Archive for the ‘3D Printing’ Category

MakerBot Explorers | Lockheed Martin


MakerBot® Desktop 3D Printers empower innovators to turn their ideas into physical objects every day, but it’s not often that those creations reach outer space. That day is coming. When the James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2018, it will carry parts made with the help of a MakerBot® Replicator® 2 Desktop 3D Printer. That’s one small step for MakerBot, and one giant leap for mankind.

A New Generation of Space Telescope 
In 1993, four years after the launch of the Hubble Telescope, NASA began contemplating the next generation of space observatory. Twenty years later, the James Webb Space Telescope has come a long way towards meeting its 2018 launch date, with MakerBot playing a growing role in the development process.

Seeing Through Gas Clouds and Cosmic Dust
The new telescope promises never-before-seen images of our universe using the NIRCam (near-infrared camera), the first space telescope camera optimized for near-infrared light. That means the Webb Telescope will be able to capture infrared wavelengths that cut through cosmic dust and gas clouds. NASA enlisted Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to build the device, and the team at ATC used a MakerBot Replicator 2 to get the job done.

Warp-Speed Prototyping with 3D Printing
John Camp, a former mechanical engineer at ATC, spearheaded the initiative to bring 3D printing into the NIRCam development process. After John acquired his first MakerBot Replicator 2, he was flooded with requests from engineers looking to 3D print parts. “We printed over 250 objects within the first quarter,” said John.

Many of the systems for the Webb Telescope have to go through lengthy cryogenic testing to make sure the machinery holds up in the freezing vacuum of space. MakerBot gave John the ability to test part ideas using 3D printed replicas, while the actual metal components being sent to freezing vacuum of space were put through their paces in a cryogenic test chamber.

Boldly See What No One Has Seen Before
Now that the NIRCam has been completed, the Webb Telescope will begin three years of testing and tweaking at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. Come 2018, we’ll be on the lookout for spectacular new images of our universe as they beam down from the Webb Telescope’s orbit 1.5 million kilometers above Earth.

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MakerBot Explorers | Francis Bitonti’s New Skins


What happens when you combine a forward-thinking designer, inspired students, a couple of MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers, and an experimental new MakerBot filament?

A glimpse of the future.


A Record of Ingenuity Inspires an Inventive Project
Francis Bitonti is a multidisciplinary designer and researcher based in New York City. He’s the founding principal of Francis Bitonti Studio, a firm dedicated to the application of new technologies within design, and one half of the two-man team behind the legendary Dita Von Teese 3D-printed dress. He is among of the growing number of fashion innovators using MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers to create custom designs and wearable technology.


In July, Bitonti led a three-week intensive interdisciplinary research project at Pratt School of Design’s Digital Arts and Humanities Research Center (DAHRC) called New Skins. Students seized a unique opportunity to expand the scope of their skills by working with experts in the fields of fashion, art, architecture and computing to design and fabricate “second skins” for the human body.

MakerBot Steps it Up
To assist with his project, MakerBot provided Bitonti with two Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers and MakerBot Flexible Filament, a polyester-based material that’s coming soon. A MakerBot trainer joined up with DAHRC to provide instruction and support for using the MakerBot Replicator 2 as well as input during the design review.

Throughout the project, students were inspired by anatomical models and explored hidden vectors of the human body to reflect its intricate forms. They worked with a variety of software platforms, including ZBrush, Maya and Rhino, to realize their final design. This video takes us through the students’ experience designing with MakerBot Replicator 2 and MakerBot Flexible Filament.

Voila! The Verlan Dress
As you can see, the elegant Verlan Dress emerged from the project. It was printed on two MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers, mostly with MakerBot Flexible Filament, which is soft, pliable, and moves more naturally with the body. The top portion of the dress is printed in MakerBot PLA Filament.

Bitonti credits much of New Skins’ success with the ability to do rapid prototyping on a MakerBot Replicator 2 as well as having access to the new filament.

