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mammoth makerbot 2.jpg

Yes, the one on the far right. Replicator Z18 (via Makerbot)

MakerBot, one of the leading manufacturers of 3D printers, recently announced that it has launched pre-order of its gargantuan Replicator Z18 3D printer, which is the best value for its size and performance, according to MakerBot.


The Replicator Z18 is the “mammoth” of all Makerbot 3D printers, enabling prints that are up to 18 inches tall. The printer sits at 19.4” W x 22.2” D x 33.6” H and weights 90lbs without the accessory kit, with a build volume of 12.0” L x 12.0” W x 18.0” H.


If you’re printing big boy projects, you’ll want to get the accessory kit as well, which allows the printer to hold XL and XXL spools of MakerBot PLA Filament, ensuring large prints without worrying about running out of building material.


This mammoth of a 3D printer offers a built-in camera and MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruders. The unit is based on fifth-generation technology and MakerBot’s updated Replicator 3D Printing Platform technology and supports Ethernet and USB capability with Wi-Fi capability coming this spring. The printer is expected to ship this spring at $6,499.00 without the accessory kit.


The Replicator Z18 also features a 3.5-inch color display that allows the user to view their library and print preview before sending the 3D model to print. MakerBot also announced it will release a free mobile app for the printer that will allow users to manage their prints on-the-go, including mobile printer notifications and updates and remote surveillance via the built-in camera feed.


If you aren’t ready to commit to the Z18, MakerBot also released the fifth-generation of its Replicator Desktop 3D Printer, which includes nearly all the advanced capabilities as the Z18, at less than half the price.


The Replicator Desktop 3D Printer is available for order at $2,899.00. The younger brother of the Z18 has a build volume of 9.9” L x 7.8” W x 5.9” H and also features the Replicator Smart Extruder, motion controller and built-in camera. When the technology is available in the spring, the Desktop 3D Printer is also expected to support the mobile app and Wi-Fi connectivity.



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I just recently built my Printrbot Junior v2 3D printer and have been printing test pieces in order to calibrate the printer. Now that all that is done, and after printing a filament guide to keep my feed line under control I decided it was time to design and build something.


I am attempting to build an Ironman MkIV suit for my son, and the arc reactor in the chest is one of the toy ones which light up and make a noise when you press the front. That was ok, but the lights were pathetic, so I decided to add an array of LEDs to make it brighter. This would involve extending the arc reactor by about 11mm to allow for the installation of a LED torch head (torch shown but can't source them anymore), and a transparent plate made from a CD packing disk. This would allow the original lights to illuminate the reactor when the power to the main LEDs was removed.

Arc1.jpg arcinsides.jpgtorch.jpg LEDS.jpg

So I designed a ring which fitted inside the top and covered the bottom with extension posts for the screws. In the top I added pins to locate in the existing screw holes in the top, and put screw holes in the bottom of the posts for the existing screws. The design was done in Lightwave modeller v8.5 and exported as an STL file. Repetier host flagged some issues with the designed file, so I ran it through the online STL checker at which fixed the problems. I then printed the file in PLA. I wanted to use ABS plastic which is stronger and not so likely to degrade in sunlight, but I have been having so much trouble getting it to print well that I decided to use the PLA and paint it.

extbot.jpg exttop.jpg pinsin.jpgtopfitted.jpg

As you can see, one of the locating pin holes was missed in the 3D print. For some reason when Slic3r sliced the object it filled in the top of the post, but not the bottom where the hole printed fine. But that's ok, I can drill it out.

The extension fitted perfectly in the top, and with just a bit of sanding on the inside of the bottom of the extension  to remove some artefacts and ridges from the printing process, it fitted over the base and the posts seated perfectly with holes lined up with the screw holes.

finished1.jpg poweron.jpginstalled.jpg


So there it is, comments, questions and criticism welcome.

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