Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality
 
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ahochan
(@ahochan)
Active Member
Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

I have a MakerBot Replicator Mini (5th gen, with original "smart" extruder).

I've been contemplating getting rid of it and getting a Prusa i3 mk2 (pre-built version).

What kind of quality increase can I expect with prints over the MakerBot?

I'm relatively inexperienced with making 3D models. Usage will be mostly to print small support pieces to be used inside enclosures etc, but I also hope to be able to print some decorative items from Thingiverse and other sources.

I'm also hoping to be able to use some special filaments (specifcally woodfill to use together with CNC cut wood parts and metal composite filaments). I also find PLA very difficult to sand and finish, and it seems like materials like ABS are easier to finish properly.

Posted : 03/10/2016 10:56 am
PJR
 PJR
(@pjr)
Moderator
Re: Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

What kind of quality increase can I expect with prints over the MakerBot?

Impossible to say really, there are so many factors at play and quality is very subjective.

The Original will print all the filaments you mention without too many issues.

Peter

Please note: I do not have any affiliation with Prusa Research. Any advices given are offered in good faith. It is your responsibility to ensure that by following my advice you do not suffer or cause injury, damage…

Posted : 03/10/2016 11:31 am
ayourk
(@ayourk)
Reputable Member
Re: Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

You really need to do more research. No one person can give you the exact printer you should have. Maybe it is a Cubicon Single? Maybe it is an Original Prusa i3 MK2 with or without quad extruders? Maybe it is a Gigabot? Maybe it is a gMax 1.5 XT+? Maybe it is a Fabrikator Mini?

Each printer has its strengths and weaknesses. Each printer has a different target audience. Printers vary in price, quality, and print volume.

Here are my suggestions for research: Watch ALL the videos via at least these three Youtube channels:
Makers Muse
3D Printing Nerd
Chuck Hellebuyck's Electronic Products

And there are some other Youtube channels that you can check out.
Here is another Youtube Channel shootout

This is how I learned which printers to either buy or avoid.

Dimensions PNG

and an 8 inch (200mm) or greater caliper is recommended.

Posted : 03/10/2016 12:01 pm
ahochan
(@ahochan)
Active Member
Topic starter answered:
Re: Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

Thanks for the youtube links. I have watched quite a few reviews and I am familiar with two of those channels.

I think I worded my question badly. Let me try to rephrase, and come up with some specific questions:

* The MakerBot Mini is now 2 year old technology. What practical improvements (apart from a much wider range of supported filaments) have been made in those two years (in the budget range USD 800-1500)

* If anybody has experience with both printers, I'd love some feedback on their experience.

I can tell what I've had problems with when working with the Makerbot:

* The "smart" Extruder. I think everybody has had problems with it, so not a big deal. I see there is a replacement now, but it is USD 200, which is money I will consider spending towards a new printer instead of putting more money into the MakerBot. My understanding is that the new extruder is more stable, but the print quality is the same.

* Misalignment between layers, missing layers and gaps (under extrusion?), stringing. These are all issues that I could probably improve on with proper tweaking, but in general I find it difficult to figure out how to tweak and adjust the printer. Maybe this has to do with the fact that is packaged as a beginner's as-is printer. Would the i3 be easier to tweak in general?

* Software was extremely buggy in the beginning. I think it is a lot better now. How is the software for the i3? Is the "standard" software for the i3 beginner friendly? Will it work directly from Autodesk Fusion 360? I will use a Mac for all printing.

A couple of general questions:

* What are the practical implications of a completely open design vs the closed makerbot design? The room the printer is in will get very hot in summer (30-35 degrees, high humidity) but can get quite cold in Winter (15-18 degrees, dry air). I've had problems with the Makerbot refusing to print in winter because it tries to cool down the nozzle too much during a print, and then fails.

* Is it common / a requirement to use rafts when printing with an i3, or can I expect to be able to print directly without them?

