Archive for June, 2011

Bre Pettis Interview on Founder Stories

Posted by on Thursday, June 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

Chris Dixon interviews MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis about MakerBot. A great snapshot of where we are to date, where 3D printing is heading, and a great chance for Bre to brag on the incredible army of MakerBot Operators out there in the world who are making everything possible.

Tagged with , , , , , Leave a comment

OpenSCAD Intermediates: Fixing Design Problems

Posted by on Thursday, June 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

In this OpenSCAD tutorial series so far we’ve covered the basics of the OpenSCAD interface, how to make 2D forms, how to make some basic 3D forms, how to position those forms in 3D space, the different ways to combine forms, how to create mashups of one or more existing STL’s and OpenSCAD forms, how to use modules to reuse your code to make your life easier, and how to extrude flat 2D forms into 3D forms1  Although I described the last four tutorials as “intermediate” levels, that’s really only because you learned the basics so quickly from the first few tutorials. With just the basics you can literally design anything you can imagine. The “intermediate” lessons will let you do a little more and make your life a lot easier.

Before we get started, the image is from punkerdood’s OpenSCAD tutorial homework. I’d like to include a picture of your homework next time. So, please practice making something in OpenSCAD, upload it to Thingiverse with an open license, and tag it with “openscadtutorial.”

  • As with any 3D modeling program, you can sometimes get lost or disoriented in OpenSCAD.  These things happen.  Perhaps you accidentally zoomed out too far or in too close and you don’t know know what your point of view is in relation to the object you’re trying to create.  Maybe you created a little object of some kind and can’t see where it is being rendered in the preview screen.  Today’s tutorial is all about how to overcome those problems and get back to designing awesome things.
  • Let’s start with a very simple module and see what happens as we manipulate it with these different methods.
    1. module funkybox()
    2. {
    3. cube(40);
    4. sphere(15);
    5. }
    6. box();
    7. translate([0,0,100]) box();
  • “*” or Disable command
    • The Disable command, “*”, does pretty much as it promises.  Just add that little asterisk before an object, and it will be disabled.  You just won’t see it when previewing (F5) or rendering (F6) an object.  This command will disable an entire subtree.  Really all this means is that it will disable everything right up to the first semicolon.
    • If you add the asterisk at line 3 above, you won’t see the cube.
      1. * cube(40);
    • If you add it before line 4 above, you won’t see the sphere.  If you add it before line 6, you won’t see either.
    • If you can’t find an object you’ve designed, it’s easy to locate it by temporarily disabling other objects until you see where it is.
  • “!” or Root command
    • The Root command, “!”, forces OpenSCAD to ignore everything except the subtree following the root command.
    • If you add the asterisk at line 3 above, you’ll only see the cube as if it were not in a module.
      1. ! cube(40);
    • If you add it before line 4 above, you’ll only see the sphere, as if it were not in a module.  If you add it before line 6, you’ll only see the one instance of the “funkybox();”.
    • This is a good way to isolate just one feature out of an entire OpenSCAD file and focus on it.
  • “%” or Background command
    • The Background command, “%”, draws the subtree that follows it in transparent gray.
    • If you add the percent sign before line 4 above, you’ll still see both instances of the cube, but both will also be a transparent gray.
      1. % cube(40);
    • If you add it before line 4 above, you’ll see both instances of the sphere as transparent.  If you add it before line 6, you’ll see one instance of the “funkybox();” as entirely transparent and the other as normal.
    • This is really useful if you need to manipulate objects within other objects or need to see where two things really intersect.
  • “#” or Debug command
    • The Debug command, “#”, draws the subtree that follows it in a pinkish color.
    • If you add the pound sign before line 4 above, you’ll see both instances of the cube in pink.
      1. # cube(40);
    • If you add it before line 4 above, you’ll see both instances of the sphere as pink.  If you add it before line 6, you’ll see one instance of the “funkybox();” as pink and the other as normal.
    • This is useful if you need to identify just one object from within a lot of similar looking objects.

