A Matter of Scales: How Much Can You Print with a Single 1kg Spool?

While we have been hard at work getting our MakerBot Replicators assembled and packed for our imminent shipping launch, several of us have been putting the early prototype Replicators in the office to hard use.

There are a number of questions about plastic and printing that have tickled our imaginations for quite a while — questions easier to answer now thanks to the improved ease of use of our latest machines. The first question we tackled is our most frequently asked one: “How much can you print with a single 1kg MakerBot Spool?”

The answer “Approximately 1kg of printed parts!” is correct, but it isn’t very satisfying. So we looked for a model to help us demonstrate this point more clearly. Being nerds, we figured standard chess pieces are the ideal metric.1

So a couple of weeks ago, Michael Curry grabbed an early Thingiverse chess set from cbiffle as a place to start.2 We skeined up these files as individual pieces, as a cluster of the six uniques, and then just said “heck with it” and went for the whole shebang: an entire side of a chess set in one go. Michael began printing. And printing. And printing. “Surely we can print like over 100 pieces with one spool, right?” I said.

And printing, and printing, and printing. A handwritten sign on the bot read: “Please keep printing chess!” And finally, just this week, the experiment was completed.

Here’s what we learned.

  • A single spool of plastic produces 392 chess pieces.
  • 392 chess pieces makes a little over 12 complete monochromatic chess sets.
  • The MakerBot Replicator ships with two spools — 1kg of Natural ABS and 1kg of Black ABS.
  • MakerBot Operators can print over 24 complete black and white chess sets with the plastic they receive with a new Replicator!

Check out the field of chess produced by the single spool — a MakerBot Replicator with 1kg of plastic absolutely crushes at printing chess!

  1. Because all of us are playing chess every day, right? Well, if only it were true. What does the castle and the beak piece do again? I know what the horsey piece does, it jousts! []
  2. With his kind permission! []