Posted : 04/10/2016 7:25 am
JoanTabb
(@joantabb)
Moderator
Re: Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

The i3 can print directly on the bed without a raft

Regards Joan

I try to make safe suggestions,You should understand the context and ensure you are happy that they are safe before attempting to apply my suggestions, what you do, is YOUR responsibility. Location Halifax UK

Posted : 04/10/2016 9:51 am
ayourk
(@ayourk)
Reputable Member
Re: Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

Thanks for the youtube links. I have watched quite a few reviews and I am familiar with two of those channels.

I think I worded my question badly. Let me try to rephrase, and come up with some specific questions:

* The MakerBot Mini is now 2 year old technology. What practical improvements (apart from a much wider range of supported filaments) have been made in those two years (in the budget range USD 800-1500)

Is the print volume of the MakerBot Mini insufficient for you? For the improvements part of the question, I'd recommend watching Thomas Sanladerer's channel. He covers most of the improvements possible regardless of the printer they can be applied to. Your MakerBot Mini might be 2 years old, but FDM technology in general is older than that and still widely used today. Part of what I'm saying is that even on the Youtube channels I listed, even watching old videos (2 years or older) will teach you much about 3D printing and the processes it takes to 3D print something. Even the archived live streams give much insight via the questions and answer sessions that occur.


* If anybody has experience with both printers, I'd love some feedback on their experience.

I can tell what I've had problems with when working with the Makerbot:

* The "smart" Extruder. I think everybody has had problems with it, so not a big deal. I see there is a replacement now, but it is USD 200, which is money I will consider spending towards a new printer instead of putting more money into the MakerBot. My understanding is that the new extruder is more stable, but the print quality is the same.

* Misalignment between layers, missing layers and gaps (under extrusion?), stringing. These are all issues that I could probably improve on with proper tweaking, but in general I find it difficult to figure out how to tweak and adjust the printer. Maybe this has to do with the fact that is packaged as a beginner's as-is printer. Would the i3 be easier to tweak in general?

This sounds like there is some sort of mechanical issue. Possibly loose belts, under extrusion, or retraction settings. Makers Muse recently released a video about retraction settings. Most printers are "beginner's printers". Everyone has to start somewhere. Each printer has its own quirks to get working (part of the advantages and disadvantages I mentioned earlier).


* Software was extremely buggy in the beginning. I think it is a lot better now. How is the software for the i3? Is the "standard" software for the i3 beginner friendly? Will it work directly from Autodesk Fusion 360? I will use a Mac for all printing.

There is no such thing as "standard" software with 3D printers that can handle raw GCode. I believe MakerBot Mini is one of those printers (correct me if I'm wrong). This means you can use whatever 3D modeling software you want, whichever slicer you want, and so on. Makers Muse and Chuck Hellebuyck's channels cover this in better detail. I've seen these channels and Joel's cover the following 3D modeling software: OpenSCAD, TinkerCAD, Onshape, Blender, SolidWorks (if you can afford it), and Fusion 360. There are other 3D modeling packages out there as well. From the sounds of it, you need to explore what 3D Modeling software you like using on your Mac. I don't know why you think modeling software is also a slicer. There are 3 slicers I've seen pretty prominent on the market today: Simplify3D, Cura, and Slic3r. I do know Craftware also makes a slicer. Makers Muse did cover a slicer shootout awhile back.


A couple of general questions:

* What are the practical implications of a completely open design vs the closed makerbot design? The room the printer is in will get very hot in summer (30-35 degrees, high humidity) but can get quite cold in Winter (15-18 degrees, dry air). I've had problems with the Makerbot refusing to print in winter because it tries to cool down the nozzle too much during a print, and then fails.

Again, this is answered by watching Youtube videos. Makers Muse covers this most elegantly with his Warpinator 3000.


* Is it common / a requirement to use rafts when printing with an i3, or can I expect to be able to print directly without them?

The Print Bed dictates whether or not a raft is necessary. For some printers, it is required. This falls in to the "quirks" category. The Prusa i3 MK2 uses a printbed with a PEI sheet (as do many other printers now a days) which makes rafts mostly unnecessary. There have been a few occasions I've had to use them when I've printed something, but that is because the model would not have covered enough of a direct surface area (i.e. points of contact) on the bed. There are many other forms of bed adhesion possible. I know if you watched many of Makers Muse videos, you would hear a lot about BuildTak. Some people like Hair Spray and glue stick. There are other things that can also be used to make bed adhesion better.