“I was pleasantly surprised with how easy the MakerBots were to use,” said Bitonti. “The quality was on par with any industrial 3D printed pieces we have commissioned previously. It was great to have the MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers in the studio. [They] provided the students the ability to have immediate feedback on their designs by printing them during the design process. And using the new flexible material was really essential for us because we needed something that would be able to conform to the body and adapt to it as the body is moving.”

To celebrate the creation of the Verlan Dress, we’ve released the design files on Thingiverse as both Blender and sliced .x3g files for you to modify, print, and assemble as you see fit.

Leading the Charge
Ready-to-wear 3D-printed clothing is fast becoming an influential force in the world of fashion. We’re thrilled that
MakerBot Replicator printers and our next-generation flexible filament are going to take center stage in the fashion shows of the future!


Bintonti_blogpost_bottomimagewithcloseup_0905013(Photo credit: CHRISTRINI. Video credit: Serko Artinian)

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MakerBot Partnership | Amazon

The MakerBot Replicator 2 is coming to! MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers will now be available on Amazon’s recently launched online 3D printing store. As an official reseller of MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers, Amazon will offer a limited number of the top-selling 3D printers later this month.

We are excited to see Amazon embracing 3D printing and devoting an online store to the technology.  To learn more, click here.


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Mechanical Hands From A MakerBot: The Magic Of Robohand

When Richard Van As, a master carpenter in Johannesburg, South Africa, decided to make a set of mechanical fingers, it wasn’t just for fun. He’d lost four of the fingers on his right hand in an unfortunate work accident. For a tradesman like Rich, having a disabled hand is a big professional detriment, so Richard decided on the day of his the incident that he would use the tools available to him to remedy his situation. Watch the inspiring video above to hear how Richard’s project, Robohand, is changing lives with patience, spirit, and a MakerBot Replicator 2.

Getting Started

MakerBot heard about the Robohand project in January 2013. Richard had been trading ideas with Ivan Owen, a collaborator in Washington State, for several months. Ivan used his prior experience with mechanical prop hands to make design suggestions, while Richard attempted to replicate the designs in his workshop.


The process was taking weeks and months per cycle. For us here at MakerBot, that was too much wasted time. We knew our 3D printer, the MakerBot Replicator 2, could take this important work to new heights. We saw their collaboration and the work they were doing as groundbreaking, and we asked Ivan and Richard to accept a donation from us: a MakerBot Replicator 2 for each of them, one in Washington, and another in South Africa.

If the tool was useful to them, we hoped they would share their work on for the world to download. It turns out the MakerBots were incredibly useful, and the guys have followed through on their promise. Just hours after they received their packages from us here in Brooklyn, the two collaborators were sharing files back and forth, testing the design in one place and doing another iteration on the other side of the world. Richard says it took the prototyping process down from weeks to just 20 minutes.

But that’s only half the story.

Giving A Hand

Robohand has grown far beyond the goal of making a set of fingers just for Richard. When the power of desktop 3D printing and MakerBot entered the picture, Richard began to realize how quickly he could refine a design for other people who have lost their fingers, or who were born without fingers. After posting his own story, he received emails and Facebook messages from parents whose children were candidates for a Robohand of their own. One of these children was five-year-old Liam.

The condition Amniotic Band Syndrome is poorly understood, but the effects of it are pretty clear. Children are often born without extremities, especially fingers and toes, when fibrous bands in the womb prevent these parts from developing normally. It’s this condition that caused Liam to be born with no fingers on his right hand. The cost of purchasing a traditional prosthesis was far too much for the family, especially since Liam is a young and fast growing boy who would outgrow a prosthesis in a few months.

Liam was given a Robohand just days after Richard and Ivan received their MakerBots in January, 2013, and he has already been fitted for his second. The word spread, and other kids in the Johannesburg area like Liam with Amniotic Band Syndrome have received their own Robohands, sized just for them. The files, including the assembly instructions, have been posted online at Thingiverse, and they have been downloaded over 3,800 times by people around the globe.

What Is A Robohand?

