ReplicatorG 0037 and MakerBot Replicator Firmware 5.5

    Update Software and Firmware

    This combined software/firmware update brings acceleration, extra slicing engines, new temperature controls and bug fixes. And all you need to do to get started is head over to for your new copy of ReplicatorG.

    Install ReplicatorG 0037

    First, download the new version of ReplicatorG and install it. As usual, has Mac, Windows and Linux versions of the new software. If you're on a Windows or Linux computer, everything you need will come bundled together, but Mac users will have to install Slic3r, one of the slicing engines we've added, separately.

    Install Replicator Firmware 5.3

    Once you're in the new ReplicatorG, you can connect to your bot and follow the instructions on this page to upload the new firmware -- just select 5.5 from the list.

    Run a Test Print

    With any new software install, you should try printing something you've printed before, just to make sure everything is running smoothly. Load up one of the example models from the File menu.

    Upgrade your Skeinforge

    If you're updating ReplicatorG, you may get a warning message when you hit the Generate GCode button. That just means that you have to go into the GCode menu and pick out a GCode generator. If you're using the MakerBot Replicator (Original), you'll probably want to upgrade to Skeinforge 50, which makes a bunch of small improvements across the board. If you have a Cupcake, you might still want to stick with Skeinforge 35, which has the best Cupcake profiles. The default Replicator profiles for Skeinforge 47 & 50 work really well with Thing-O-Matics -- just make sure to leave the Use default start/end GCode box checked. You may notice that there are a couple of new options in the GCode Generator menu -- ignore them for now; we'll come back to them.

    Both Skeinforge 47 and Skeinforge 50 have a brand new Print-O-Matic setting -- you can now change your extruder temperature without having to manually edit your GCode! This is especially handy since you’ll probably want to change your extruder temperature when you print at accelerated feedrates.

    Generate New GCode & Print

    If you want to turn on acceleration, do that now. You can turn acceleration on and off in ReplicatorG's Onboard Preferences menu or by navigating to General Settings in the interface of your MakerBot Replicator. Even if you already have GCode for your model, generate a new version -- some of the bug fixes and cleanup that went into the new firmware will cause prints run from old GCode to form off-center on the platform. Then start printing with your newly updated Replicator. We recommend that you only use GCode generated with ReplicatorG 0037.

    What we Updated


    With regular, non-accelerated firmware, your MakerBot 3D printer goes from 0 mm/s to the feed rate you've entered -- usually 40 mm/s -- instantaneously. That kind of jump in speed is difficult for the motors, and results in a jerking motion -- something you can probably see and hear every time your extruder changes direction. Setting it to higher speeds increases the jerkiness, and if you set your feed rates too high, your MakerBot 3D printer's motors will start skipping, because there are limits to the speeds the motors can reach instantaneously. With acceleration, your MakerBot 3D printer starts at a lower speed and then ramps up to your chosen feed rate, so it can reach much higher speeds. That means that if you set a feedrate of 40 mm/s for both an accelerated print and an unaccelerated one, the accelerated one will actually print slower, because some of the time your extruder will be moving at less than 40 mm/s. But if you're using the 80 mm/s default, accelerated prints will almost always be faster than unaccelerated ones.  Your MakerBot 3D printer should also run more smoothly overall, since it's starting and stopping gradually now -- that means less vibration and less jerkiness.

    Print-O-Matic Settings

    We've put new default settings into Print-O-Matic to work with acceleration. 2.1 The defaults for infill, layer height and number of shells haven't changed, but we've given you much higher feedrates to take advantage of acceleration -- 80 mm/s for the Feedrate (speed while extruding) and 150 mm/s for the Travel Feedrate (speed while not extruding.) Then there's our exciting new Print-O-Matic setting: Print temperature. This is set to 240 C, which is probably higher than your usual setting: when you're printing at high speeds, you have to heat the nozzle more to make up for the fact that plastic is passing through it so much faster than before. Keep that in mind if you're experimenting with higher feed rates -- you might need a higher extrusion temperature, too. We’ve also tried to make it as easy as possible to switch back and forth between accelerated and unaccelerated printing: if you go the Print-O-Matic defaults tab, you’ll see that you have two sets of defaults to choose from: Replicator Defaults and Replicator: Accelerated Defaults.

    Working with Acceleration

    Using acceleration to print faster is pretty exciting, but faster isn't always better. For some models, you’ll get the best results by lowering your feed rate. For fine detail, try bringing it down to 50 mm/s.You may also see slight ripples on the surface of some prints -- if you're seeing that on flat surfaces, try printing that model at a slower speed. Rippling on curves is an effect of turning the extruder at high speeds, and it will go away if you use high resolution models. A high resolution curve has much shallower angle turns, so the mechanical response from turning is much less. Remember, you can always print without acceleration again if you want to. Just turn it off, either through the Onboard Preferences menu in ReplicatorG or by using the menus on your MakerBot Replicator itself.

    Experimental Slicing Engines

    As you saw when you opened up the GCode Generator menu earlier, we have some exciting new experimental slicing engines for you to try out: Miracle-Grue and Slic3r. Miracle-Grue is a new slicing engine we've been working on here at MakerBot, and Slic3r is a slicing engine created by members of the 3D printing community. Both of these slicing engines are experimental -- Miracle-Grue is still in early stages and it's missing some important features, like support, and Slic3r isn’t configured to work with your MakerBot Replicator. Be prepared to do some tinkering to make them work.

    Generating GCode with Miracle-Grue and Slic3r

    The Generate GCode windows for Miracle-Grue and Slic3r are a lot simpler than the Skeinforge ones you're used to -- each one has a single dropdown menu where you can choose a profile. For now, Miracle-Grue has just one profile, while Slic3r lets you choose profiles optimized for faster printing times or higher print quality. Once you've selected a profile, just click Generate GCode. You'll notice that both new slicing engines are a lot faster than Skeinforge. Once you've got your GCode, you can edit or or hit Build to print it, just like you normally would. Happy accelerated printing!

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