3D Maker Spaces Bridge Generation Gaps


What do a fifth grade student and a seasoned executive have in common? Not a lot, you’d think. At least that’s what I thought before I started my 11-week, 22-state listening tour to meet MakerBot customers throughout the United States.

In every school and business I’ve visited in the past 3 weeks, I’ve seen a multi-generational community join together around a central creative purpose. Everyone wants to take their big idea napkin sketches to the next level, and a communal 3D space devoted to Real-Time design and prototyping allows that.

These 3D maker spaces, and our customers, continue to blow me away.

In CT, at the Whitby School, sixth graders and their teachers move through a professional product-development process: research, design, make, iterate, repeat. Students and teachers imagine and create something out of nothing in the classroom.


In NY, at the State University of New Paltz, college students run the SUNY Innovation Center and help local entrepreneurs test and iterate on their ideas with 3D technology. Each brings their unique skills to the conversation: entrepreneurs bring their business acumen, and college students, who now accept Desktop 3D printing as the “new normal,” bring their Real-Time prototyping experience. Together, they quickly leap from 2D conceptual ideas to physical products and solutions.



In GA, at Georgia Institute of Technology, students run an Invention Studio that includes a wood shop, metal shop, electronics shop, and now a 3D print shop complete with “3DP Masters.” These 3DP Masters help student and faculty inventors create, quickly iterate, and print on demand.

In FL, a big part of the MakerBot family is Florida Polytechnic University, where their RAD MakerSpace Innovation Center brings together faculty, students (current and prospective), entrepreneurs, and young people from the community around one idea – creating and turning hypothetical ideas like a floating light into reality.


Whether people have decades of professional experience or are young students, the divide between the generations is not great when it comes to dreaming big ideas and turning them into reality.

I’m lucky. I’m seeing a new start-up culture emerging that bridges generations, and these communal 3D Maker Spaces are becoming magnets for quickly turning sketches into reality.

3D Maker Spaces give every generation a common language for going from Creating to Making.

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Sam’s Club Carries MakerBot Nationwide


Since the beginning of MakerBot, we have grown our 3D Ecosystem with new features for our products, materials, software, accessories, services, and content. Now, we’re expanding one of our most exciting partnerships to make 3D printing even more accessible to everyone.

Sam’s Club is a leading membership warehouse club with over 600 stores nationwide, and now the MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer is available in all 600+ Sam’s Club locations.

“There’s a growing appetite for 3D printing as people see how many professional and practical uses there are for the technology,” said Dawn von Bechmann, Sam’s Club’s senior vice president of technology. “We’re excited to extend MakerBot nationwide and bring our members the latest innovation.”

The Replicator Mini is an educational, portable, and user friendly compact 3D printer that brings easier access to 3D printing in office, classroom, or home.

Select Clubs now also feature a new in-store display that prominently showcases the 3D printer, so customers can learn about the technology firsthand. MakerBot and Sam’s Club first partnered in select Sam’s Club retail locations in the fall of 2014. Sam’s Club also sells MakerBot PLA Filament in four colors: black, blue, red, and white.

“Our revamped in-store display at Sam’s Club makes it easier for customers to understand the technology and the benefits it offers today,” said Mark Schulze, CRO of MakerBot.

Find the MakerBot Replicator Mini in your local Sam’s Club today.

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MakerBot Wins Red Dot for Industrial Design


The Red Dot recognizes outstanding product design, from the iPhone and Apple Wireless Keyboard, to the BMW i8 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Now the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer (Fifth Generation Model) joins this pantheon of product design, with a 2015 Red Dot award for product design. An international jury recognized the MakerBot Replicator for its sleek yet functional form that maximizes accessibility in the workspace, and that sets it apart from other 3D printers.

“Not many companies have applied proper design process to 3D printers before,” says Mark Palmer, MakerBot’s director of industrial design. With most 3D printers, he says, “after the mechanical and electrical design is done, they just put a box around it.”

Palmer joined MakerBot in May 2014, after work on the Fifth Generation was completed. He is delighted that the industrial designers on his team, Jackson Seidenberg and Vishnu Anantha, have been praised by the same organization that has honored Dieter Rams, Bill Moggridge, and Jony Ive.

