A filament producer now offers filament specifically for the new MakerBot equipment.
While a few desktop 3D printer manufacturers have gone the proprietary materials route, MakerBot is one that thankfully has not. However, there’s a catch. The spool holder for the new Replicator+ is embedded within the machine as shown here.
The unit slides up to load a spool and then can be closed during operations.
Technically you can use any 1.75mm PLA plastic filament in the Replicator+, so long as it fits within this spool chamber.
Yes, you could rig up some kind of exterior feeder system that accommodates any size spool, but then you run into this problem:
Nevertheless, some filament producers are willing to develop filament spools that fit precisely into the Replicator+ specifications. One of them is MakeShaper, who announced the availability of such spools this week.
It’s interesting to examine their site, as the filament filter shows this:
“MakerBot” is now a size!
The company offers Replicator+-compatible 220 or 900g spools of PLA in 1.75mm format in twelve fancy colors. While the Purple and Neon Orange look great, I think I’ll stick with Gray.
Pricing is where it gets quite interesting. For the 900g spools, MakeShaper charges USD$24, which is quite a good price. Meanwhile, MakerBot’s online store quotes USD$48 for many colors, and USD$65 for specialty filaments – including Neon Orange!
The question here is whether Replicator+ operators would risk defeating their warranty (and their MakerCare support contract, if they have one) in order to reduce the price of materials by at least half?
For some Replicator+ operators, this would be a non-starter. In a big corporation or institution, for example, invalidating a warranty could be out of the question.
On the other hand, smaller players using the Replicator+ with less bureaucracy – and some bravery – might wish to partake in lower-priced materials, particularly if they print a great deal.
Let’s do some arithmetic here to see how this could work:
A new Replicator+ costs USD$2,499. That’s equal to the savings on 104 spools, if you bought from MakeShaper instead of MakerBot. In other words, if you somehow ruined your Replicator+ while using third-party filament, you would be able to replace it fully. That’s a reasonable amount of filament, many months worth. So in some cases this could make sense.