Archive for the ‘Inside Story’ Category

The MakerBot Replicators: The Shipping Team

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It has taken many months of development and preparation, and it has brought even more challenges than we’d thought, but we are pleased to announce that The MakerBot Replicator has started shipping.

Since winning Best-in-Show for Emerging Tech at CES this past January, we’ve received even more orders than we’d been able to anticipate in our most cheerful scenarios. Also, this is the first time we have faced the challenge of launching one of our line of bots as a fully-assembled kit.  It has taken longer than we expected, but bots are finally starting to go out the door!

So if you are an early-adopter who has yet to receive notice that your bot has shipped, we ask for your patience. Despair not: our lean, mean, bot-factory machine is definitely powering forward, building momentum each and every day.

With all of this extra shipping volume, one thing has become clear: how much we appreciate our shipping/receiving staff. This hardworking team are among the busiest humans at MakerBot right now, and their hard-won expertise in getting things in and out the door — getting MakerBots to customers on six continents — is what makes it possible for MakerBots to live in so many homes, schools, and businesses across the planet.


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An Afternoon with the R&D Team from the MakerBot Replicator Project

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Right now in the BotCave, the chirping of dozens of Replicators on the Q&A bench contends with the dolphin squeal of packing tape. Also the chatter of the production team hurrying assembled bots through to the testing process before handing them over to the shipping team for boxing and labeling. There is excitement building in the air … as well as the scent of  grease and lemony cleaning products.

Meanwhile, around the corner in the BotLair, the R&D team who developed and delivered the MakerBot Replicator product that is the origin of all of this activity are still hard at work testing and re-testing elements of the bots before passing off data to the documentation and support teams. Staff photographer Dave Neff spent the afternoon touring around the facility catching a few members of the R&D team who were on-site today, namely injection molding designer Aljoša, BotTech extraordinaire Ben, electrical engineer Alison, and the captain for the R&D team for this project, Charles. There are a few notable omissions, namely Jeremy who spent his summer designing the MightyBoard and Taylor who managed the extensive revisions for the lasercut case.

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Feast Your Ears: Engineer vs. Designer Podcast #31 with Bre Pettis


Join SolidSmack‘s Josh Mings and cadjunkie‘s Adam O’Hern in the latest installment of ‘the dankest product design podcast on the block,’ Engineer vs. Designer. The fellas ask Bre why he thinks open-source is so darn important, wonder what kind of living object he would 3D print if he could, and discover what inspires him most about his community of fellow hackers, tinkerers, and geeks.

Each week the folks at Engineer vs. Designer serve up all the latest in digital design, with useful tips & tricks, designer Q&As, and one very special guest. Find more episodes of Engineer vs. Designer here, and don’t forget to follow Adam and Josh on Twitter @EvD1 or Facebook.


Download this podcast for free.



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Builders and Testers of The MakerBot Replicator

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A pride of ten mighty MakerBot Replicators have been striding about the country since mid January. And my, have they been busy:

But there remains a public debut that we at MakerBot are even more excited about: the shipping launch of pre-sale MakerBots out to our most eager and enthusiastic MakerBot Operators so far. A sprinkle of hundreds and hundreds of new and veteran Operators across six continents1 who have seen what our new machines can do and are eager to invite The Replicator into their homes, schools, and businesses.

To make this tremendous boost of productivity possible, the entire MakerBot team has been leveling up. We’ve been adding staff, training and encouraging each other, and turning our Brooklyn facilities inside out to accomodate all of the new moving parts necessary to make our Replicator launch the smoothest MakerBot BotLaunch of all time.

I’d like to introduce you to a team of real heroes — the men and women working full-tilt to make the launch of The MakerBot Replicator as a fully-assembled kit a reality. A team that germinated from Colin’s one-man Fully-Assembled Thing-O-Matic operation a year ago into a deeply-integrated Productor/BotBuilder/Tester commando task force today. A task force laboring deep in the belly of the BotCave like a team of tough-as-nails sandhogs moving the earth under Manhattan.

Our machines have the word “Brooklyn” laser-etched into the back left corner, just above the unique MakerBot serial number: a real point of pride for our Brooklyn-based company. If you have ever had any question as to why that word is there, here’s your answer: our robots are assembled, tested, and shipped by a crew of remarkable humans, right here in Brooklyn, New York.