Homework assignment

Now that you’ve learned how to fix design problems in OpenSCAD, how about showing everyone what you can do?  Please leave a comment below about how you’ve been able to fix a problem using one of the techniques above or by using your own method.  While you’re at it, how about designing something cool and uploading your OpenSCAD file and the STL to Thingiverse?  As always, to make me extra proud be sure and tag it with “openscadtutorial.” As if basking in my affection wasn’t enough, I’ll pick one someone’s OpenSCAD homework and use their designs as part of the next tutorial.

Bonus Section 1: The Tutorials So Far


Bonus Section 2: Other sources

If you like reading ahead or want more information about OpenSCAD, I’ve found these websites to be very helpful.

  1. Official OpenSCAD website
  2. OpenSCAD User’s Manual
  3. OpenSCAD beginner’s tutorial
  4. OpenSCAD tutorial roundup on the Thingiverse blog
  5. Inkscape to OpenSCAD DXF tutorial
  6. Two New OpenSCAD Polygon Tools
  7. How to create a printable sign or logo (Inkscape and OpenSCAD)
  8. OpenSCAD screw libraries by syvwlch and aubenc
  9. Inkscape for OpenSCAD users

Bonus Section 3: What’s next???

The topic of the next tutorial is up to you. What would you like to learn next? Is there something you’d like to learn how to make? Is there something more you’d like to learn about some of the topics we’ve covered?

  1. If you’re wondering why it’s been a while since the last tutorial – it’s because I’m writing these things as I learn OpenSCAD myself.  If you catch up to this tutorial, you’ve caught up with me too! []
Tagged with , , , , , , , 2 comments

Come Fly With Us!

I am really enjoying MakerBot Operator Larsie‘s Small Plane, a re-think of a classic balsa flier. He focused his 3D printing project to just the parts that needed to be 3D printed (the structure, the frame) and then skinned his flier with a light silk paper by hand. He hopes to add a propeller, but at this stage the plane does indeed fly. Success!

I’d like to also point out a few other interesting plane, ornithopter, and quadrocopter projects up on Thingiverse — there are some great scale models, of course, but there are also a number of models you can print out and launch out your window. Or into a window. Or hover around near a window. As there have been such a diverse list of tag terms for these items, I recommend the tag “flight” for those projects meant to, well, get off the ground.

I also look forward to the rest of flight history reaching Thingiverse — 3D printable gondolas for airships would be super cool! (Maybe just grab the conning tower of the great Bathtub U-Boat and get to work?)

Error - could not find Thing 9743.
Error - could not find Thing 7367.
Error - could not find Thing 4812.
Error - could not find Thing 4582.
Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

3D Printed Pinhole Box by LeoM

Posted by on Thursday, June 30, 2011 in Uncategorized
Actual photo from a 3d-printed camera!

Actual photo from a 3d-printed pinhole camera!

Thingiverse user LeoM has accomplished a landmark, and shared his design on Thingiverse.  It’s a fully (ok, almost fully; he sourced a pinhole elsewhere, though I’ve heard you can make one with tinfoil) 3d-printed pinhole camera.  With the photos to prove it!

A lot of us photo nerds are excited about this one of course, but while a 3d printable camera is awfully cool, it hints at even greater things to come.  What other mostly 3d printable assemblies will we have soon?  A handheld vacuum cleaner?  Electric toothbrush?  Wet chemistry auto-analyzer?  All of the above and more?

Well, regardless, please keep the camera designs coming.  Anyone working on a printable design for a 4×5 camera?

Error - could not find Thing 9044.
Tagged with , , , 2 comments

Transformers 3 Review

Posted by on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

View more videos at:

Ok, when NBC called me up to go to see Transformers 3 and review it, I was skeptical, but it was going to be free popcorn and I knew that even if the story was as sketchy as Tron2, I’d still love the visuals.

