Every printer has its good and bad points. My trusty MakerBot Replicator 2 is a workhorse; it’s fast, quiet, and dependable. However, I’ve never been able to print successfully over the entire build plate. Near the center is okay, but near the edges things tend to peel up or print badly. I know how to level the platform, and I’ve even gotten a glass build plate, but prints are still unreliable for me except for the center region, about 150mm across and 80mm front to back – about 120 square centimeters. Since the Replicator 2’s build plate is 285mm x 153mm – over 430 square centimeters, that’s less than 28% of the build plate area. You can imagine my trepidation about the well-named Replicator Mini’s 100mm x 100mm build plate. If I was only able to print on 28% of that area, I’d be stuck printing things within a 53mm-square area. Here’s how the Mini’s build plate compares with the Replicator 2’s build plate:
The Mini also has its good and bad points. Compared to the Replicator 2 it is currently louder and slower (although I’m told that this should improve with software and firmware updates). But in the plus column, you can actually print to the edge of the build platform! This makes the Mini not so “mini” after all. Here’s the Mini printing sixteen Penny Traps at the same time, at the moment we paused to insert the pennies:
And here are the completed Penny Traps:
Of course the print took forever, but if you set this up before dinnertime and tend to stay up late, then you should be able to put the pennies in right before bed and let the print finish overnight. Teachers, take note: If you’ve got a class of 32 students then you can make enough 3D-printed objects for all of them in just two nights!