What is 3D Printer?

The Replicator 2 to The Test

The consumer 3D printers can be counted on fingers. But as good as the models sold for creating home objects in 3 dimensions? Having taken up the Cube in Cubify we lab tested the Replicator 2t. With few surprises to boot.

What is 3D Printer

“The best printer  3D consumer market”… this is how the US manufacturer this easily the latest addition to its range, the Replicator 2. If, on paper, create objects in 3D with this machine does not seem a problem, however some pitfalls stand in use.

Concerns For Printing

Install cartridge plastic or engage the filament in the print head does not pose any particular problem. However, for successful printing, the user must take care that the print head is not blocked, verify that the plastic filament is successful the coil and sometimes tinker a temporary support in the if the printed object would not stand alone.

Another essential condition: that the tray is clean and perfectly horizontal. However, the upgrade process support is far from obvious. Finally, despite our many attempts, we never managed to start any printing from the computer. Each time, we had to transfer the file to an SD card, insert it into the printer drive and control printing from the machine.

Limited Capacity

Like most 3D printer, the Replicator 2 lets you choose between multiple print qualities: low, medium or high. The higher it is, the more layers are finer and the plastic density is important. But in return, the cost is higher and the print time may take off. For example, it took us less than 30 minutes to create a mug average, against more than 17 hours to achieve the same high quality object (2 hours to generate the + 15 hours to print file) . It is also possible to choose the color of the object.Simply changing the cartridge (10 colors are available). But unlike other machines with multiple print heads, not with the Replicator 2 to create multicolored objects, if not by separately printing the various components and then assembling them. The user has no choice of the material. As with most consumer 3D printers, the object is necessarily designed PLA (see box), a kind of plastic, the resistance has its limits. Result: our mug is distorted when we tried to fill it with hot water.

An Imperfect Result

The objects we have made to resemble many original file. Nevertheless, over the selected quality, the lower the plastic layers are thick and coarse finishes. In any case, the impression is far from achieving the precision of professional machines. During our tests, it is also happened that impressions fail, either because the first plastic layers have not been applied correctly, or because the filament has been deposited irregularly. Defects that we had also noted during the grip of another 3D printer, the Cube 3DSystems. We also happened that the object breaks when we wanted to take off the support. Adhesives designed to facilitate takeoff exist, but still have to find the one best suited to the device and how to use it.

In Search of 3d File

o make life easier for its customers, we had the good idea to provide them with a community site  on which they can recover 3D files ready to print and a software called Makerware, running Windows 7 and 8 and OSX. Too bad it only allows you to view the object before printing and change its size or orientation. To fundamentally change or create yourself a 3D file, it is necessary to develop a computer-aided design (CAD) software. It is free to download on the Internet. But even in this case, the software Makerware remains necessary, in particular to optimize the route of the printhead and reduce delays.

High Prices

The Replicator 2 is sold on the site costs 2199 dollars, or about 1650 euros . A carton of 1 kg plastic costing 48 dollars (36 euros), we calculated that the impression of a mug we had returned to € 3.70 and that of a teapot less than 5 €. A little pricey for plastic items that fear the heat and unusable in real life! The energy expenditure is negligible (less than 10 cents per item), but must be added the costs of delivery of equipment, sold only on the Internet.

Our Opinion

With a little practice, the Replicator 2 offers a true fun to create your own 3D objects home.However, given the cost of each print, the quality of the result (which is sometimes inadequate) and the lack of resistance of objects created, you can really pose the question of the value of having such a machine to House. It seems that the Replicator, like other 3D printers, will still be a good time a luxury for some people, far from helpful and very popular MFPs.

How We Process

We printed several objects in various qualities, throwing printing from the computer and directly from an SD card inserted in the machine. Each time, we measured the printing time. A jury also evaluated the usability of the machine and found the quality of the result.

The Replicator 2 Figures

Machine dimensions (a ith the installed coil)

Width: 49 cm

Height: 38 cm

Depth: 42 cm

Machine weight: 11.5 kg

Maximum dimensions of printed objects

Width: 28.4 cm

Height: 15.5 cm

Depth: 15.2 cm

Resolution

HD: 100 microns

medium definition: 270 microns

Low resolution: 340 microns

Plastic, It’s Fantastic

Like most 3D printer defined on ABBREVIATIONFINDER, the Replicator creates plastic objects PLA. Thereof is in the form of a filament wound in a cartridge attached to the rear of the device. In passing through the print head, the plastic is heated to 230 ° C and then deposited on the plate in successive layers. It then cools almost instantly and quickly hardens to the point that it can be handled almost immediately. Other printers use a different type of plastic called ABS. More solid, plastic also takes longer to cool. Printers using the ABS are generally equipped with protective panels intended to limit the risk of burns.