“Many people don’t realize that most of the objects and products they interact with in the world are shaped by industrial designers,” says Palmer. The goal of industrial design, he says, is “to close the gap between technology and people.”

The MakerBot Replicator improves on previous 3D printers with a level of refinement, openness, and accessibility not seen before in the industry. It has an intuititve interface, a 3.5″ display and a software platform, a mobile app, and integration with MakerBot Thingiverse. And the revolutionary MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder minimizes print downtime by enabling users to swap out a worn extruder in minutes.
“There are strong cues in the printer itself that tell you how to interact with it,” says Palmer. “The knob becomes the focal point.”

As Palmer and his team start to think beyond the Fifth Generation, they focus on easy use and immediate printing access, which will allow both professional teams and education users to evolve their ideas faster than ever.

“If our team is successful, it will be hard to discern the industrial design qualities of the product from the mechanical and electrical design,” he says. “The physical and experiential qualities of our products will be taken to a whole new level.”

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To Understand the Future of 3D Printing, Talk to a Student


When you first see a 3D printer, it’s mesmerizing. You make something (a physical object) out of nothing (a digital file).

After a while, you learn 3D printing isn’t a magic trick. I’ve worked in the industry for more than a decade, so I’m used to seeing engineers and designers make prototypes and develop products for the market, and I get the disruptive potential of additive manufacturing.

But the other day, my mind was blown like it hasn’t been in years. I visited The Whitby School, where Leslie Perry uses MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D printers in her middle-school design technology classes. When I took over as CEO of MakerBot two months ago, I learned that more than 5,000 schools have MakerBot Replicators. Still, it was a shock to see sixth graders moving through a professional product-development process: research, design, make, iterate, repeat.

I expressed surprise, and a 12-year-old named Eric seemed confused. “I don’t see using Tinkercad and then MakerBot to design something as exceptional. I find it sort of normal.”

Over the past ten days, as I embarked on a 10-week, 22-state tour to meet more than 60 MakerBot customers around the United States, I keep encountering this new normal. I’ve listened to tales of success as well as grumbles at companies from Stanley Black & Decker to Adafruit. At every school I’ve visited, I see a new educational paradigm: students teaching their elders about technology.

The world hasn’t turned entirely upside down; it’s more of an intergenerational knowledge exchange. At the State University of New York at New Paltz, for example, 18-year-old interns at the MakerBot Innovation Center help seasoned local entrepreneurs use 3D modeling software and 3D printers to test and refine their ideas. New Paltz students learn about engineering and design by working on real-world problems as they teach these fortysomethings, who bring their experience and ideas.


The University of Maryland Clark School of Engineering, which integrated MakerBot Replicators into its hands-on design course for all first-year engineers, included two undergraduates on their evaluation team. The students put several brands of desktop 3D printers through their paces and made recommendations about which model the school should buy. “You can’t expect someone like me to know about this technology,” quips Dean Darryll Pines, who remembers colleagues who pooh-poohed desktop computers and didn’t expect the Internet would amount to much. These two UMD students just delivered a paper at the annual American Society for Engineering Education conference, which talked about integrating 3D printing in the first-year engineering course.

And at Brooklyn Tech, the largest American high school focused on STEAM subjects, I saw a civil engineering class build a 3D printed turbine, and the many pieces made by the robotics club to help their creation throw a frisbee or load a crate.


There may not be a 3D printer in every home yet, but more and more households have young people in them who see a 3D printer as just another tool, like a hammer or a Web browser. These children know how to have an idea, give it a physical form, and keep making it better. One generation’s magic trick is the next generation’s normal.

As I was leaving Brooklyn Tech, a student chased me out of the building because he wanted an internship at MakerBot.

The truth is, I should have been running after him.

And if you want to understand how things will be made in the future, you should be running after students like that, too.

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Speed and Performance for Automotive Engineers

“Moving faster is everything to us,” says Jeremy Godin, vice president of product for Mishimoto Automotive. The products they make — radiators, racing thermostats, intercoolers — enhance the performance of car engines, so their customers move faster. For car and racing enthusiasts, Mishimoto is almost like a pit crew, replacing their stock parts with better, higher performing products.