In the interview I was asked if MakerBot decided to jump tracks from making affordable 3D printers and instead switch to building autonomous transforming robots, how long would that take? In the video, I basically settle on 5 years, but to be honest, we’re living in that future already with such awesome Thingiverse hits as the Cupcake transformer and the Blockbot cube transformer.

I was surprised to find myself enjoying the movie. You have to look past the fact that it is a movie targeted at boys full of gratuitous explosions and the idea of robot war as the defining plot element, but Buzz Aldrin stars in it as Buzz Aldrin which redeems the movie. Also, the 3D effects were good with lots of action on many planes of view in the focal plane. It went on for almost 3 hours, but I got caught up in it and ended up enjoying it as long as I didn’t think to much about the plot.

Tagged with , , One comment

New York Notables Party – This Thursday, June 30th!

Posted by on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

On June 6th a team from MakerBot scanned the head Stephen Colbert and put the 3D model online, but we didn’t stop there. Hackers, bloggers, artists, musicians, comedians and anyone one else we think is notable stopped by our Brooklyn workshop to get immortalized.

Well, the week of the event is upon us! Come see the results, and hear a brief art talk by current artist-in-residence Jonathan Monaghan who performed scanning, digital clean-up, and printing for all of those lovely notable heads.

Thursday June 30th, 2011   7PM-10PM

314 Dean St

Brooklyn, NY 11217

Tagged with , , , , , , , 2 comments

Evolution of a Dump Truck

Tiny Toy Dump Truck by madscifi
Tiny Toy Dump Truck by madscifi

Thingiverse citizen madscifi has designed what is sure to be a classic printable toy – a dump truck.  This one piece print features captive wheels inspired by a toy tanker truck by jag and sports a moveable truck bed.  While a one-piece printable, rolling dump truck with a movable bed is pretty sweet – what really wows me is the photograph of the interim design stages. Madscifi has been kind enough to share his OpenSCAD design files so that everyone else can benefit from his work too!

Okay, who’s up for designing a one-print, captive-wheels, working-hinges transformer?

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , One comment

MAKE Live Features Tips from MakerBot Staff About Creating Time-Lapses

Posted by on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

Ever since the earliest days of the first proto-MakerBots, time-lapse footage has been showing up in videos featuring MakerBots. The reason is obvious: watching a MakerBot print1 is an inherently visually experience, and a time-lapse compresses the entire process of printing into a few minutes like a magic trick.

Last week, Becky and Matt from the MAKE Live invited MakerBot to share behind the scenes tips and tricks for creating time-lapses on their live-streamed show. As I have created many of the recent time-lapses here (posted below), I went on to share my thoughts, and chat with Matt.2


Some Tips I Shared with Matt and Becky

  • You need something that is fixed or moves slowly to “gel” the time lapse.
  • Be careful of auto-exposure and auto-focus, as these kill illusion.
  • Sell realism by simulating camera moves — s-curves and ease in/ease out help give the viewer a cinematic handling feel while direct lines feel kinda mechanical (security cameras).
  • Typically folks add music after the time lapse — but if you pick music you like, you can make adjustments to the time lapse to connect it to (or work against) the music.
  • Shoot a big enough image to give you room for reframing — but make sure the resolution for a tighter shot looks good enough for your needs.
  • Many time lapse/stop motion/intervalometer type tools can be hacked to be queued by something other than time. If you are recording something that changes over time, you can create a tool to trigger the shots that are interesting (motion sensing, tracking, sound sensing, etc).
  • Once you are done shooting, it is like you have a strip of film. You can use any number of batch file renaming or image processing tools to change parts or all of your sequence well before encoding it as video.
  • You can “thin” out your time lapse to have only images doing what you want, and then use a batch file renaming tool to create a new consecutively numbered sequence of images.

What Time-Lapse Videos Are You Watching?

Well, watching time-lapse projects of unboxing/MakerBot assemblies as well as printing and frostruding is always a real treat for me so I wanted to direct you all to take a look at some great videos NOT created by MakerBot and encourage you all to post links in the comments to other great MakerBot-related time-lapses that you have created or encountered in your travels through the Internets.

