On most of our MakerBot Replicator 2 and 2X 3D printers, we make use of different firmware than comes stock on the printers. The firmware we use is called Sailfish. It is at a glance very similar to MakerBot’s version of the printer firmware but it has several significant differences that we find improve the capabilities of the printers.
The first major feature we make use of is the option to Ditto print on a dual extruder machine. This allows you to print 2 of the same single color object at the same time, which is a great way to double the production of printed items that are smaller than the width between the nozzles.
A second that can be a big help is the ability to override temperatures generated on your Gcode as well as fine-tune them mid-print.Sailfish also allows you to fine-tune your print speed mid-print.
Although it is rare to run into a bug that completely wrecks your print, Sailfish has improved bug handling abilities as well as many bug fixes implemented that MakerBot’s software does not. This means a printer with Sailfish will generally have less issues and when it does have issues be slightly easier to diagnose those issues.
Features that change with Sailfish
One big change with Sailfish is that the leveling script no longer moves the print head for you. This means you can check specific areas more easily and ensure you are level everywhere, the downside is that to quickly level it does take a little longer.
The one big downside to putting Sailfish firmware on your dual extruder machine is that you lose the built in nozzle calibration and must run a print of an SD card to properly align your nozzles. This isn’t too important unless you find yourself constantly working on your hot end and having to run the calibration frequently.
Overall we find Sailfish to be a piece of firmware that provides new features with much more value that the features that it changes and is worth running on almost any Replicator 1, 2 or 2X. It does require a little figuring for how to get it installed the first time you go through it but we feel it is definitely worth the effort. For more details be sure to check out the sailfish installation documentation here: http://www.sailfishfirmware.com/doc/install.html.