3D Printer - Makerbot Replicator Gen5


Quick Links

Exporting STL Files from SolidWorks • Exporting STL Files from CREO

Tutorial: Printing a Part • Shapeways.com 3D Printing and Design Tutorials


The MakerBot Replicator Gen5 is a "prosumer" desktop 3D printer great for rapid prototyping display or example models to verify your designs. The MakerBot Replicator Gen5 is an updated version of another 3D printer available at think[box], the MakerBot Replicator 2, featuring a larger build volume and a more intuitive full color LCD display. Like the Replicator 2, the Replicator Gen5 is inexpensive, easy to use, and 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 Gen5 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 DesignTinkerCad, 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. [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.
  4. Come to think[box] and follow the MakerBot Replicator Gen5 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. 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 and the pricing rate below:

Makerbot Material Prices:
Material Price
PLA $0.15 per gram

Technical Details

Build envelope (XYZ): 252 x 199 x 150 milimeters (9.9 x 7.8 x 5.9 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.