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Asked — Edited

Makerbot Clones

I think it's probably about time I tried printing some of the 3D parts I've been creating for the last couple of years (there are a fair few of them, I just hit a big milestone with the number of "things" I've created) so it's time to look at 3D printer options.

There's no way in hell I'm about to be able to afford a Makerbot Replicator 5th Gen since over here they are a minimum of 2,000 + VAT (20%) + Shipping so we are looking at around 2,500 ($3,800) if not more - now you know why I'm hesitant about 3D printing!

Makerbot "clones" on the other hand are a great deal less expensive. I appreciate that the components and construction will be lesser quality than the official Makerbots however we are looking at a 2,000 difference so the clones are extremely tempting (although only from a source which comes with great feedback and support, so probably more like 1,500 difference)

But I'm not naive enough to believe a clone is as good as the real thing so am reaching out to anyone who has experience in using the clones for any advice.

Yes, a makerbot would be the wiser choice but not for one who cannot drop 2,500 on concepts which may never have any return on them at all.

Alternatively, I have the option of the following 3D printers which do fall close to my price bracket...

Cube (2nd Generation) - 140x140x140 print area, 200 micron finest print. XYZprinting da Vinci 1.0 - 200x200x200 print area but stuck using their filament (unless "the people" did find a hack). 100 micron is finest print.

The da Vinci is the one which is tempting me most, especially if that hack is available (I'll search soon). But at 20% of the price of a MB Rep 5th Gen it's screaming out that either MB are darn expensive or it's not going to be much more than a paperweight.

Help... stress (Ideally by saying "I have a da Vinci 1.0 and it's awesome once you do this and that and tweak this")


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I have the FlashForge Creator dual head printer (2 years old now) I don't do a lot of printing but it does OK. Of course there are tweaks that can be done to get better performance and prints but this is common with all the 3D printers.


Haha , You probably have enough credit to trade for a machine !

@Rich , I can understand the high cost of these printers (mine are still on payments) however to weight in, I take part in prop maker groups where 3d printing is the most used tool in the toolbox. I have seen great results from Makerbot clones. They even go as far as using Makerbot software as an option. Solidoodles are still a no go , dont invest in something you haven't seen any product from. The DREMEL printers have brought down the price of descent printers and dremels production model is from flashforge Designs. 1000 dollars from home depot. The Makerbot clones are even cheaper though.

The top performing clones are second best , CTC 3d printers http://m.ebay.com/itm/201222949277?nav=SEARCH

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Best- Wanhao 3d Printers 650 plus shipping


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The replica and custom prob community has found great results with these knock off printers.


@jstarne1, i am curious way you say soildoodle is a no go? i not an expert by no means, but i own a soildoodle 4 and can print 8x8x8 and have printed 2 and half inmoov's with out any real issues. i believe the the guy who started the company worked at MB. i would like to have a bigger build though. And at the time could not aford more. Mho


Hello merne, Maybe you got lucky with your printer. After seeing so many others results and my own I stay away. The guy who made solidoodle was a Makerbot design partner in the Brooklyn original manufacturing facility. He says in a video he started solidoodle because he didn't like how Makerbot was taking things to the next level with the replicator 2 because the price doubled and he wanted 3d printers to be cheap. Ironically he consistently has raised his printers prices over time the longer he is in business. Anyways, Overhangs are the kryptonite of a solidoodle , plus warping on large parts. I went through 2 solidoodle printers. I documented my issues and what I did per the recommendation of solidoodle and in the end half my prints came out horrible and the half that didn't were poorly adhered together during the print processes so objects could be easily crumbled up by hand. After 2 tries with the machine and doing all the company asked to fix the issue it still never measured up to other printers. Second gripe is solidoodle requires a pc to be connected at all times which means you shouldn't do anything else with that pc at the same time or you risk Repetier software freezing and loosing your print progress. Obviously dedicating a pc to a printer makes the cost practically double and means your spending much more on a power bill as well. I have other friends that make props and have used solidoodles printers with some success but their results are never anything they are proud to take a up close high resolution picture of and they are completely ok with manually finishing every piece. Most who go cheap do CTC or Wanhao with great results , strong and smooth parts.