The above is my currently reigning favorite of the MakerBot kit assembly videos — this one takes advantage of lots of manually triggered time-lapse events as well as tricks to shoot large formats and then re-frame for nice, believable pans and camera moves. Great work!

Another great MakerBot assembly time lapse — the camera position directly above makes this a really fun group build video.

YouTube Preview Image

The above video isn’t a time-lapse, but it is a video showing MakerBot Operator RobertHunt working to update Thingiverse Web Warrior Marty McGuire’s gcode-activated time lapse script for the Thing-O-Matic. With a stepper driven extruder going, the time is prime for slipping your camera automation into the gcode for your print!

  1. or even putting the kit together for the first time []
  2. Doing my best to hold off just talking about MakerBot the whole time, a real temptation! []
Tagged with , , , , , , Leave a comment

Printing Plates

Posted by on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 in Uncategorized
Prusa Mendel Cupcake production files by kliment

Prusa Mendel Cupcake production files by kliment

A “printing plate,” sometimes referred to as a “production plate,” is the practice of organizing the pieces of a multi-part print so that several parts will fit onto a build area.  They help streamline printing and production by reducing the number of separate printing tasks.  Organizing your multi-part print onto plates is a relatively easy design trick for improving your speed of production.  Here are a few tips in case you’re doing this:

  • Draw a square or rectangle the shape of your build platform into the design.  Try to organize your parts onto that square1 and delete the square when done. 2
  • Start by placing the largest piece onto a square, then adding the largest piece you can manage to the plate.  Add as many little pieces as you can around the larger parts.
  • If you are printing slot-together parts, you can safely mirror or flip the pieces.  Once printed, they’ll be functionally identical whether they were printed face-up or face-down.
  • Packing parts together can actually reduce warping and curling.  You may find that the extra parts will either provide apron-like mechanical advantages by holding down corners or thermal walls.
  • If certain parts need to be printed multiple times, put them with other parts that need to be printed multiple times.  In the case of Dino-Girl’s spidersaur, it has two different kinds of legs – four identical long legs and four identical shorter legs.  It also had a body panel and a fang part that needed to be printed twice each.  I created one plate with a long leg, a short leg, and the body panel and another plate with a long leg, short leg, and the fang part.  If you print each of those plates twice, you end up with four long legs, four short legs, two body panels, and two fang parts.
  • Ask for help!  I had a lot of trouble organizing the last five parts onto the fifth printing plate.  I enlisted the help of two other Thingiverse citizens, Syvwlch and Renosis, in organizing this plate.  They each solved it in a nearly identical fashion in far less time than I had spent trying to figure it out.
  • Use a stepper extruder.  If you’re packing parts in closely together, you’re going to want the kind of fine-grain control a MK6 stepper extruder can provide.

What other tips do you have for creating printing plates?

  1. Or rectangle []
  2. Ed of suggests using a matrix of small cubes. []
Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , 4 comments

18″ Stonehenge by 7777773

Posted by on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

Ian Faith: Nigel gave me a drawing that said 18 inches. Now, whether or not he knows the difference between feet and inches is not my problem. I do what I’m told.
David St. Hubbins: But you’re not as confused as him are you. I mean, it’s not your job to be as confused as Nigel.

Even without references to one of the finest films ever made, this would be  a very cool object — a 3d model of a truly interesting piece of early technology, and a physical reminder that, at its best, technology is quite a lot like magic.  Well done then to remember it in one of its most memorable and important appearances, 7777773.  I think this really captures its whole social and cultural significance.

Now, unfortunately, I don’t see any good dwarf models…

Error - could not find Thing 9687.

Tagged with , , 2 comments
What can we help you with today?
I want to chat with Sales.
I have a question about an existing order.
I have a technical question about my device.
Existing Orders
For faster service, enter your order number
(found in your confirmation e-mail)