Friday, September 6, 2013

Replacing Thermal Coupler on MakerBot Replicator 2 [non Python nor Network Engineering]

Disclosure: This has nothing to do with Python nor Network Engineering but to help other MakerBot Replicator 2 owners who might be replacing the Thermal Coupler like I had to.

Background and a bit of Rant:

I was really excited when I got my MakerBot Replicator 2 back in June. I took it out of the box, followed all the unboxing instructions really closely, then proceed to set up the machine following the instruction line-by-line to setup the board and stuff.

When I try to print a sample from included SD Card, it gave me an error of 'Temperature Reading Error' and I couldn't proceed. Hum.. ok, that sucks, a little bit of research online yields many results, most of which were solved by turning the printer over, open up the motherboard cage, either strip the cables and re-attach to the motherboard with the screws or just re-attach the cables directly. For a device that cost more than $2,000, the last thing you would expect is having to muck with the motherboard when you first open it up. But I guess you have to do what you need to do. So I did that, it worked for a bit, then it would crap out again. For example, I was able to print the chains example without problem, but it would give the error again on the next project, I would turn the unit over again, re-attach the cables, it would work for 1 project then crap out. Rinse and repeat.

I proceed to open a case with MakerBot support, case 122974. They were nice and ship me the replacement part, and attach the instruction. Unfortunately, the instruction were all in text without pictures. I waited until the replacement came, hoping that it would be self-explainatory. The part came and I was no closer in knowing how to replace the part.

I asked for a bunch of pictures, attach a bunch of pictures, asking a lot of questions, even spoke to Dave over the phone. In the process, I found out that my unit was shipped without the active cooling duct to begin with [I know, WTF, right?]. The support staff, Joseph and Dave, were really nice and helpful, but it still sucks. Long story short, I got both replacements and figured out how to replace both. They are not hard, but really, they need to give you pictures or videos.

Here are the Instructions with my Pictures:

1. Here is a picture of the extruder (the metal head that melts the plastic):

2. You need to unscrew the active cooling duct screws in order to bend back the part that holds the cooling duct, note that I was missing this part all along but did not know until later.

3. Turn the unit to the side so you can see the bottom of the extruder, there were two screws holding the part to the bar. Unscrew them will free up the extruder.

4. Cut the cable tie that is attach to the top of the extruder and peel them off, make sure you did not cut any of the cables.

5. Here is the end that is attached to the extruder.

6. Here is the end that is attached to the motherboard, both cables should attach to the section labeled A and the yellow lead should be at the outer edge.

7. As mentioned, I was also missing the active cooling fan duct. Fortunately, this was just a snap in. These two pictures were from Joseph in MakerBot support.

8. After putting everything together, it works! Whew, all that work. I printed one example from the MakerBot instruction:

Then celebrated by printing Thingiverse Winterfell, This is pretty awesome.

9. And some dudes from Game of Thrones,

Alright, that was it. I hope this help the next guy who had to do this. Despite all this, I am still a fan of the MakerBot unit. I have spent all of my free time watching, learning, and printing the last two days since I fixed the ting.

Happy 3D printing!

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