Got our @MakerBot #Replicator2 working again – yay! My fingers are sore – nay. #edtech

Zen and the Art of Makerbot Maintenance…

I’ve just spent multiple hours over multiple days troubleshooting why our Makerbot Replicator 2 has been printing out curly plastic cotton candy instead of a continuous stream of melted filament. I searched Makerbot’s documents, support forums, Instructables, YouTube, and other sources. In the end, here how I (at least temporarily) solved the problem:

1. Sean Justice is an amazing resource and told me to invest in some vegetable oil. I am taking his 3D fabrication course at Teachers College this semester. I’ve previously taken a photography course with him, and I’d like to take every course he offers. He shared what others have shared with him: The Replicator2 works best with PLA (plant-based) rather than ABS (petroleum-based) filament. PLA doesn’t have any natural lubricants in it, so you should dip the 3-inch end of the filament in oil and load it into the printer frequently and maybe even before each built. This worked amazingly for exactly one build.

2. After much searching, I learned that Makerbot is offering an upgraded drive block for free (!), and you just have to pay for shipping.
Request the parts here: http://store.makerbot.com/extruder-upgrade
Follow the installation instructions here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/downloads.makerbot.com/support/extruder-upgrade/MB1476_Extruder_upgrade_Support.pdf

3. In the meantime, I spent a few hours repetitively playing the unscrew – disassemble – examine – reassemble – tighten game and making sure everything was free of filament shards and well-greased. Finally, I adjusted the plunger inside the original drive block and it’s printing really well again. Yay!

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