MakerBot | Let’s Talk about the Smart Extruder

IMPORTANT UPDATE: We’ve seen significant improvements to print quality and reliability with MakerBot Desktop 3.4 and MakerBot Firmware 1.5. If you haven’t already, please download the latest version of MakerBot Desktop and then use it to update your MakerBot Firmware. NOTE: When printing files via the USB port, your printer’s internal storage, or your Library, reprepare (reslice) them through MakerBot Desktop to achieve the best results. Files that are not reprepared (resliced) will not achieve best results.

Let’s Talk
Here at MakerBot, we’ve been heads down, continually iterating and improving on our latest hardware and software. We’ve been busy. We’ve been growing. It’s been exciting.

But we realize we’ve been too focused about what’s ahead and that we haven’t been letting you know about the upcoming features and improvements we’ve been working on, or communicating enough with you about your concerns with our products. We haven’t been responding to your issues fast enough either.

How We’re Going to Do Better
We’re putting fixes in place to help our Support team help you. We’re beefing up our online Support pages so quick answers are easier to find. We’re improving our software and firmware so it will enhance and refresh the capabilities of your MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers and Smart Extruders and make them work better for you. We’ll soon tell you when you can expect these new software releases and what they will contain. And we’ll be talking with you more and more, in every way we can, about what you can expect from MakerBot and our products.

Today, let’s talk about the Smart Extruder.


Why We Made the Smart Extruder
During our five years of conversations, MakerBot customers have identified these key extruder concerns:

–Workflow: When an extruder stops, work stops.
–Time: Customers don’t want to interrupt work to service extruders.
–Wear: Extruders naturally wear out.

The modular, easily swappable MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder addresses these challenges. The Smart Extruder enables you to:

–Minimize downtime.
–Plan ahead for natural wear.

We’re very excited about the possibilities the Smart Extruder design represents. That’s why it’s a central component of our most recent generation of 3D printers. 

Challenges and Tips
However, we’ve heard from some of you that you’re having challenges with your Smart Extruders. As avid 3D printers, we understand the frustration of failed prints and lost time. We get it. So we want to share some of our favorite Smart Extruder features and some helpful tips we’ve learned over the past few months.

Cooling Down and Careful Filament Loading Go a Long Way
To help prevent clogging, always let your printer fully complete the filament loading and unloading procedures. Never remove filament from the Smart Extruder before instructed to do so by your 3D printer’s control panel or MakerBot Desktop.

After finishing a print, your 3D printer cools the Smart Extruder to quickly harden melted filament. Always wait until your Smart Extruder has cooled to 50° C (122° F) before turning off your MakerBot 3D Printer. This process can take a few minutes, but if you turn off your 3D printer before the Smart Extruder is fully cooled, you risk a higher chance of a clog forming.

Smart Sensors Mean More Finished Jobs and Less Waste
The Smart Extruder’s sensors provide real-time feedback to your 3D printer’s motherboard, and MakerBot Desktop and MakerBot Mobile apps, and instantly pause a print when the absence of filament is detected.

These unique sensors save you time by letting you know when you need to change filament, minimizing the risk of losing a print. For example, if you note an issue with filament, you can easily swap out the Smart Extruder and finish your project.


Swapping a Smart Extruder Is Almost Effortless

Powerful magnets help snap your Smart Extruder firmly into place in just seconds. No tools required. If you include the time it takes to load and unload filament, you’re still back to printing in just minutes and your downtime is minimal. This swap-ability will also allow you to quickly adapt to changes (such as new filament materials) in the fast-evolving world of 3D printing.

For helpful Smart Extruder installation tips, see the links at the bottom of this post.

More On The Way
Thanks for your feedback. We’re listening and we’re determined to improve your MakerBot experience. In the coming weeks, we’ll regularly post additional tips and videos about the Smart Extruder and our MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers. And stay tuned for our list of coming software improvements and when you can expect them.

For more details about topics covered in this blog post, follow these links:

MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer
How to install the Smart Extruder
How to unload filament

MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer
How to install the Smart Extruder
How to unload filament

MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printer
How to install the Smart Extruder
How to unload filament