3D Printer - Makerbot Replicator 2

Quick Links

Exporting STL Files from SolidWorksExporting STL Files from CREO
Using Insight to Calculate STL Volume • Using Insight to Scale STL Files
Tutorial: Printing a Part • Shapeways.com 3D Printing and Design Tutorials


Quickly iterate your prototypes to verify your designs and catch flaws sooner using this "prosumer" desktop 3D printer. Use this printer to rapidly prototype display or example models. The MakerBot Replicator 2 is inexpensive, easy to use, and unlike the other 3D printers at think[box], you can run it yourself. If you don't need a stronger functional prototype, or the additional accuracy found in the Fortus 3D printers, a MakerBot Replicator 2 may be the 3D printer for you.

How to Start

  1. Prepare your design using your prefered 3D Modeling Software (SolidWorks, CREO, Rhino, Alias, Google SketchUp Pro, etc). If you do not have access to a CAD package, consider using one of the free CAD packages like 123D Design, TinkerCad, or the free educational download of Autodesk Inventor. Please note think[box] does not currently offer training on any CAD package, instead it is suggested that you search for online tutorials for your preferred CAD package. Use your home computer, Nord Lab, Reinberger Lab, or another lab on campus to prepare your design. There are only a small number of computers at think[box], and they are to be used for running machines, not preparing designs.
  2. Using your prefered 3D Modeling Software, export your 3D Model as an STL file. As a convenience we offer a tutorial for Exporting STL Files From Solidworks, and a tutorial for Exporting STL Files from CREO.
  3. Determine the volume of material (in cubic inches) of your part.  If your software can't do that, then come in to the lab and follow our tutorial on Using Insight To Find STL Volume.  Alternatively, you can use the free online Netfabb Cloud to calculate volume in cubic decimeters, and multiply by 61.02 to get the volume in cubic inches.
  4. [OPTIONAL] If you need to scale your part before printing it, then come in to the lab and follow our tutorial on Using Insight To Scale Your STL File.
  5. Come to think[box] and follow the MakerBot Replicator 2 Tutorial to print your part.

File Format 

The 3D printer takes STL files, the most common 3D file format.  When exporting STL files from your modeling software, if you get an option to select a resolution, there is no need to go smaller than 0.001 inches. The resolution of finished parts on the MakerBot is not finer than this, so increasing the STL resolution beyond this won't result in increased part resolution.


The material used is plastic called PLA (Polylactic Acid). Material properties such as Tensile Strength and Flexural Modulus vary widely with exact composition. For functional prototypes, it is recommended that you use a different 3D printer. Colors stocked include red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, two grays, black, and translucent natural. Visit think[box] to verify your desired color is in stock. If you would like to bring in your own material, please see a think[box] staff member. Estimate your costs based on the number of cubic inches of modeling material your part will use. Final costs are based on the weight of material you use. A student worker will weigh your desired spool before and after you use the 3D printer and calculate the price based on the difference in weight. Prices are listed below (see explanation of pricing rates):

Makerbot Material Prices:
Material Regular Price Undergraduate Price
PLA $0.19 per gram $0.15 per gram

Technical Details

Build envelope (XYZ): 285 x 153 x 155 milimeters (11.2 x 6.0 x 6.1 inches)

MakerBot's advertised minimum step height is 100 microns (about 0.004 inches). Your results may vary based on the settings you choose and the geometry of your part.