Mk4 to Mk7: We’ve come a long way!

Posted by on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

In the spring of 2010, Shapeways got a Cupcake CNC MakerBot with a MK4 extruder. The cupcake is an amazing machine that got 3000 people started in 3D printing, but the MakerBot MK4 Plastruder’s strong point was not printing small things like bunny ears. Shapeways printed out the Bowie Bunny by Rob Parthoens , which is one of their favorite prints and something that they use to compare machine types. It is a small model and stands about an inch tall from tip of the toes to top of the ears. As you can see in the image above, the MakerBot MK4 print of July 2010 left something to be desired.

At MakerBot, we live by the open source saying, “Release early and often!” and so we’ve been hard at work improving the technology since then. Fast forward a little more than a year and we’ve gone through the MK5, the MK6 and have just launched the MakerBot MK7 Plastruder. Look how much the MakerBot print has improved!

A few things that I noticed:

– When Shapeways printed the Bowie Bunny on their Cupcake CNC in 2010 the MK4 DC motor extruder had difficulty with the ears.  Back then printing tall thin parts on a Cupcake CNC required extremely careful calibration of a lot of arcane settings.  The Shapeways grey robust print from July of 2010 on their industrial commercial printer is clearly the superior print.

– In September 2011 the MakerBot print from a Thing-O-Matic with Generation 4 electronics and a MK7 stepper extruder with a 0.4mm nozzle was able to print Bowie Bunny at a layer height of 0.2mm – with stock settings right out of the box!  When shown side-by-side, the print from the Thing-O-Matic is comparable to the Shapeways commercial printer result.

– While there’s still a little ways to go to improving small features like the areas around the bunny’s ears, we’re looking forward to continuing to improve and develop our software so you can get professional quality results from your DIY printer right in your own home.

The difference from before is remarkable and I’m very proud of how far we’ve come in about a year! Thank you to everyone who has used a MakerBot and helped push it forward. We couldn’t have done this without the contributions of many people both internally who work at MakerBot and every MakerBot Operator in the community that’s given us support, feedback, or jumped in and been innovative. The future is bright. Full speed ahead!

Tagged with , 9 comments

9 Comments so far

  • Duann Scott
    September 28, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Awesome stuff indeed…

    I saw some recent prints when I visited David Chan at the University of South Australia. The quality of prints he was producing were absolutely stunning..

    You guys are doing a fantastic job,

    How soon till we replace the Shapeways Grey Robust with Makerboted parts?

  • Sheila
    September 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Hey there! The comparison is amazing! These have come a really long way since I got to see one in person — congrats!

  • Steve
    September 28, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I have a T-o-M w/ an MK4 that broke twice. I got about 20 hours of printing in total from both DC motors. Instead of continuing to give Makerbot more of my hard earned money for a product I knew would continue to break, I decided to stop printing until they came out with one that looked like it had promise, but then wait for yet another revision because I knew the first would still be awful.

    Well, the MK6 came out and it looked much better, but I knew to hold out for the MK7. I was one of the first to get it apparently, and it was well worth the wait. It actually works really well! Though, in true Makerbot fashion, the instructions were abysmal. But I made my way through them anyway.

    The MK7 with 1.75mm filament is indeed the way to go. Comparing models made by the MK4 with the MK7 side by side is almost comical. As seen above…

  • Marc O.
    September 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    The 2010 Shapeways Gray Robust look much better than the 2011 version. The feet and other feature look much more details in the 2010 version too.

    Maybe it just the angle of the camera and the light reflection.

    Though, I guess it would be nice to have Gray in the color list of ABS…

  • Far
    September 28, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I want to apologize real quick if software had anything to do with the ‘abysmal instructions’ setup. I held up releasing the update ReplicatorG 0026 (with built-in Mk 7 profile of hawt-ness) to do some extra testing and fixes.

    If you want to drop me an email ([email protected]) with how/what/where the instructions fell short, I would be greatful. I’ll that into our ticket system, and get someone working on it, so other people won’t have to share your pain.

    Our R&D team did a rocking job making the Mk7 as smooth and and solid as can be. I’d like to make sure out upgrade/setup is as great as our new prints.

  • neoteric
    September 29, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    This is absolutely amazing. Shapeways spent a lot more for their printer I am sure. The comparison is jaw dropping.

    Very Nice.

  • Florian
    October 5, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    How tall are these bunnies? It’s really hard to grasp the quality without a size comparison?

    Thanks for any infos!

  • mike
    October 26, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    How much of the detail on the ears, etc, is due to the rigidity (or somewhat lack thereof) of the TOM? I’ve been wondering if a combo inside-panel CF layup (vacuum bagged) and corner brackets would help a lot in that space (i.e. quick starts and stops and corners)

  • John
    April 18, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I do N scale (1:144) in size. How big are the bunnies above? If they are of a medium size, the stepping of the layers needs to be smaller and smoother to produce a nice model, or in this scale we can’t use anything like this.


Leave your comment


xhtml: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


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)