Sparx Engineering is always looking at the the latest advances in 3D printing technology. Recently, the MakerBot team revealed the Replicator 2 as the “the best desktop 3D printer on the market”. Let’s take a closer at that statement and compare against other desktop 3D printers on the market. Resolution and volume are key to making accurate 3D printed objects.
The resolution of the Replicator 2 layer printing is near 100 microns. In the class of Stereolithography (SLA), that’s definitely high resolution on par with high end machines. In comparison, PolyJet / ProJet are around 16 microns build layers. The ZCorp 3D printer used at Sparx has resolution down to 4 microns (not to mention full-color output). The highest end Viper SLA machines are close to 50 microns layers. Now, granted these technologies cost significantly more than the Replicator 2. The Replicator 2 positioning precision of 11 microns is also extremely low for a machine of this price.
The build volume of the Replicator 2 is 410 cubic inches. In comparison, Viper SLA are around 13000 cubic, PolyJet is near 2300 cubic inches, and the rapid prototypes offered through Sparx is 1200 cubic inches. However, these larger volume 3D printing machines are not in the same class of desktop printers as the Replicator 2.
The resolution in combination with increased volume of the Replicator 2 is definitely impressive and worthy of the term “Best” in the desktop 3D printer class. Congrats to the MakerBot team for putting together a high-end machine at a low price.
Crazy update – MakerBot has been bought / merged by Stratasys for over $400mil http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-06-19/makerbot-sells-to-3d-printings-old-guard-for-403m
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