With an eye on professionals and educators, MakerBot has unveiled the sixth generation of its 3D printers, along with a batch of system accessories. The Replicator+ and Replicator+ Mini models are faster and quieter than their predecessors, with bigger build volumes and a new build plate that grips prints better and flexes to make it easier to remove them. The company has also detailed a new Smart Extruder, a tougher PLA filament, and updates to the MakerBot web and mobile apps.
As the company's mid-tier printer, the Replicator+ increases the build volume by 25 percent over the last model, to 11.6 x 7.6 x 6.5 in (29.5 x 19.3 x 16.5 cm), and it does the job 30 percent faster and 27 percent quieter. Once it's done, the build plate can now bend to make it easy to remove printed objects.
The baby of the MakerBot family is growing up, as the Replicator Mini+ now has a build volume of 4 x 5 x 5 in (10.2 x 12.7 x 12.7 cm), which is 28 percent larger than before. Unfortunately, that also means the physical size of the device has increased a little too, which may be an issue for people keen on its portability. On the other hand, it's now 10 percent faster and 58 percent quieter than the previous model.
MakerBot says both models have been redesigned to improve the quality of the prints. In addition to packing in the new Smart Extruder+, which is reported to perform better and for longer, the gantry and Z-Stage have been improved and a new Grip Build Surface keeps objects in place during printing, resulting in less warping and curling.
Slotting in between the existing PLA and ABS filaments already on offer is a new Tough PLA. MakerBot says it prints as reliably as PLA, but brings the strength, durability and impact resistance of ABS material, making it perfect for building functional prototypes. While it will be available by itself, the company is bundling three spools of the Tough PLA with the Smart Extruder+, which can be attached to the last generation of printers or used as a spare for the new ones.
On the software side of things, the MakerBot Print and Mobile apps have seen some updates too, adding new features like a Guided Setup to get new users started, native support for CAD files, and deeper settings for individual prints. A new version of Thingiverse, the company's online platform for sharing models and ideas, is also being launched. Thingiverse Education is designed to connect teachers and those using 3D printers in the classroom, to share and remix ideas and lesson plans.
All of these new printers and accessories are available now. The Replicator+ costs US$2,499 while the Mini+ rings in at $1,299, although both are on sale for $1,999 and $999 respectively until the end of October. The Slate Gray Tough PLA Filament Bundle is priced at $379.
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