,000 hours, and it is backed by a 6-month warranty.

Being able to swap the extruder reduces downtimes by allowing businesses to quickly change the part if there is a problem. The company sells the extruders separately, which according to MakerBot is the only brand to offer a swappable extruder.

On-Board Camera and Connectivity

The on-board camera lets you monitor your print progress remotely with Wi-Fi, USB stick, USB cable, or Ethernet connectivity.

MakerBot Print and MakerBot Mobile

The MakerBot Print software and MakerBot Mobile applications give you more control by auto-arranging and importing native files from different formats for print preparation. The MakerBot Mobile on the other hand simplifies remote access with an all-new wireless guided setup. And if you have more than one printer, you can control them remotely to begin printing.

MakerBot Slate Gray Tough PLA Filament Bundle

The new filament has been designed so professionals can create durable, high-impact strength prototypes and fixtures. While it is much stronger, it is also designed to flex more before breaking just like ABS filaments. The company said these filaments are especially suitable for functional prototypes and prototyping jigs and fixtures that require threaded and snap fits.

Thingiverse Education

The Thingiverse Education is a platform for educators so they can connect with each other in order to collaborate and learn about 3-D printing best practices. Currently there are more than 100 lesson plans that have been created by other educators that has been thoroughly evaluated by MakerBot’s curriculum and education experts.

As MakerBot Learning Manager, Drew Lentz, said, “We believe that Implementing 3D printing in the classroom can only be successful if the technology complements a teacher’s goals for their students. With a new section of Thingiverse dedicated to educational content, teachers can engage in a rich community of educators to find lesson plans, resources, and to find more ways to use 3D Printing in the classroom than ever before.”

The change in direction by MakerBot to address professionals and educators will help it differentiate itself from the crop of 3D printers currently available in the market place. The price point and quality of the Replicator+ and Replicator Mini+ are well positioned to meet the needs of a growing segment of small businesses that have adopted the technology. However, it is not so expensive that it will price out individual consumers.

The MakerBot Replicator+ and MakerBot Replicator Mini+ have an MSRP of $2,499 and $1,299 respectively, but the company is offering them at an introductory price of $1,999 and $999 until October 31, 2016.