Archive for the ‘Digital Design’ Category

MakerBot Partnerships | Exciting news about our partnership with The Foundry


Seamless 3D design and printing just got one step closer.
Back in April, we announced a partnership with The Foundry to streamline the workflow between its powerful new MODO 801 3D modeling, animation, visual effects and rendering software package and the MakerBot Replicator 3D printing platform.

We’re proud to announce the next milestone in our partnership with the introduction of the MakerBot Kit for MODO. With the MakerBot Kit, you create and edit designs using MODO 801 and publish them directly to Thingiverse, or privately using the MakerBot Cloud Library, all from within MODO.


Tomasz Lechociński,


You can access your designs in your MakerBot Cloud Library using MakerBot Desktop, MakerBot PrintShop, or MakerBot Mobile. You can also directly upload and manage versions on Thingiverse, as the kit also supports .THING files (the container format native to MakerBot Desktop which can hold multiple .STL or .OBJ files and allows you to retain information such as scale of placement on your build plate).

Why use the MakerBot Kit for MODO 801 for 3D printing?
–Get the shape you want in minutes thanks to simple, yet powerful 3D object and surface modeling tools wrapped in an artist friendly workflow.
–Easily export to a watertight mesh in the STL format for easy 3D printing.
–Use a variety of modeling methodologies — from standard mesh construction to brush-based fluid sculpting.
–Clean up and modify data scanned with a MakerBot Digitizer in a streamlined modeling environment.

We’re not done yet.
We’re still hard at work finding new ways to integrate the MakerBot Replicator 3D Printing platform with MODO 801 and put seamless 3D design and printing into the hands of artists and designers at every level. Stay tuned for more.

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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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Step-By-Step For 123D Creature


Our designers have gotten to take a closer look at the new 123D Creature app from Autodesk and are churning out some really great stuff.

Essentially what we have now is a tool to sculpt any kind of figure on a screen, export it, and make it on a MakerBot. How you use the app is up to you and your imagination, but we thought we’d offer you guys a step-by-step of the workflow once you have your design. Click below to see all the steps, and please, for the love of monsters, leave comments and tell everyone your own tips.

Before you go through these steps, you’ll want to have MeshMixer and netfabb running on your computer.

Read the rest of this entry »

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New Dual Extrusion Test Prints

MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printers have started shipping, so let’s talk a little bit about what some of you are about to get in the mail. In particular, there’s an SD card that you won’t want to miss and we want you to know that you can expect two boxes in the mail.

The SD card in a new MakerBot always has a set of objects that we love to make. They also serve as great test prints for you while you get started. In the case of the MakerBot Replicator 2X, we’ve added some pretty cool dual extrusion models to the regular list: Pet monster Valentine by Andreas; Traffic Cone by CocoNut; MakerBot Cupcake by MakerBot; MakerBot Pendant by MakerBot.

We made the MakerBot Replicator 2X as an experimental 3D printer, and dual extrusion will not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done because printing in two colors simultaneously on a MakerBot is still experimental. It’s come a long way since we launched the original Replicator, but you’ll still see some artifacts in dual extrusion prints.

Check out the images below and remember that we are continually improving our software and hardware, and the number one thing you can do to ensure you have the best MakerBot experience is to stay up-to-date with new MakerWare and Firmware releases.


Here you can see what we call a deposit. It happens during the last 1% of a print cycle when it switches colors and when it happens, an extra amount of heated ABS is extruded on the top of your model. You can remove these pretty easily, but doing so may affect the appearance of your print.


These lines on the side of your object, which we call zippers, will always be vertical. That’s because they occur at the transition point from one layer to the next. Sometimes they are a little rough, and sometimes smooth. Any small nodules can be removed, but again, doing so may affect the appearance of your print.

We’ve worked hard to minimize these artifacts and we’ll keep working on minimizing them. As a purchaser of an experimental printer, you’re on the adventure with us and we can’t wait to see what you’ll make. Please share all your thoughts and feedback (there’s been a ton already!) through our general feedback line, [email protected]. Also, when you share your models on Thingiverse, please use the tag “dualstrusion” so we can see what you’ve been up to!