A Robohand is a set of mechanical fingers that open and close to grasp things based on the motion of the wrist. When the wrist folds and contracts, the cables attaching the fingers to the base structure cause the fingers to curl. Nearly all the parts of a Robohand are 3D printed on MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D printers.

Ivan, who played a big part in the initial design stages of Robohand, says he studied the anatomy of crab legs and human fingers to get the basic muscle and tendon structure. The result is a simple assembly that Richard believes anyone can make themselves. While a full set of prosthetic fingers may cost thousands of dollars, all of the Robohand parts that are made on the MakerBot Replicator 2 add up to roughly a few dollars in material cost, with the total mechanical hand costing around $150 (USD).

Who Needs A Robohand?

Amniotic Band Syndrome affects 1 in 1,200 live births.

About 80% of cases of Amniotic Band Syndrome involve the loss or malformation of fingers and hands.

Finger amputations are the most common amputation in the US, accounting for over 90% of all amputations, according to various reports.

How Do I Get A Robohand?

Robohand was not imagined as a service or a product. Instead, Richard has shared the design files and instructions for creating a Robohand on Thingiverse so that people around the world can download, customize, print, and assemble Robohands for themselves or for others.

So far, we’ve heard stories of Robohands being made for children and adults in the US, Canada, and Thailand. Are you a MakerBot owner who can give this incredible gift to someone in your community?

Get Involved

There’s still a lot to be done. Richard has given hands-on help to a few of the people within his reach, but Robohand needs your help in order to get to the people who need it most.

Want to spread the word? Share this video with your friends on Twitter or Facebook.
Looking to to support the cause? Check out Robohand’s Indiegogo campaign.
Are you an occupational therapist or prosthetist? Leave a comment below!

Make a Robohand

The design files and assembly instructions for Robohand can be found on Thingiverse.

Robohand’s creators would like to empower others around the world to use their files and create and print in 3D Robohands of their own, and they are not in the mechanical hand business. They created Robohand out of the goodness of their heart. Now it’s time to provide the files to the world and see what other good can come from them!

Robohand uses the following tools to make their mechanical hands:

MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer
MakerBot PLA Filament
● Stainless steel hardware
● Thermo-forming orthoplastic
● Elastic bands
● Nylon cable

The full bill of materials is listed here.

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MakerBot And Printcraft Team Up To Bring Thingiverse Support To Minecraft Designed 3D Printable Creations

Ahead of the Maker Faire UK this weekend in Newcastle (April 27/28) Printcraft mastermind Paul Harter has just released his latest version of his Minecraft server with a ton of new features.

Printcraft experience

With over a 100 virtual build platforms on his multi-player Minecraft server, users can claim a build platform and start designing 3D printable objects using standard Minecraft tools and resources. Anyone with a Minecraft account can login to (us) or (Europe) and start creating their own designs.

Printcraft Castle

Once you create your Minecraft creation, place a sign down on the virtual build platform and name your model. Then head over to the signpost and hit the Print button. Your model will be transformed into a standard STL file format and a unique URL will be given to the user to open in a web browser. Visiting the link will allow you to download the file as well as easily upload the 3D design to your Thingiverse account (using our developer API).

Printcraft companion cube

Millions of Minecraft users can now use their design skills in-game to build, share and 3D print their creations. The possibilities are endless and we can’t wait to see what folks share to the MakerBot Thingiverse community.

Printcraft  Castle

Head on over to

and start crafting your own 3D printable designs!

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Keep Corners Flat With MakerWare’s Helper Disks


Here’s a great tip for every MakerBot user: use MakerWare’s Helper Disks to keep the corners of your model from curling up. 

Thingiverse users ctheroux and whpthomas have been great advocates for using Helper Disks, which act like feet on the corners of your model to help keep everything pinned down. When the MakerBot Slicing Engine sees the disks, it treats them as part of the model. Once the print is finished, the disks can be peeled or cut away pretty easily.

