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DDPlab Digital Design & Production | IoA Institute of Architecture | University of Applied Arts Vienna

Makerbot Replicator 2 | FDM 3D Printers

DSC_3186One Makerbot Replicator 2 is located in the Experimental Lab in the “Ferstel-Trakt” on the 2nd floor on our gallery. This printer is not for general studio projects of the 3 design studios (except if one of the Digital Design & Production seminars is chosen as integral part of the semester’s design studio project).
It is reserved for prototyping, experimental projects especially involving research projects and other architecture departments of the faculty.

Three Makerbot Replicator 2s for general use (by the design studios and for model building) are located in each of the 3 design Studios of the Institute of Architecture in the “Schwanzer Trakt” on the 1st floor in Studio Hadid, 3rd floor in Studio Hani Rashid and on the 4th floor in Studio Lynn. Check with your studio’s assistant professors how printing in your studio is handled.

For technical details like printing technique, build volume etc. see the Makerbot Webpage
he official Manual you can find here.

The MakerBot Desktop Software you need to produce the gcode can be found here.


Printing Material = 1.75mm Filament:

is best ordered from ColorFabb (very good quality, nice finish, a lot of colors and a growing range of special materials, free shipping to Austria when purchasing 6 or more spools) or formFutura (wide range of special materials, water soluable, flexible, nylon, etc.)

There is also a store in Vienna closed to the Angewandte in the 3rd District called 3DEE (it sells ColorFabb and many other good quality filaments for just a slightly higher price if you want to save shipping time and experimental materials are offered to purchase by meter)

The Makerbot Extruder is made for 1.75 mm diameter filament and best prints with PLA.

In comparison to our zCorp printer there is no support material, meaning that every form cantilevering at an steeper angle than 45 degrees can only be printed by adding geometrical supports (either manually modeled or automatically generated by the software) that need to be manually broken and cut away after printing. Note that they extend the printing time.


We recommend following Software-Settings:

makerbot_settingsChoose ” The Replicator 2” as export for
use PLA 1.75mm for printing (ABS would need a heated printbed for a good quality finish and has a much higher melting point than PLA and could break the extruder on the long term)
as Resolution the “Standard” settings are fine (the low settings of course will reduce your print time, but the quality will lack especially during the first 5-10 layers a lot, the High setting will extend print time enormously and the surface finish of the end result is usually not as good as with the standard settings)
The default slicer settings are usually the best. Change them to a higher infill or more shells if you want to have very solid objects e.g. machine parts, or in general pieces that need to sustain forces applied to them…

The estimated print time and material usage setting help to coordinate several prints and to avoid that the filament feed ends during printing (what normally means, that the print job needs to be started again from the beginning) as one can estimate the amount needed and the material left on the spool.

If you want to print from an SD card directly on the printer make sure to write an .x3g file as a .gcode file can only be printed with the Replicator connected to a computer running the software.



Some cheap filaments have a high tolerance in filament diameter (differs more than +-0.05mm in diameter which is “theoretically” the industries allowed tolerance….but practically unfortunately not) which can get stuck in the extruder when they exceed the diameter of the extruder hole….the stuck material can damage the heating element and when the material feed stops also the print is lost…
Sometimes in cheap material there are also air inclusions reducing in less material feed at these local points producing a not very nice surface finish or weak breaking points in the geometry of your print piece……therefore
 rather spend a couple of euros more instead of risking your print going wrong (especially when it takes a couple of hours) or damaging the printer!

Make sure your geometry is “watertight”, meaning that every mesh you want to print needs to  be a closed solid with no naked edges. (when the slicing software reaches a naked edge it can happen, that it cannot differentiate anymore between inside and outside and generates false infill or no machine code at all at these positions, by checking the print preview these errors usually show up. In the best case scenario the user is informed while importing an stl file by the MakerWare itself, that the mesh is bad…but not always)

Make sure the object is exactly on the world origin x-y-plane. Objects “flying or intersecting” it are also interpreted very wrong by the slicing software and very bad machine code is produced…

The more objects, the more faces, etc…the longer the slicing takes….a simple cube slices in a couple of seconds….a mesh with ten-thousands of faces….can take hours…or won’t slice at all…

In general: the cleaner the geometry the better are the chances to get it out of the computer into the material world again!


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