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123D Creature From Autodesk Makes Monsters Real

Check this out. The team at Autodesk, creators of the suite of 123D programs, just added a new tool to the arsenal: 123D Creature. And they’ve made a Thingiverse account!

We all know the higher-end 3D modeling programs from Autodesk like Maya and AutoCAD. They’re targeted to people with a bunch of experience or professional need for 3D design. The 123D programs like 123D Catch and 123D Sculpt let users with far less experience create really sweet 3D models. They’ve taken this mission one step further with 123D Creature.

Watch this! Even if you’re at work. Your boss will love it.



Yes! You saw that correctly. 123D Creature is an iPad app (available on the App Store for a sweet introductory price) that basically lets you sculpt any kind of creature you can think of.

Oh snap, is that a MakerBot Replicator 2 featured in the video? Yep! Just export the 3D design file from the app, run it through MakerWare, and bam! You’ve got yourself a custom figure ready to for printing on your MakerBot. This has to be one of the easiest ways ever to do this kind of organic modeling. It’s like hand-sculpting clay figures, but the clay is trapped inside an iPad screen. (Yes, I actually get paid to make analogies like that.)

We’re gawking at all the examples that have already gone up. Dan from the 123D Creature team writes on Thingiverse that all of these models are available in their in-app Creature community, so you can open them up and modify them.

Please for the love of your childhood dreams, and especially your nightmares, go and create some awesome new Creatures and upload them to Thingiverse. Let’s just say that there’s a pretty decent chance you’ll get featured if you do! Because we love this thing. Really, we do.


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OpenSCAD Design Tips: How to Make a Customizable Thing

You can customize this awesome cube right now!

You can customize this awesome cube right now!

Chances are you’ve been following along with the newest developments over on Thingiverse and have seen people uploading “Customizable” versions of their OpenSCAD designs.  ((For the latest information on how to make a customizable thing using the Customizer you’re going to want to check out the documentation for this Thingiverse app.  Since you have to authorize the App to be able to use it, there’s no way at the moment for me to provide a direct link to the documentation.))

If you’d like to give the Thingiverse Customizer a shot but aren’t sure where to begin, this tutorial is for you.  Before you get bogged down in the details, just know that I’ve created a “Customizer template” you can use as a starting point for creating your own customizable Thing.  I would suggest first playing with the settings in this template to see how Customizer changes the object.  Then, when you’ve gotten the hang of it, read through this tutorial on how to make a Customizable OpenSCAD file.  Finally, download and check out the template itself in your favorite text editor or OpenSCAD.  Add your own designs and see how you can make your own customizable Things!

