The fifth generation of MakerBot Replicator 3D Pprinters is now more functional, convenient, and accurate thanks to the new software and firmware packages released just last month. This desktop software package was developed in response to customer feedback. MakerBot is still working on some additional features, but didn't want to hold up the release date for those items.
Currently, MakerBot Desktop is compatible with Mac OS, Windows 7, and Windows 8. A version compatible with Windows 8.1 is nearing the final stages of development. When upgrading to version 3.4, it's important to also upgrade the printer firmware to version 1.5. Here are the most notable changes you'll want to take advantage of.
Improvements to the MakerBot Print Functions
MakerBot has made improvements to enhance print quality while reducing print time. The new desktop software improves how the three gantry motors work together during the print process for better speed, acceleration, and handling of curves and edges.
Developers also improved how the printers calibrate the z-axis offset. Using the Device Preferences panel, you can now adjust where the build plate is in relation to the Smart Extruder. This improves the print quality of rafts and initial layers. According to MakerBot, some issues like clicking during printing can mean that the build plate is too close to or too far away from the Smart Extruder. Adjusting the z-axis can often eliminate this problem.
Improvements in Networking Capabilities
Corporations have complained about the non-trivial process for using MakerBot software over sizeable networks. Desktop 3.4 solves many of these issues by allowing for assignment of static IP addresses. This makes it much easier for companies depending on larger networks to set up and use the MakerBot software.
Another convenience feature is that MakerBot has eliminated the need to manually confirm jobs on the printer. It works as long as the computer and printer are sharing the same Wi-Fi network. This feature will be especially useful for workers who aren't working in the same room as the printer resides.
New Features for the Onboard Camera
The onboard camera, designed for print monitoring and easy sharing to MakerBot Thingiverse and social networks, can now be used for more useful tasks, including the ability to verify that the build plate is clean before printing. Version 3.4 also allows users to share an object via Thingiverse while it's still sitting on the build plate.
Version 3.4 also allows for more precise printing.
Tips for Improving the Performance of Your MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer
Upon releasing MakerBot Desktop 3.4, developers issued some helpful tips to help users make the most out of their Replicator 3D printers.
- First, make sure to keep the software and firmware updated regularly, as developers are constantly tweaking the product for better functionality and easier use. However, it is recommended that you do not upgrade to firmware version 1.5 until you've upgraded the computer to Desktop 3.4. MakerBot is working on an Auto Update feature for version 3.4, but it is not yet ready for release.
- If you want to achieve a more accurate starting point for the z-axis, try the updated Assisted Leveling procedure. This cuts down the process for finding the z-axis starting point to two steps, and achieves greater accuracy.
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