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Makerbot or Ultimaker thought needed

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    Makerbot or Ultimaker thought needed

    Hi All,

    New to the site but not the additive world as I have been working in the commercial space for about 10 years now.

    I would like some opinions on two of the starter systems out there, Makerbot and Ultimaker. I am leading a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) effort for our elementary school and have narrowed my choice of machines to these two (mostly for safety and ease of use).

    My question is do I go with one of these: Replicator 5th Gen or Ultimaker 2?
    Or do I get two of the small units Replicator Mini or (soon to be released) Ultimaker 2 Go?

    I am not concerned with the build plate size as being for the elementary school the thought would be for the kids to get their hands on the technology so the mini platform build size would suffice. I am just not sure if the system quality would be there on the small units. Anyone have experience with either?


    I have an Ultimaker Original+, and I am very pleased. It's less than a Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation, has a larger print size and it also has finer print quality. Ultimakers don't have fancy parts that the Makerbot has (such as the onboard camera and the smart extruder) but none of those are really necessary. The printer itself is more primitive than a Makerbot but it was made to be fixed and upgraded. I fully recommend any Ultimaker model.


      The Design Spot at the Sacramento Public Library's Arcade branch has a 5th Gen Makerbot Replicator and I would suggest staying away from any of the units that use their Smart Extruder. They've had it about six months now and gone through three extruders just trying to keep it working. It frequently stops during the print process due to either thinking that the filament is jammed or it believes it is out of filament. I have looked at the insides of the Smart Extruder and think there's too long a space between the feed gear and hotend, too many things inside it that have to be perfect to have good filament feed. Using the hotend as part of the auto-leveling means more moving parts to cause pinch points for the filament. Compared with the older Replicator 2 printers, the 5th Gen was a downgrade. Who wants to fuss with their print every 20 minutes? This also can cause print quality issues if you don't respond immediately since the bond between the cool part and the next layer will be weaker and possible splitting at that layer. I've only heard good things about the Ultimakers.