  • Design!
    • Create your OpenSCAD thing just as you normally would.
  • Create Options
    • In order to give Thingiverse users the option to customize your designs through the Customizer App, you’ll need to create options for them.  There are three kinds of user-definable options you can include in  your OpenSCAD file: text boxes, drop down boxes, and numerical sliders.  I’ll discuss each in turn.
      1. Text Box
        1. Simple Text Box.  To add a text box, all you need to do is create a variable.  Like so:
          1. text_box = 10;
        2. Text Boxes with Explanation.  Options are very nice and well, but without an explanation they may be hard for a user to interpret.  Here’s how you would create a similar text box with an explanation:
          1. // This is the explanation text
          2. another_text_box = 10;
      2. Drop Down Box
        1. Drop Down Box of Numbers.  A drop down box can be included by simply including a “//” to comment out the space after a variable and list options like so:
          1. // This creates a drop down box of numbered options
          2. number_drop_down_box = 1; // [0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10]
        2. Drop Down Box of Text.  A drop down box can also include text as possible choices, like this:
          1. // This creates a drop down box of text options
          2. text_drop_down_box = “yes”; // [yes,no,maybe]
        3. Labeled Drop Down Box.  Sometimes it is useful to show the user text labels, but have a numerical value for each text label.  You can do so in this manner:
          1. // This creates a drop down box of text options with numerical values
          2. labeled_drop_down_box = 5; // [1:small, 5:medium, 10:large, 50:supersized]
      3. Numerical Slider
        1.  Once you’ve mastered the text box and the drop down box, the text slider is almost trivial.
          1. // This creates a slider with a minimum and maximum
          2. numerical_slider = 1; // [0:10]
      4. Notes
        1. Not every single variable you reference inside the Customizer start/end section will be included as an option.  If any of your variables use any mathematical operators or other variables in its value, it will not appear as an option.  This can be useful for including “hidden” options within the customizable section – by just multiplying a given variable by 1.1  For example, the following will not appear as an option:
          1. // This option will not appear
          2. hidden_option = 100*1;
        2. Neither will this:
          1. // This option will also not appear
          2. // another_hidden_option = 101;
  • Optional Libraries
  • Upload to Thingiverse
    • Once you’ve finished your OpenSCAD file, you just need to share it on Thingiverse.
    • Once it has been uploaded, just tag your Thing with the word “customizer”, publish your Thing, and you’re done!
  • Limitations
    • Right now there are a few limitations for Customizer.  They are:
      • Your Thingiverse entry can only include on OpenSCAD file.
      • Your OpenSCAD file can’t import any external OpenSCAD code, STL’s, or DXF files.
      • Your OpenSCAD code can only be compiled to a single STL file.

The MakerBot team is continually improving the Customizer, so check back with the documentation frequently so you can find out about the newest features!

  1. Such as:  “this_will_not_appear = 30* 1;” []
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How do you find out the volume inside an STL?

A Beaker is useful for determining volume

A Beaker is useful for determining volume

A few days ago I started designing a new case for my new Polargraph drawing robot brain.   ((Joe Penniston via Compfight))  My goal was to design a simple to design, simple to assemble, and sturdy box-like case.  ((One of the reasons I am interested in a box-like case is to make sure it is easy to mount on a wall or inside a larger project box.))  However, I was stumped when it came to figuring out whether my new design conserved plastic better than the other Polargraph case design from Sandy Noble on Thingiverse.  After experimenting a little, these are the two easiest ways I found to figure out the volume within an STL file.  ((While particularly simple, I suppose if you had a really large beaker and a certain volume of water, you could print your STL file, submerge it, and compare the results.  However, this seems impractical for a lot of reasons.))

  1. AdMesh
    1. Tony Buser was kind enough to suggest an application I had never heard of before – AdMesh.  AdMesh is a free command-line tool created by AMartin1 which can provide all kinds of information about an STL file.  After fiddling around with the program a little bit, I found this command gave me the best results:
      • admesh –normal-directions –tolerance=0.01 –exact %1 >> stl-stats.txt
    2. While AdMesh worked pretty well overall, it had problems with some STL files and was unable to provide statistics.
  2. NetFabb
    1. Alternatively, NetFabb also provides some ways to find out the volume inside an STL file.
      The little button circled in red

      The little button circled in red

      1. NetFabb’s cloud-based STL repair service provides information about the repaired file including surface area, triangles, and volume.  Just submit your STL file for repair (even if it doesn’t really need it) and get back a link to your fixed file along with the relevant statistics.
      2. NetFabb’s “NetFabb Studio Basic” is a free downloadwhich also provides detailed statistics about STL files and basic mesh fixing tools.  Here’s how you do it:
        1. After you open NetFabb, “Control-O” will give you the option of selecting an STL file.
        2. Keep adding as many STL files as you would like.  It won’t matter that they are all overlapped.
        3. Click the third icon from the left, a little cube frame with a circled “i” on it.
        4. A window will pop up providing information, including volume, for each of the STL’s you have imported.
      3. I found the Studio Basic version of NetFabb’s offerings to be more useful.  The statistics seemed to be more consistent than the values from the cloud service and Studio Basic also allows you to import numerous files at once so you can compare the numbers “side by side.”

