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Makerbot aims to fix the one big problem with its 3D printers

The extruder is a 3D printer’s most crucial component, but it’s also a part that wears out with use and needs to be replaced often. That’s why MakerBot just released the brand new Smart Extruder+, with a promise of “better print performance over a longer period of time” that should satisfy even the most active makers.

Smart Extruder+ is a swappable extruder head that is compatible with fifth-generation MakerBot 3D printers. With frequent use or extended ownership, extruders tend to be the first part of a 3D printer to make it to the parts graveyard. The Smart Extruder+ brings enhanced thermal management to the game, as well as an extended PTFE tube (the part that feeds PLA filament into the printer’s nozzle), the company claims. With the new extruder, print start up and the build plate leveling process that allows for printer calibration are both faster.

Smart Extruder+ also features an enhanced sensor system that can keep makers up to date on print progress by communicating with MakerBot Desktop and MakerBot Mobile apps.

Related: MakerBot Replicator (5th Gen) review

MakerBot and parent company Stratasys conducted 160,000 cumulative testing hours on the Smart Extruder+, they claim. That works out to about 18 years, all made up of 5,800 total prints on various fifth-gen MakerBot machines. Throughout the extensive testing phase, the Smart Extruder+ performed reliably for over 700 hours on a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D printer. Over 90 percent of Smart Extruder+ units printed successfully beyond 1,200 of print time, according to MakerBot.

With so many promises boasting the higher performance and enhanced reliability of the new extruder, it’s promising that MakerBot has extended its warranty to back these claims. Past MakerBot warranties have lasted for three-month periods; the warranty on the Smart Extruder+ is six months. The new Smart Extruder+ will cost $199, but current owners of MakerBot’s fifth-gen 3D printers can get the new extruder for $99 for a limited time. New customers purchasing Fifth Generation 3D printers can also get the $99 deal on the Smart Extruder+.