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Thanks Josh, lots of good stuff there:)

@DJ I would sell it but I don't have much left, I've spent over 80% of it:D

I have found that the XYZ Da Vinci does have a few hacks to make life easier. Such as it can print gcode rather than their own junk and the ABS filament cartridges can be refilled if you reset the onboard chip which doesn't look difficult.

At less than £500 it's looking like it may be worth a shot. Reviews are largely good too (better than the MB Rep 5th Gen that's for sure - I didn't know just how many bad reviews that thing had got!).


Just my 2 cents.... I have a Flashforge Creater Pro (Makerbot clone that can print ABS as it has a HBP) and an UP! Plus 2.... The flashforge with 3dSimplify software have been really awesome. You have so much control over your prints... The UP! uses it's own software that you download for free. The UP! is also awesome and really does work practically out of the box.... You don't have to do much fussing with the UP!... The drawback is the up has a smallish build area... 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.2 or something like that. The up has a 1 year warrantee..... Both can use 3rd party filaments which I find very important because of serious cost savings....

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Thanks. I'll check out the flashforger one as a MB clone (or MB) is the ideal choice as (at least here) they are proven to work well once set up right, but price and reliability are the two most important factors.

I did find that PrintMe 3D (who I believe are a member of this very community) do a rental service which is structured in such a way that if I chose to buy it I wouldn't pay any more for it than the retail price - I may be dropping them an email, that'll at least take some of the load off of the financials.

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I've been looking at the Velleman K8400 kit printer, it seems to have a very good Spec, and very good reviews, and a huge improvement on the K8200 kit.

I also like it as its a Kit and would enjoy building it has well. :)

Seen some sites in Germany that are doing it for about £500 with £27 shipping costs.

In the UK, you can get it for £540 plus delivery.


I've been tempted.

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Yeah $1000 in the US. Over here we aren't luck enough to have prices that low.

A clone is about £400. A real thing is about £2500. What I've read about MB does not justify a £2100 cost difference to be honest.

Although thanks for the info on the 4th gen. I read some disturbing comments about the 5th earlier (extruder isn't user serviceable and MB recommend buying a spare "just in case"). I'll look towards the 4th gen but I have to be honest, clones or the da vinci is edging ahead.

Ideally I'd like to hear from someone who has a clone and has used both clone and real MB and can give a justified opinion on it.

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I think I found one which has some good and honest reviews (not the usual "this is awesome" reviews the manufacturers leave for themselves) but is cheap enough to not put too much of a dent in the bank balance. If nothing else it should be enough to see if my ideas and concepts are worth taking further.

So now to save like mad and make a little space for it:)


@Rich... so which one was it... Was it the Da Vinci?

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No, it's a makerbot clone, built using makerbot open source blaa blaa... Pretty much the same as the others like the flashforge and the ingeniously named "3d printer".

Cheaper than the Da Vinci too and comes with 60 day return policy so if it does turn out to be a large metal paper weight it can go back at only cost of shipping and probably the 1kg of ABS (or PLA if I decide to go for PLA) that I'll have opened and used.

Having just dropped £1,300 on car maintenance ;ast month and dropping about £500 on art supplies the month before (I have a lot of strings on my bow, robots aren't the only thing I play with) I need to recover from that but once I see the buffer is back (the smallish amount of cash I like to have in the bank in case of emergencies) the credit card will be coming out and the nights of stressing over failed prints and setting it up will begin.

I am going against everything I say mind you. I made the mistake of buying cheap before and paid the price. But sometimes risks pay off.


Look at it this way... print as much as you can up until 60 days... If it is doing fine by then... then it may be worth keeping. If it bricks itself, send it back... Be prepared for a lot of tweaking... Prints will get better as time goes on. I learned one thing. There is no need to print at the highest possible resolution... Personally I can't tell 200 microns from 250... However the at 250 microns it finishes prints quite a bit sooner....


It's likely a CTC then , they put the "3d printer" tag on the front of the build platform where Makerbot would normally go.


I can speak to:

MakerGear M2 $1800.