Below is a quick step-by-step for using these little lifesavers. Try Helper Disks out and share your experience with us in the comments below or on twitter: @makerbot.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Make Your Own Non-Transitive Dice at Home

YouTube Preview Image

I recently discovered a YouTube channel called “Numberphile” where a documentary filmmaker Brady Haran does a series of short interviews and clips with different mathematicians and physicists about numbers.  Since my short description simply does not do this series justice – please take a few minutes and watch this recent video of theirs about how Richard Feyman defeated every government safe in Los Alamos.

Many of the videos in this series feature James Grime, a mathematician who recently invented a new kind of non-transitive dice as well as several games you can play with them.  That is, several games you can play with them and always win.  Non-transitive dice are designed in such a way that the first die will always tend to beat the second, the second will always tend to beat the third, and the third will always tend to beat the first.  Efron dice designed by American statistician Brad Efron and feature the same “circular pattern of victory” – but with four dice.  Grime dice by Numberphile star Professor James Grime feature five dice which have a similar “circular pattern of victory” with additional interesting properties.

Encouraged by Professor Grime’s infectious enthusiasm, I designed three sets of printable non-transitive dice (three non-transitive dice, four Efron dice, and five Grime dice) which you can print on your MakerBot at home – either as dice where you color in the pips or which you can print with dualstrusion.

By the way, my favorite part from any of these videos is where Professor Grime talks about how he thought up these dice in his mind, and now they occupy a real physical place in the world since he had them created.  This video includes a refrain any Thingiverse citizen is familiar with…  “I made a thing!”

(Also, please don’t use these dice for evil.  Remember that with great power, comes great responsibility.)

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Is It Just Us Or Is The Replicator 2 A 3D Mirror?

A 3D printer MakerBot Replicator 2 produces a sculpture at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover

Hey, we recognize that face!

This Wall Street Journal slide show has a cover photo of a really nice bust being printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2. It’s so good that when we put it on our Facebook page, the MakerBot Sales guys immediately noticed it’s the head of none other than our good friend Alexander Hafner, getting some attention at the CeBIT conference in Germany. The company Hafner’s Büro is a rockstar distributor for MakerBot.

Lookin’ good, Axel!


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MakerBotted Keys; Not Just For Handcuffs Anymore

Okay, we all read about the 3D printed key to open up handcuffs. Let’s shift the conversation, eh? What can a MakerBot do for your personal security?

There is an amazing series of lock mechanisms on Thingiverse, the latest appearing today from ttsalo (at the bottom of this post). A couple months ago, we all benefited from this Pin Tumbler Lock from atartanian. You should know that this lock is based on Thing-O-Fun’s Functional Pin Tumbler Lock Model, but it’s huge, like way bigger than any lock would need to be. Maybe you’re making an Alice in Wonderland playset with giant doors. Who knows?


The notes on the Thingiverse page say that IWorkInPixels plans to upload the OpenSCAD file so that we can make not just this lock, but also custom locks for ourselves.

More recently, user ttsalo in Finland started sharing designs for other locks. Here is one for a Lever Tumbler Lock.


In the video here, you can (just barely) see the bar at the base of the mechanism sliding in and out as the key is turned back and forth. With the right settings, and , that would be a pretty strong lock. Ttsalo didn’t stop there. Here’s a Fully Printable Padlock. On the Thingiverse page, he provides a lot of explanation about how to file and sand down certain elements of the whole mechanism make a fluid mechanism.


And now, for the pièce de résistance — no really, resistance — a Lockbox. What would fit in this? An engagement ring, maybe?



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What’s 3D Printing Got On Traditional Manufacturing?

Here’s a great review of some things that have been made with 3D printing devices, focusing on items that are much easier to achieve with a 3D printer than with traditional manufacturing. The list includes several hot items on Thingiverse. Our friend George Hart also gets a well-deserved shoutout for his impressive trailblazing on machines like The Replicator.

Fantastic mathematical sculpture by George Hart

3D-printed jewelry by Thingiverse user nervoussystem

Screwless Heart Gears and Screwless Cube Gears by Thingiverse user emmett


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