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Print Settings - Things to consider before you hit print

Our MakerBot Replicator 2 is optimized for PLA filament use. PLA stands for Polylactic acid, a bioplastic derived from corn. PLA is a hard, strong material with a low rate of thermal expansion.


The other filament commonly used by MakerBot printers is ABS. ABS is short for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. It is tough and somewhat flexible; and expands as it is heated and shrinks as it cools.

It is important to buy the right filament specifically designed for 3D printing, because it needs to be very consistent in diameter. Otherwise, it can result in poor print quality, with some sections too thin and some too thick.

Print Modes are customised sets of recommended print settings. There are three settings available with MakerBot. See below:

Located under the Print Settings cog wheel of the Print Model Panel, you can use the 'Advanced Print Settings' to customise the output for your 3D Print.

Number of Shells refers to the thickness of the exposed outermost layers of the printer model. 2 shells is the normal. Increasing the number of shells creates thicker and stronger walls, but also longer print times.

Infill Density defines the amount of internal support structure inside the 3D print. Generally, the higher the fill density, the stronger the object but also the longer the print time. Standard print infill is 20% and you should never go above 60% or 0% which will make your object hollow.


Sometimes, 3D models have "overhangs" - layers that extend outwards that are usually unsupported over previous layers.


  • "Supports" are usually added and printed to provide scaffolding for overhangs.
  • "Rafts" are also added by default to the 3D model to create an even flatter foundation and increase adhesion to the build plate.

Quality and Layer Height refers to print resolution or print quality and changes the surface quality of a 3D print. There are three options:

  • Low 0.3mm means the layers are thicker, objects print faster, and the surface quality is rougher. 
  • Standard 0.2mm and the recommended equates to 2 sheets of paper thickness 
  • High 0.1mm means the layers are thinner, objects print slower, and the surface is smoother.

The general rule of thumb is: the smaller the layer height, the higher the resolution/quality, but the longer the print time.

Changing the filament colour

Unloading the Old Filament Spool

  1. Use the Makerbot control panel and dial to select Filament > Unload Filament
  2. Wait for the Smart Extruder to heat up (usually to 215 degrees). 
  3. Allow the extruder to unload the filament.
  4. When the extruder has stopped pushing the filament out, gently pull the filament free.
    • NOTE: If you are changing filament spools, be careful to keep the spool tightly wound as you pull the filament free of the guide tube to avoid unraveling or tangles on the spool.
  5. Open the filament drawer by gently pushing down the latch at the back section of the MakerBot and then lift the drawer up until it locks into place. 
  6. Remove the old filament spool from the filament spindle.
  7. Place old filament into plastic zip-lock bags to avoid the filament drying out.

Reloading the Filament Spool 

  1. Open the filament drawer or use the new red filament spool holder at the back of the MakerBot (see image below)
  2. Feed the new filament through the guide tube, leave extra to feed the Smart Extruder and fit the spool onto the filament spindle 
  3. Again use the dial on the MakerBot to select the Filament > Load Filament category on the LCD menu 
  4. Press down on the latch to lower the filament drawer 
  5. Wait for the Smart Extruder to heat up (about 215 degrees). 
  6. Then push the filament into the loading tube in the extruder until you can feel the motor pulling the filament in.
  7. Wait until you see plastic emerging from the extruder nozzle before pressing the control panel dial to finish the filament load process.
  8. The MakerBot is now loaded and ready to print.

For spools that don't fit into the filament drawer, please use the new red filament spool holder located at the back of the MakerBot (see below).

Makerbot Control Panel/ Home screen

  1. Print: Initiate a print stored on a USB drive or internal storage.
  2. Filament: Load filament into or unload filament from the Smart Extruder+/Smart Extruder.
  3. Preheat: Preheat the Smart Extruder+/Smart Extruder.
  4. Settings: Edit printer settings and access tools and diagnostics.
  5. Extruder: View extruder information or attach an extruder.
  6. Info: View your 3D printer’s history and statistics.