Using the Makerbot Experimental Extruder

Experimental Extruder

The NExT Lab is home to two Makerbot Labs Experimental Extruders which can be used to print using Custom Materials. Check out some of its uses here.

Book a consultation with us to discuss using the Experimental Extruders for your projects!

Please note that as this is an experimental product, experimenting is a part of the process and there are different design considerations!

Custom/Specialty Materials

We recommend the use of PLA-based materials (diameter 1.75mm) from ColorFabb and FormFutura. These materials contain a filling additive to them such as wood and metals. Some vendors that you can visit are:

Come in and talk with us if you have any questions about other materials. Unfortunately, we are unable to process requests using flexible filaments. Book a consultation if you would like a more in depth chat.

Other Capabilities

The Experimental Extruder is also capable of printing with a draft nozzle. Essentially, a nozzle diameter of 0.8mm or larger is used. This speeds up prints significantly and can produce prints with an interesting texture.

Design Considerations

Nozzle Diameter

Special filaments such as ColorFabb require the use of a stainless steel (abrasion-resistant) nozzle. This nozzle is slightly larger than usual: 0.6 mm in diameter compared to 0.4 mm.

Filled filaments contain the filler particles (wood, brass, etc.). These have a tendency to get stuck in 0.4mm nozzles and results in nozzle clogs and jams. 0.6mm diameter nozzles are more suitable here.

With this in mind, roof and floor thicknesses should be changed to multiples of 0.6 mm (1.8 mm is ideal)


With many filled PLA material, the bond between the plastic as it is deposited tends to be weaker than pure PLA. As a result, many filled filament prints can be more brittle. For this reason, we recommend printing with the following settings:


Infill Density


Support Material

3 shells are recommended to create less fragile parts

A minimum infill density of 20% is recommended.

Overhangs should not exceed 50° as filled filaments tend to be less successful in this category.

Where possible, avoid support materials as support structures produced by special materials may be unpredictable (too strong/weak, poor adhesion)

Job Processing

When processing jobs using the experimental extruder:

  • a $10.00 flat fee is charged per print.

  • 8 hour restrictions are still in place

  • Students will provide their own material.

  • We will require some extra material to test custom settings.

Custom Settings are available for download here:

Last updated