Well today the Mini finally arrived. Ordered back in late February, but given the problems of the 5th Generation Replicator, I was in no hurry. I know I got a better engineered Smart Extruder module – one way to tell is if the module has a lot of thin fins in the cooling window (just compare to the pics on the marketing pages for the old style).
So I installed MakerBot Desktop 3.1.1 which supposedly has camera and WiFi support, along with the latest firmware for the Mini. Short answer – it doesn’t work. Neither camera nor WiFi works for me and there is no clear explanation. I use WPA2 personal on my router – the WiFi setup procedure seems to work (it sees several WiFi routers in the vicinity), I enter the correct password (no error message after that) but it never shows up on my client list. And as for the camera, nothing there as well.
Auto levelling seems to work – but there appears to be a low spot on the right front of the build plate, as even the PLA raft doesn’t stick to it but warps (gosh, it takes a lot to get warped PLA on blue painters’ tape). Something to investigate or maybe send in a support ticket.
So my first impression? This is still a work in progress as far as the software goes, and perhaps some details of the hardware too. Sorry to say my XYZ Printing DaVinci 1.0 works better at this point and at 40% of the cost.
UPDATE: After two firmware updates and one MakerBot Desktop update, I now have a fully functional Mini. And WiFi and remote monitoring now work too. Still, while I like the package, I think the overall price/performance is not great. Why?
Rafts: love them, hate them, you can’t turn them off. Or at least not without hacking into the software. Thing is, some parts just don’t need a raft – and PLA sticks well to blue painters tape. Which, in my case, has to be two layers thick or my prints (raft included) warp off of the front of the build plate.
Layer height: 200 microns and higher (if you like), but no less. Gosh, this makes small parts. Smaller layer resolution would be nice.
Noise: if you are in the same floor as the Mini in my house you know it is working. And the second floor…
BTW the camera is practically worthless – it is more like a slow security cam feed – once every 8 seconds or so it refreshes.
I have made some quite acceptable parts despite these shortcomings. However, the competition is at MakerBot’s heels and if they are going to survive they need to ramp up the QC (no more unwitting customer beta testing) and features/price point to make me stay with them.