Then if you need a decent less than $1000 go with the Robo 3D R1 @ $800 and do the suggested upgrades (cheap). You can a nice big LCD screen for under $75.

Next in line would be the Dremel @ $1000.

If you need really cheap, I would go with the Printrbot Metal @ $600.

ALL printers have their quirks and suggested tweaks. I would highly recommend spending $140 on Simplify3D software.


I have the Arduino Materia 101 and print using ABS Very happy with it.

Use OpenScad and Cura slicer, there both open source.


One year later, how are people doing with their CTC/3D Printer/Makerbot clones?

I saw one on eBay with dual extruders for a lowly $400 including touchpad, supposedly stand-alone printing, supposedly heated base. That seems like a lot of features and functionality for just $400, but I suppose that's the power of large scale production in a low-cost country: stuff gets affordable.

Anyway my apologies for "re-opening" an old thread, however, I think it's still a valid topic. Also, I'm curious to hear what people are printing with 1 year on, was going cheap a bad idea? Did your models crumble away? Etc.


I'm a year out from buying a DaVinci 1.0. It would be nice to buy filament from anywhere, but on the plus side my filament is consistent in quality. I've printed many parts, learned a lot. I think it's great! I've really only had one jam in the year and 2 misprints where filament did not want to stick to the surface (my fault).

Just this month I bought Simplify3D software and it really opened up my world...it makes printing sooo much easier to print under it's software. I highly recommend that software.

I also just bought an XYZ 3D handheld scanner (it has the intel 3d camera in it), and I do like it. 3D scanning is not as straight forward as one would hope, it takes tweaking and like with 3D printing the more I do with it the more I'll learn.

In the future I want to get a printer that I can swap heads outs so I can print in any filament: like flexable, pla, wood, etc and a dual head extruder. I like the idea of swapping the heads out with ones for specific purposes because I don't like the idea clogged print heads. :-)


I think opening the discussion on finding a good printer is always good, if not just to check what happened over time....things tend to evolve I guess! :D

I started my first little project and had it printed by Shapeways, just to check if I can get all the measurements right and to get a feel for the material that they are using...it was not really expensive and the quality is really good!

Of course for bigger projects this is not an option, so lets see how long it will take until I will start looking for a printer....for now Shapeways seems to be a good option!:)


Yeah i struggled with 3d scanning a few times. ARC a few years ago had a 3d scanner for kinect built in - but it was so unreliable that i couldn't promote it and it was therefore removed.

It's so easy to use CAD design software that 3d scanning doesn't make sense for the effort.

Mickey, how expensive is "not really expensive"? I had submitted some samples a few years ago and was blown away with the price of $200 - $300! I can buy a makerbot replicator 2 used for $500...

I really like the replicator 2 - however, maintenance is a little frustrating if you're not familiar with the problem symptoms.



This is my review of the FlashForge Creator Pro. It works but it too has some maintenance concerns and some faulty design due to the wires that are used. I have printed a lot with it (about 50 spools) and it works well if you get to know it and are willing to replace some wiring that wears out. Also, using the $25.00 filament tends to cause clogs in the nozzles after about 15 to 25 KG of printing. It is much easier just to replace the print head assembly than to try to replace the nozzles.

I also suggest Simplify3D with it. It will make things go a lot better with slicing and printing.


Yeah the 3D scanning thing using a Kinect was a fun thing, but for modeling or even printing it is just too messy...any CAD software will do a way better job, the scanning could give you a good approximation but will need a lot of tedious cleanup anyways, so it is better to just stay in your CAD environment and build it there!:)

I printed a model that was 8cm by 8cm which was 0.8cm deep plus a small inlet to check if I can fit it in...the printing was done in white polished nylon and had no flaws, all the measures were fitting perfect!

At Shapeways I payed 20 in the end, I could have even got it cheaper if I would have had the patience to wait longer for it to be printed!

So I guess for any small object this is quiet a good deal, or you could use this for an option to get stuff printed in different materials that your printer cannot handle!

I will check the FlashForge Creator Pro link too, I might at a point also want to have the option to print at home!:D


Seems like having a 3D printer is not really a plug&play thing....and you would have to do a lot of research finding the right one!

