Setting up a New Extruder

    Why Calibrate?

    Every MakerBot Smart Extruder+/Smart Extruder and 3D printer we send out is tested in our factory, but there may be small variations between individual 3D printers and extruders. If you are connecting a new Smart Extruder+ or Smart Extruder to your MakerBot Replicator Z18 for the first time, you will need to perform some calibration steps to compensate for any differences.

    You should follow these steps before printing whenever you install an extruder for the first time. Once your extruder is set up for a specific MakerBot 3D printer, you can attach and detach it as many times as you like without going through this process again.

    1. Install the Extruder

    Unwrap the Smart Extruder+/Smart Extruder and press it against the back of the extruder carriage, with the connector pins facing the front of the MakerBot Replicator Z18. Magnets will lock the extruder into place. For more information about installation, click here.

    2. Update Firmware

    It's important to always keep your MakerBot 3D printer's firmware up to date. Firmware updates often include improvements to Z-axis homing, and your extruder may not home correctly if you don't have the newest version.

    3. Run the Homing Calibration Script

    It's always a good idea to calibrate the Z-axis offset after updating firmware on a MakerBot Replicator Z18. To do this, navigate to Utilities > Calibration > Z Calibration in MakerBot Print. Then click the Run Z-Homing Calibration button and follow the prompts.

    You can also go into Settings > Calibration on the printer's interface screen.

    4. Start a Print

    Monitor the first layer of your print carefully. If the extruder nozzle scrapes against the build plate, or if you receive a homing error, the extruder is too close to the plate. If the plastic coming out of the extruder doesn't adhere well to the build plate, it is too far from the plate.

    If the extruder is not at the right distance from the build plate, you can correct it by manually adjusting the Z-axis offset.