Watch Annelise’s video and then check out this slideshow for more portraits of some of the heroes of MakerBot.

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  1. Antarctica, we have our eye on you. []
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The MakerBot Store is was Down!

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Update: 7:30PM EST – SiteGenie is back up and we’ve transferred the images over. The store should be working for everyone, now. If you’re still not seeing it, please be patient while the DNS change propagates to you and your ISP.

Update: 6:15PM EST – We’ve re-instated the store from backup on another ISP. We’re currently missing some product images, but otherwise things should be working. It may take some time for DNS to propagate and point you at the correct site, so you still may not be able to access the site for a while. We’ll get those pictures back in place once SiteGenie is back up.

Update: 6:00PM EST – A new update from SiteGenie – their upstream provider is working on a fix. May have things working in an hour or so, but no promises, yet.

Update: 3:13PM EST – The latest update from SiteGenie indicates that there’s an upstream problem between their provider and Chicago. Maybe somebody ran a backhoe over some fiber optic cables? :(

As some intrepid shoppers may have noticed, the MakerBot Store has been down since this morning.

Our hosting provider, SiteGenie, tells us that they are having major upstream connectivity issues and are working to resolve them as quickly as possible.

Thingiverse and the MakerBot blog are still up and running strong, thanks to the power of cloud computing!

We’ll post updates here as this situation unfolds. We hope to get the store back up as soon as possible.

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Mk4 to Mk7: We’ve come a long way!

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!

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GE Air Show – the Grand Finale

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If you’ve been following the GE Air Show on Facebook, you might be interested in the Grand Finale, posted above. Tons of new models, and as always, funny animation.

All the models shown will make their way to the GE page on Thingiverse shortly, so keep an eye out.

It was really fun to work on this. The teams from Impact Media and Evolution Bureau were smart, creative, talented and great to work with. I’d like to highlight the participation of Gabriel Bentley from Impact Media, who basically taught himself Sketchup and Makerbot operations in the space of weeks, and was running a one-man model airplane factory by the end of the project.

Also, one more thing: the observant amongst you may have noticed that there was never a Week 2 video. Well, fret no more – that footage was discovered, and is posted below:

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Helicopter hi-jinks at the GE Air Show

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Another video from the GE Air Show project, this time featuring helicopters. The client (GE) has discovered what most of us already know: that watching a Makerbot print is hypnotic! The creative direction has been to emphasize the design and print process, so you’ll be seeing more timelapse takes of the print.

This is likely to be the penultimate video of the project: they are taking submissions for the grand finale right now on the Facebook page.

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GE Air Show – a miniature air show of the imagination full of user-submitted designs, printed on a Makerbot!

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I’ve been working on an exciting project lately: the GE Air Show. The idea is to get people to submit models, sketches, concepts or ideas for weird and wonderful flying machines, print them on a Makerbot, and then have them star in a video set in a miniature air show of the imagination. At the end of the month we’re hoping to have the airport crowded with all kinds of aircraft – so please submit your ideas.

We’re looking for submissions regardless of 3D design skills: you can submit sketches, mockups or just your brilliant idea to [email protected], and you can check out other comments and submissions at The models that are being built will be listed on the GE page at Thingiverse,, so keep checking back for updates.

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I’ve been working together with Andrew Rutter on building the Makerbots, and getting 3D models ready for printing. It’s been very interesting so far: both Thing-O-Matics were up and running within a day – in fact, one of them was put together in only three and half hours! The new cartridge-based extruder is much simpler to assemble, and the Thing-O-Matic can certainly produce great results with a lot less tuning than was required for previous models.

This project is interesting because it highlights how quickly you can go from a concept to a physical object through 3D printing. By offering to model sketches or ideas that people have sent in, it makes it possible for people unfamiliar with 3D design to see their ideas made real. A lot of requests are for models of existing aircraft, but we’d really like for people to submit ideas for original and fanciful designs.

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Welcome Gian Pablo Villamil to the Blog

@gpvillamil with the noisebridge army of MakerBots

I’ve known Gian Pablo for a long time as comembers of NYCResistor and now he’s joining us as a part time blogger here on the MakerBot blog. He keeps his bot at Noisebridge, the SF hackerspace and he’s obsessed with optimizing and using the MakerBot to get things done. He’s also a dad, so I expect we’ll see him blog about MakerBotting as a dad as well! Welcome!

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