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MakerBot 5th Generation Printer Review

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  • MakerBot 5th Generation Printer Review

    I have owned a MakerBot 5th Generation printer for about six months, and won a grant for a MakerBot 5th Gen for my classroom approximately six months ago as well.

    At first, both printers worked beautifully. I updated mt personal machine and desktop software with each update, but my classroom machine is not connected to a network, plus we have Windows XP. The classroom machine has the original firmware.

    As time went on, the prints on both machines began to deteriorate. Prior to every print, it was necessary to run the "load filament" function or the extruders would clog. Both extruders have been replaced, and the symptoms continued. I even began to store my home filament in plastic bags with dessicant. It was not necessary to do that in my classroom, as the relative humidity is never over 20% in our building. It was still hit-or-miss regarding the success or failure of each print.

    About two months ago, in desperation, I purchased Simplify 3D, and the prints on the home machine improved dramatically. I also used it to slice classroom prints, and they improved as well. I still had to perform the "load filament" function before every print, but at least the prints were coming out well.

    I began to look at the Makerbot filament, and noticed dimensional variations in the diameter of the filament. I searched online for an alternative, and decided to try Octave filament and it did improve the prints somewhat.

    UPDATE: Since I posted this review, the issues continued with my personal MakerBot. I encountered more frequent failed prints, the need to level the build plate more frequently, extruder errors such as temperature sag and thermocoupler failure. The extruder even popped off during one of the prints. The last time I used the machine, the build plate would not level. During the second stage of the process, the extruder would just tap on the build plate and would stay stuck on that step. On top of all this, I had to try to rescue a model where the raft was stuck to it, and stabbed my hand, ending up in the emergency room. At that point, I had enough, and after an email exchange with MakerBot, the unit went back to them today.

    I plan to replace the unit with a MakerGear machine, produced a few miles from me, very soon. I've already experienced better customer service with MakerGear, and I haven't even purchased anything yet.
    Last edited by legend85; 04-25-2015, 02:52 AM.

  • #2
    After taking the time to ship the machine back to MakerBot, it appears they are reneging on the offer of a refund, and are offering to replace the machine. If you are considering one of these printers, search the web for reviews first.

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    • #3
      Thank you for your review and especially on the update.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the comments. After emailing me stating the replacement machine was approved, they sent a second shipping label. It read "Hey Craig, I submitted a device exchange for you and it was approved. I have provided you with a shipping label as well. I appreciate your patience in the matter. Once we have your device back, we will send you out a new device. Thank you for your patience. Best, XXXX MakerBot Support" I then emailed MakerBot and advised them that I had already sent the printer in. I then called MakerCare asking them to acknowledge that the printer was received. The conversation, much like a visit to the post office, became quite bizarre when the rep told me that the six month warranty applied to units purchased from MakerBot only. I asked him to repeat this, and he did. He then advised that he was going to confirm their receipt of my machine over email. I also advised him that since the approval was already given, that a machine needed to go out on Wednesday, which I think is a reasonable request, given all the confusion surrounding this issue. He told me, in basic MakerBot non-committal speak, that he really couldn't help me with that.

        Minutes later, I received an email stating that they were waiting for approval to replace my machine! I responded, pasting in their previous email stating the replacement was approved. I then received the following: "Hello Craig, The approval process has to go through multiple levels of approval. Once all approvals have been made, your device will be shipped out. Once I have more information on where the approval stands, I will update you." I then asked for clarification, and reminded them that the replacement had already been approved, and have heard nothing since.

        In the mean time, I have things backing up here for a May event, with no commitment from MakerBot about anything.

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        • #5
          That's awful. You'd figure Makerbot, being as big as it is, would have better customer service.

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          • #6
            Customer service is everything (We had to have several meetings at different tiers of management, each requiring approval for me to make this statement).

            Makerbot did take off in a big way, as a lot of other big 3D printer manufacturers. What tends to happen is that certain aspects of the business get prioritised over others. What tends to happen is that some services get left behind or have major legacy issues as they have not be re-developed but are the result of a simple scaling up of processes that worked at the small scale.

            www.idig3dprinting.co.uk Your one stop, 3D printing shop

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            • #7
              Now, they are not responding at all.