Do you have a suggestion on how better to figure out the volume in an STL?  If so, let us know in the comments!

  1. Sorry!  I couldn’t find your full name! []
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Favorite Tools for Finishing

Favorite Tools - files, pliers, and putty knife

Favorite Tools – files, pliers, and putty knife

While at the local hardware store over the weekend I picked up a cheap set of files on impulse.  These have quickly been incorporated into my 3D printing toolbox.

  • For years I’ve been using sandpaper and a precision screwdriver set to sand and “file” away plastic.  However, I found the above set consisting of a flat metal file, triangular file, and circular file for less than $7.  Since this particular set was originally designed for sharpening metal saw blades, they make quick and easy work of plastic.  If you haven’t picked up a set like this yet, I’d highly recommend it.
  • The needle nose pliers are useful for cutting filament, handling hot plastic, clamping/fitting/or forcing small parts, and sometimes for scraping excess plastic.
  • The putty knife is useful for scraping excess small pieces of plastic off a printed object, but mainly for separating printed objects from the print bed.
  • Not pictured, I also use a variety of sandpaper.  While the metal files have been proving more versatile and durable than the sandpaper, the finer grades of sandpaper are indispensable for that really polished look.

What do you use to help a printed object look its best?

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OpenSCAD Design Tips

Voltron, victorious

Voltron, victorious

As you may know, I’ve mentioned wanting to print a Voltron several times before.  I even tried to design one once.  Even after uploading a shoddy version, I kept on jabbering on about it.

Finally I’ve designed a printable Voltron of which I can be proud. It’s designed totally in OpenSCAD using just about every single OpenSCAD trick I know.  Additionally, I designed a hinge connector system that, I think, compliments Tony Buser’s Pin Connectors v2 system nicely. In fact, some of the connector pieces for this model are basically a Buser pin connector on one side and a hinge/joint connector on the other. The result is a snap-fit highly articulated/poseable model.

I wanted to share some of these design tricks with you over the next few posts.  Here’s a quick preview:

  • How to sketch an object with OpenSCAD
  • How to easily make regular solids – other than cubes and cylinders, like hexagons, pentagons, octagons, etc
  • How to easily make symmetrical solids
  • How to easily make irregular, but symmetrical solids

Stay tuned for these ideas!

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Halloween 3D Design Workshop @ The Yard

Another great chance to learn about 3D modeling for a MakerBot! Liz Arum and Jon Santiago will be teaching the course. This will take place at The Yard, a Brooklyn co-working space. Here’s what you can expect to learn:

During this day-long intensive workshop you’ll learn how to make and personalize 3D models with Blender and Makerware. You’ll learn how to use these tools, think about strategies to deal with interlocking parts and walk out with your very only glow in the dark or flickering LED holder. No prior modeling, computer or printing experience is necessary.

The details of the workshop are below, and you can check out the Eventbrite for more information and to sign up.

When: Sunday, October 28; 10:05 AM-4 PM

Where: The Yard; 33 Nassau Ave 2nd floor, Brooklyn, NY

Who: The workshop is open to all ages and skill levels

How Much: $150 (plus $9.24 Eventbrite fee)

Jon Santiago works with schools, cultural institutions and community based organizations to create after school programs that are hands-on, engaging, and promote knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). As co-founder of the HTINK educational cooperative Jon has helped start Young Maker programs throughout the New York tri-state area that get middle school and high school students interested in electronics, computer programming, design, and the use of traditional hand tools. He has also worked with MakerBot Industries to develop 3-D printing curriculum and professional development workshops for teachers. Jon graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) where he worked with the FabLab program, a global initiative to bring digital fabrication laboratories to communities around the world.

Liz Arum has a BFA from Cooper Union and an MPS from NYU’s ITP. She currently teaches Physical Computing and Computer Science at Saint Ann’s in Brooklyn, and is responsible for Education Outreach and Curriculum Development at MakerBot Industries.


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