But, like a pit crew, the leading manufacturer in aftermarket performance cooling products is always pushing to make their process faster and more efficient. “It’s all about speed to market,” says Godin, who compares the market to a “pie that nobody’s had a slice of yet. First person there gets the whole pie.”

When Godin joined Mishimoto four years ago, some products took as much as two years to come to market. Now the development timeline is “a fraction of that,” he says. “A lot of that is through the tools that we’ve brought on site,” from coordinate measuring machines to 3D printers.

Mishimoto first acquired a Stratasys Dimension uPrint, which allowed the company to rely less on cardboard and sheet metal for prototypes. “A lot of the times that fell short, because you can’t simulate complex geometry with basic sheet metal parts,” says product engineer Steve Wiley. He also saves time, because he can work on other projects while the 3D printer is making a model.

However, the materials were costly — more than $700 for five spools of ABS — such that the engineering team had to consider carefully whether it made sense to 3D print.

Then, earlier this year, Mishimoto bought a MakerBot Replicator Z18. Its massive build volume means that Mishimoto can 3D print larger parts in a single piece, and MakerBot PLA Filament, which costs only a few cents per gram, meant that they could prototype more freely. Given how much Mishimoto relies on 3D printing, “the machine will pay for itself,” says engineering manager Kevin McCardle.

When MakerBot visited Mishimoto’s offices in New Castle, DE, Mishimoto engineers talked through the development of Mishimoto’s Ford Mustang Ecoboost Intercooler; which tests showed that Mishimoto’s Ecoboost intercooler lowers air intake temperature by 35°F (19°C) more than to the Mustang’s stock intercooler.


Once Mishimoto gets its hands on a new Mustang, it removes the part in question and creates a more efficient part that has the same shape. For the intercooler prototype, Mishimoto made 3D printed end tanks and attached them to a core made from wooden two-by-fours. Once Mishimoto confirmed the fit of the intercooler with a 3D printed prototype, it went straight into production of the end tanks without having to wait to review a sample part.

This process saves Mishimoto about six weeks of development time. That’s six weeks of getting the whole pie on a $475 intercooler. And Mishimoto makes about 150 new products a year, 30% of which involve 3D printing. That’s a lot of pies — and hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales each year that could never have happened without tightening their process.


“At Mishimoto, five years from now I could see us having a wall of 3D printers,” Godin says. “It will continue to allow us to get to market faster.”

Interested in learning how your company can benefit from a MakerBot Replicator Z18?


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3D Print ThinkFun Maker Studio Construction Sets for Free


With ThinkFun’s Maker Studio Construction Sets, children (and grownups) can transform household items into things like race cars and motorcycles. These sets come with suggested projects but you’re limited only by the boundaries of your imagination.

ThinkFun usually sells its construction sets online and in stores but now, the three Maker Studio Construction Sets are available to 3D print for free on MakerBot Thingiverse, the world’s largest 3D design community. Anyone can download files from the Gears, Winches, and Propellers Sets (including connectors, hubcaps, and hole punches) and create them on a 3D printer, at home or in a classroom, to explore basic engineering and design.

ThinkFun is also sponsoring a Kids Make It Challenge, with a chance at ThinkFun- and MakerBot-branded prizes and at the title of Master Maker. To enter, post a picture of something you made with Maker Studio on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #KidsMakeIt. Entries will be accepted until July 14, 2015, and winners will be announced on the MakerBot blog. Read ThinkFun’s official contest rules, and download the Gears, Winches, and Propellers sets from Thingiverse.

Start Building

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Food Share Wins GE FirstBuild Hack-a-Thon


The maker community at GE FirstBuild joined forces with MakerBot Thingiverse for the Third Annual Hack-A-Thon at MakerBot’s Brooklyn, NY, headquarters. Inventors, educators, and 3D printing enthusiasts worked over the weekend to “think inside the icebox” — that is, to design features and 3D print prototypes for GE’s USB- and WiFi-enabled refrigerator, ChillHub, using the MakerBot 3D Ecoystem and Raspberry Pi computers provided by Seeed Studio. Six teams of innovators experimented with ChillHub to imagine new features and new possibilities.