              I spent 31 years in the corporate offices of various retailers before I moved to teaching. I've seen incredible customer service, and I have seen situations where there left a lot to be desired. The ones in the latter category ended up scaling back, and some went out of business because of this. The ones who were in tune with their customers made changes to improve the experience. Sometimes it involved surveys, sometimes intercepts and sometimes focus groups. One company I worked for was 70 years old. They made the hard decisions and were able to thrive because of it throughout their history.

              I am a member of the MakerBot Advisory Board, and I have never been asked the hard questions - only things like "What was your last project?" , etc. They have a pipeline to the customer and they don't use it properly.

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              • #8
                After hearing nothing all day, I phoned MakerCare shortly before 6:00 PM this evening. The rep took a few minutes to review my case, and replied< "Yes, this has been approved. I will generate a label and you can send the printer back. Do you need any packing materials?" If it were possible for a human head to explode, mine would have at that point. I explained the entire sequence of events and reminded him that I paid hundreds of dollars extra for MakerCare and all this confusion. He stated that there were "others ahead of me". After a rather lengthy discussion and non-committal hair-splitting responses, he finally agreed to have the printer sent on Friday, and provide tracking information and shipping confirmation by close of business on Friday.

                Let's hope my initial reactions are wrong and he sends the printer out as promised.

                I have been regularly inconvenienced by poor customer service our local post office, our local big blue discount store and our big orange internet/phone/cable provider, but MakerBot takes poor customer service to heights I have never seen before.

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                • #9
                  I'm sorry you've had to deal with this. I hope you do get your printer.

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                  • #10
                    Thank you; I appreciate it. The printer did not go out today, as I predicted.

                    I called MakerCare late in the day, and was told that the director, who had to approve the shipment, didn't show up today. (If I had used that excuse in the corporate world, I would have had my head handed to me.) I advised her that I had an email, which I forwarded yesterday, that stated the replacement had been approved and the promise was made that it would ship out on Wednesday. She proceeded to tell me repeatedly that the process was that a director had to sign off. I asked her why someone would send an email like that, and she replied that I didn't understand the process. I explained to her that I teach technical writing and I know what the email said, and if that was the case when the email was sent, someone had lied. And, as usual, there was no one to escalate the call to, as "everyone was gone."

                    She said the director was going to call on Monday to explain the process. I replied that if the director started doing that, I would hang up - all I want to hear is the printer shipped and an confirmation number, and nothing else.

                    I am dumbfounded over this, and I'm going to be stuck with a new Makerbot. My wife is encouraging me to buy the MakerGear printer and figure out what to do with the MakerBot later. I just don't have the patience to deal with all the MakerBot problems both in my classroom and at home anymore.

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                    • #11
                      Par for the course, the director did not call today. I called about 4:30 PM so I would not hear the excuse of "no one is here." The rep I spoke to said he had some replacements that had not been approved as well. He saw the director in his office, and walked my case and came back with an approval. He said a manager would call shortly after his 5:00 PM meeting ended, and I advised him that all the manager needs is tracking information and confirmation that the printer had shipped. Maintaining MakerBot's perfect score, the manager did not call as promised. The bottom line is the approval means nothing if the printer hasn't shipped.

                      This is absolutely the worst customer service I have received for anything, anytime, anywhere.

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                      • #12
                        Finally received an email today, and a call from a rep, stating the machine was being prepared for shipment. A tracking number was also emailed.

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                        • #13
                          Fingers crossed.

                          Any update?

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                          • #14
                            Thanks. The replacement arrived on Thursday. I decided to work with the machine as shipped - no hacks, alternative filaments, etc., and it has printed flawlessly since Thursday evening. In fact, the quality of the prints has been exceptional compared to the other MakerBots I have been working with - both mine and the ones at the college where my class is based. Maybe the third unit is the charm.

                            In the midst of all this fighting with MakerBot, I did order a MakerGear printer, and it will be ready in about 2-1/2 weeks.

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                            • #15
                              Well good news on the Makerbot. Let us know if anything changes and how the MakerGear goes.

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