Here is another Youtube Channel Shootout

Dimensions PNG

and an 8 inch (200mm) or greater caliper is recommended.

Posted : 04/10/2016 10:16 am
ahochan
(@ahochan)
Active Member
Topic starter answered:
Re: Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

Thanks for pointing out some specific videos to watch. I'll dig in and watch a few over the following weeks.

Probably, I'll try to see how far I can get in correcting issues for my MakerBot first, because I feel that right now the print quality I'm getting isn't representative of what it should be capable of.

I use Fusion 360 as my CAD software. I thought it included a slicer, but it looks like I was wrong. In either case, I can export STL files from it, and I've printed several designs in the Makerbot software that way.

I have Cura installed, but as far as I can see, MakerBot doesn't use standard g-code.
( https://ultimaker.com/en/community/10373-cura-configuration-file-for-makerbot )

Posted : 04/10/2016 11:21 am
ahochan
(@ahochan)
Active Member
Topic starter answered:
Re: Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

Oh, and I use BuildTak for my MakerBot mini, but the MakerBot software doesn't allow me to turn off rafts (a limitation of the machine maybe).

Posted : 04/10/2016 11:34 am
ayourk
(@ayourk)
Reputable Member
Re: Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

Thanks for pointing out some specific videos to watch. I'll dig in and watch a few over the following weeks.

Probably, I'll try to see how far I can get in correcting issues for my MakerBot first, because I feel that right now the print quality I'm getting isn't representative of what it should be capable of.

I use Fusion 360 as my CAD software. I thought it included a slicer, but it looks like I was wrong. In either case, I can export STL files from it, and I've printed several designs in the Makerbot software that way.

I have Cura installed, but as far as I can see, MakerBot doesn't use standard g-code.
( https://ultimaker.com/en/community/10373-cura-configuration-file-for-makerbot )

This is why I recommended going to those Youtube channels and watching ALL of their videos, even the old ones. This is how I learned so much about 3D printing.

From what I read about that article, it looks like you can generate standard GCode with any gcode slicer, but then it needs to be processed with a special program for it to be sent to the printer. I am pretty sure that Simplify3D is one such piece of software that can do this within its graphical interface automatically for you (I found it on the Scripts tab). I just checked Simplify3D's add printer wizard, and there is a stock profile for this printer included in it.

Oh, and I use BuildTak for my MakerBot mini, but the MakerBot software doesn't allow me to turn off rafts (a limitation of the machine maybe).

Turning off rafts is a limitation of the Slicer. It sounds like you are using MakerBot's proprietary slicer. Hardware will do whatever software tells it to do, even if the instructions are bad.

Dimensions PNG

and an 8 inch (200mm) or greater caliper is recommended.

Posted : 04/10/2016 5:35 pm
ahochan
(@ahochan)
Active Member
Topic starter answered:
Re: Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

Post-processing the g-code seems to be the key for using an external slicer with 5th generation MakerBots.

Simplify3D seems very nice, but they don't seem to have a demo version (just a money back option), so for now I'll try out slic3r instead.

Posted : 07/10/2016 5:31 am
steven.m14
(@steven-m14)
New Member
Re: Prusa i3 mk2 vs MakerBot Replicator Mini print quality

Print quality would be my only concern. the I3 MK2 has solid software with Slic3r Prusa Ed. which is free with the machine. I bought the kit and assembled this only took a day. The work with Prusa is in the calibration. there's a lot of good tutorials online but you'll still need to do some fine tuning for your machine.

I say the print quality concerns me only due to poor print quality I've gotten every time I use supports. I've adjusted setting and done about 50 prints, just can't seem to correct. I'f you're printing flat it's great. I'd suggest using the Prusa i3 however would HIGHLY recommend slicing all models in half loosing supports on all prints ( No printing overhangs ). You get a great print on the sides and top but the bottoms where the print in supported looks awful.

Posted : 13/12/2017 7:54 pm
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