On the line? A MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer and two rolls of filament for each member of the winning team. No small potatoes.

The winning team, headed by Bryan Berger of NY Hackathons, was Food Share, a way to display and share food from your refrigerator with neighbors. Food Share can detect freshness — so no pawning off overripe fruit, unless that’s your neighbor’s thing. Food Share would lead to less food waste and maybe more community potlucks.

Other inspired entries included Chiliflix, for movie recommendations based on eating habits; Fridge Pharm, for reminders to take chilled medications; Light Snack Stopper; which gates access between meals with a joystick game; and Pavlov’s Fridge, which unlocks treats when tasks  are completed.

Thanks to all the participants for bringing your A game, and congratulations to Food Share.

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MakerBot in the Classroom: A Resource for Educators

MakerBot in the Classroom: An Introduction to 3D Printing and Design

MakerBot has become an important tool in more than 5,000 schools throughout the United States, and others around the world. Many more teachers would like to introduce 3D printing to help their students learn to collaborate and solve problems, and prepare them for the jobs of the future. To teach something, however, you must first learn it yourself.

For teachers out there who may have never used a 3D printer before, MakerBot has created MakerBot in the Classroom: An Introduction to 3D Printing and Design. This handbook, which also has plenty of useful information for teachers already familiar with 3D printing, is divided into three sections: a primer on 3D printing technology; explanations of how to download, scan, and design models to print, and sample 3D printing projects. Each project introduces a different free 3D design software tool. For example, the Make Your Own Country, which casts students as surveyors of a new land, starts in Tinkercad.

You can download MakerBot in the Classroom for free if you’ve registered your MakerBot Replicator. A sample chapter and project are available free to anyone.

This handbook is part of an ongoing effort to provide better support for 3D printing in classrooms and on campus. Other materials are available at the new MakerBot Education Resource Center.

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Win a MakerBot Replicator for Yourself or Your School

Thingiverse Summer STEAM Challenges

School might be over, but the MakerBot Thingiverse will keep you learning all summer long. Thingiverse is launching five challenges, one for each STEAM subject: science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. The first challenge closes on July 19, and the last closes on August 16, so you get the summer to design, iterate, and learn. The winner of each challenge will win a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer.

Don’t know how to design for 3D printing? We think everyone can learn by using free and accessible tools like MakerBot Printshop, Tinkercad, MeshMixer, OpenSCAD, 123D Design, Sculptris, Sketchup, Morphi for iPad, and Blender.

Your School Can Win, Too

If you’re a schoolteacher or administrator who dreams about what your students could learn if only your school had a MakerBot Replicator, join the Our School Needs A 3D Printer group on Thingiverse. Each STEAM Challenge winner gets to choose a school from the group that will receive a MakerBot Replicator printer as well.

That makes ten lucky winners: five designers and five schools.The Thingiversity Summer STEAM Challenges are open to all ages and skill levels, and sometimes the simplest designs are the best ones.

Learn more >>

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MakerBot Desktop 3.7 | Faster Printing, Better Profiles

Desktop 3.7 Release Blog Header

The release of MakerBot Desktop 3.7 is full of upgrades and new features that’ll streamline and boost your next project. Make sure your download or upgrade your current version of MakerBot Desktop today.


Custom Profiles for Quicker Printing
Certain 3D prints need a little more TLC, and that can mean you‘ll want custom settings that may not apply to all your projects. That’s where the new Custom Profile Editor in MakerBot Desktop 3.7 comes into play. It allows you to edit properties of your print like infill and extruder speed, settings which can be saved as a template for future projects. Quick and Custom tabs let users of all levels create custom settings.

See More, Learn More
Looking to protect your home or business Wi-Fi network? If you’re operating on hidden Wi-Fi, you can still connect your MakerBot Replicator by entering the network name and password into MakerBot Desktop 3.7.

There’s also more data available about your MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder. Open the device preferences window to get stats like temperature, total print time, and more.

Speed It Up
Help your project along by varying the layer height within a single print. Infill, for example, doesn’t need the same polish as the exterior. When different parts of your model can have different layer heights, the result is faster 3D printing with the same high quality.


Have some questions? Want to share your latest 3D print with MakerBot? Send a message to [email protected].

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