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Evaluation of dimensional accuracy and material properties of the MakerBot 3D desktop printer

Garrett W. Melenka (Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Jonathon S. Schofield (Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Michael R. Dawson (Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Edmonton, Canada)
Jason P. Carey (Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 17 August 2015




This paper aims to evaluate the material properties and dimensional accuracy of a MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer.


A design of experiments (DOE) test protocol was applied to determine the effect of the following variables on the material properties of 3D printed part: layer height, per cent infill and print orientation using a MakerBot Replicator 2 printer. Classical laminate plate theory was used to compare results from the DOE experiments with theoretically predicted elastic moduli for the tensile samples. Dimensional accuracy of test samples was also investigated.


DOE results suggest that per cent infill has a significant effect on the longitudinal elastic modulus and ultimate strength of the test specimens, whereas print orientation and layer thickness fail to achieve significance. Dimensional analysis of test specimens shows that the test specimen varied significantly (p < 0.05) from the nominal print dimensions.

Practical implications

Although desktop 3D printers are an attractive manufacturing option to quickly produce functional components, this study suggests that users must be aware of this manufacturing process’ inherent limitations, especially for components requiring high geometric tolerance or specific material properties. Therefore, higher quality 3D printers and more detailed investigation into the MakerBot MakerWare printing settings are recommended if consistent material properties or geometries are required.


Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a rapidly expanding manufacturing method. Initially, 3D printing was used for prototyping, but now this method is being used to create functional final products. In recent years, desktop 3D printers have become commercially available to academics and hobbyists as a means of rapid component manufacturing. Although these desktop printers are able to facilitate reduced manufacturing times, material costs and labor costs, relatively little literature exists to quantify the physical properties of the printed material as well as the dimensional consistency of the printing processes.



Melenka, G.W., Schofield, J.S., Dawson, M.R. and Carey, J.P. (2015), "Evaluation of dimensional accuracy and material properties of the MakerBot 3D desktop printer", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 618-627.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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