If you bought one of MakerBot’s fifth-generation 3D printers only to have trouble running it, you’re not alone. A recently filed class action lawsuit alleges that MakerBot and its parent company Stratasys committed a “fraudulent scheme” by knowingly shipping these Replicator printers with flawed extruders (the part that melts and deposits filament) that tend to clog. Supposedly, management was bragging about rapid growth to investors at the same time it was skimping on quality control and dealing with loads of returns and repairs. By the time MakerBot was starting to lay off workers and otherwise admit that things had gone off the rails, shareholders had lost millions of dollars.
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I bought the Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation because I figured that any 5th generation product has had plenty of time to work out bugs. I have tried several rolls of non-Makerbot PLA and while they all seem to be the right diameter, the printer constantly reports jams. Sometimes I can get a job done with only a few jams and other times, I get the dreaded Error 81 every few seconds. Because other PLA is sold on smaller spools, I have tried various methods to mount them near the top of the printer, taking care to have as low a resistance as possible. I have even wound the other PLA onto Makerbot spools with little success. I don’t understand why these printers are so intolerant to other PLA. It is very expensive for a Canadian to buy Makerbot PLA. In Canada, I can buy a spool of PLA for $30 with no tax and free shipping. Makerbot filament costs $48 US + over $20 shipping and I pay a 30% exchange rate to Canadian dollars. On top of that, they use UPS which directs it to their brokerage. On a shipment of two spools, I just paid $58 in brokerage fees and taxes applied at the border. For the money I paid for this printer ($2800 USD), I find the surface pretty rough, even though I print at the finest settings.