I was thinking of a step by step solution where I would first just deal with the construction of the robot and get the parts printed elsewhere, so I dont have too many loose ends to worry about....my robot will not be an InMoov it will probably be way smaller than the JD if I can get if done, so I hope printing cost will not skyrocket!;)


3D printing is its own beast that you have to tame before parts come out like you want them to. If the robot is small, you might check out the UP printers. There are a few people around here that have had really good success with them.

Once you get into 3D printing, you soon find yourself designing your own stuff which takes it to a completely different level of fun.

If you are looking to print a single small item, services are much cheaper in the long run. If you decide to make multiple items it quickly becomes cheaper to buy your own printer. I couldn't even begin to imagine what a service would have charged for all of the 3D printing that I have done over the past year and a half. I suspect that it would be more than the ~$2500 that I have spent on printers and filament though.


there isn't a common opinion which printer is affordable, easy to use, trouble less, etc...

so my only solution is an online service...

  1. can someone recommend a service ?

  2. I would like to print DJ's new EZ-BIT, i had some issues before the printed parts (clips) not fitting, did happen to someone else too ?


As I said Shapeways worked fine for me...was by far the cheapest online service! I will work with them for now, I might check other options too, but they seem to have a good service and a nice variety of materials to choose from!

I would love to have a printer too, but I am kind of scared to invest in the wrong one....I might have to do a bit of research soon!

@CochranRobotics my aim is definitely to create my own robot, that was what exited me when I found EZ-Robot, I am still a little unsure about the different data formats and am kind of scared to miss some open edges or flip some verts buts I guess I can tackle the beast!



Auto-spell check error. Shapeways is what he meant.



Hahaha...thanks Alan, was actually my brain on auto pilot!:D

Would be kinda cool though if you could shop your 3D prints at Safeways...lets just wait a couple of years!;)


Some Staples office supply stores have 3D printers, so yes, it probably won't be long before this is much easier and cheaper. And of course the home machines are getting more reliable and eventually will just be another appliance.



I had a DaVinci, It worked well for almost three years. I was limited to there filament and I didn't like that, so I got the reseter. It didn't always work properly. I finally flashed it with Repetier as I saw on you tube. I was able to use any filament brand. You just have to set the settings properly. Lots of tinkering to find what works best for you. I also had a CTC printer. It worked good as well. But I ran into a lot of problems after about a year, with broken wires , and spent a lot of time upgrading it. Nothing hard to do, but time consuming. Also the print bed is smaller than a Replicator 2. I also tried an i3 Prusa. It's simpler when it comes to repairs, everything is at hand, and in the open. I got great prints at first, but after only a few long prints, it isn't printing very well. Only had it about 2 months and hardly used it. I was able to get a makerbot 5th cheap on E-Bay. I've gotten some great prints from it. However, I have also ran into problems with filament jams, ( which I was able to find the cure for from Makerbot) and problems with the base layer coming out very rough, ( haven't cured this yet). All in all, It hasn't been a bad printer, and prints larger that the Davinci. It is noisy though. Also, it is recommended to use PLA filament only, on the 5th. You can print in ABS, but it doesn't have a heater bed. The Davinci, was much quieter. As an entry level printer, it was great. It is a large machine size wise. I recommend it as a beginner unit, if you have the space to put it. Otherwise the CTC was a good starter and cheap as well.


I saw a printer at a trade show. It was just a robot arm, but you could change the things on the end of the arm. It started with a wrist and hand and wound up a 3D printer. The things were changed again and it was a Laser cutter. It was also an engraver, Drill, and other tools. It was in one of these kick-starters. But it was Amazing! And, it was reasonably priced.


Actually the makerbot is also based on an opensource platform. No one actually owns an opensource platform and can improve on it however they like, that is the whole idea. I have worked with the Makerbot Replicator extensively and the heated platform is a pain to work with. There are tons of curling and require constant adjustments to keep model from turning into scraps.

If Mbot’s claim that it fixed the curling issue and is able to print at max volume without issue at such a low price, it is a huge improvement on the Makerbot’s replicator. If the claims can be verify by reputable sources, Mbot then deserves much more media coverage and praises.