MakerBot Desktop | From Digital to Physical

MBD Education Blog pt2_Header 3

Steps to Success
Every now and then we’re reminded 3D printing is not science fiction, but a real technology used every day to make amazing things in homes, studios, schools, and businesses. At MakerBot we’re proud to be leading this Next Industrial Revolution with the MakerBot 3D Ecosystem, which makes desktop 3D printing and 3D scanning affordable and reliable for everyone, and includes a variety of products and services to help unleash your creativity.

One of the newest members of our family is MakerBot Desktop, a complete, free 3D printing solution for discovering, managing, and sharing your 3D prints. As we learned in last week’s post on connectivity, MakerBot Desktop was built to access the powerful software capabilities of the new Fifth Generation line of MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printers. This week, we’ll take a look at how to use it to go, in just three simple steps, from a 3D design to a 3D print.

1. Find a Model
Whether you make your own digital 3D models or prefer to use ones that are already made, MakerBot Desktop gives you three ways to get started:

– Did you design your own model? MakerBot Desktop will open any STL or OBJ file. Just make sure you save your file as one of those types in the design software you’re using. Click Add File in MakerBot Desktop, and navigate to where the file is saved on your computer.

– Want to browse through free designs? Click on Explore in MakerBot Desktop to see the hundreds of thousands of 3D printable things on MakerBot Thingiverse, the 3D design community for discovering, printing, and sharing 3D models. Simply click Prepare next to the file name, and MakerBot Desktop will open up the file in the Prepare tab.

– Looking for high-quality, original prints? Check out the MakerBot Digital Store by clicking Store in MakerBot Desktop. Buy individual models or collections, all designed by our experts. A print file for your purchased model will appear in your MakerBot Cloud Library.


2. Prepare Your Model
Once you have your model open in the Prepare tab you can change its orientation, scale it up or down, or even add another model to the virtual build plate.


You may also want to change some settings before printing. Click Settings and choose if you want to print with a raft, support, or both. A raft is a base on which your model will be printed, and can help it stick to the plate. Supports can be printed to hold up overhanging parts of your model. Both the raft and supports can be easily removed once the print is finished.

You can also choose your resolution: low, standard, or high. The higher resolution, the longer the time it will take to print. For more information on preparing your model, visit MakerBot Desktop Advanced Options page in the MakerBot support website.


3. Send the File to Your MakerBot Replicator
When your model is set up the way you like it, you can go ahead and click Print.

– If you’re printing via USB stick, MakerBot Desktop will slice your file when you click Print. When the file is ready, click Export Now, and save the file to your USB stick. Then plug the USB stick into the port on the MakerBot Replicator, and navigate to USB Storage on the LCD Display. Find your file and push the control panel dial to print.

– If you’re printing via USB cable, LAN, or Wi-Fi (coming soon!), MakerBot Desktop will slice your file and send it over to your MakerBot Replicator when you click Print. All you have to do is press the control panel dial to confirm and start the print.

Show the World Your Work
If you printed a file from Thingiverse, MakerBot Desktop will prompt you to share a photo of your print. Select Share to Thingiverse, and the MakerBot Replicator’s on-board camera will take a photo of your build area. Push the dial again to post the photo to the Thing page.


Now you’re all set to start printing. Go ahead and explore all the exciting options MakerBot Desktop offers with your new MakerBot Replicator. And stay tuned next week for when we’ll go over how to use the MakerBot Cloud Library!


Tagged with 2 comments

Thingiverse | Customize a 3D Printed Tree

3D print a forest of unique, customized trees using Thingiverse Customizer. With about a dozen parameters, the Customizable Tree allows you to easily generate all the flora your inner arborist desires.

We just upgraded Customizer to a more recent version of OpenSCAD (2013.06), so we created the Customizable Tree to show off some of the new features. It now supports recursion, or the process of repeating similar shapes, in modules and functions and the scaling parameter for linear extrusions which allows the tree branches to taper.

Additionally, the tree customizer uses a new library we wrote for handling 3D vectors and a small library for converting hue-saturation-value colors to RGB. The 3D vector library comes with some helpful functions for rotating vectors toward other vectors as well as a module for visualizing vector paths.

Now that we’ve upgraded, we can’t wait to see what kinds of recursive designs you come up with!

Tagged with One comment

MakerBot Retail | Eva’s Fantastical Furniture Springs to Life

Retail Operator Header

Upgrading the Design Process
Industrial Designer Eva Arnason fell in love with furniture making as a student at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Now that Eva is the Assistant Manager at the MakerBot Retail Store in Boston, she’s taking her love of furniture design to the next level by incorporating desktop 3D printing into her creative process.

“I had been making furniture the old-fashioned way at a small custom furniture store that specializes in desks and shelving. When I heard MakerBot was opening a store in Boston, I wanted the opportunity to get back into the digital side of design.”

Retail Operator Blog

Under Pressure
For her most recent project, Eva incorporated the natural contours of a piece of wood into a table. However, she needed to ensure her abnormally shaped table could support weight from any angle. So Eva created a 3D printed prototype on a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer. She used this miniature table prototype to test the strength of her design by putting pressure on various points across the table’s surface. Now she can design the perfect base for her creation before cutting a single piece of wood.

“I used to spend hours making small wooden prototypes by hand,” says Eva. “Now I can use 3D printing to quickly test my designs before creating them.”

Visit Eva and the rest of the crew at the MakerBot Retail Store on 144 Newbury St, Boston, MA. And don’t forget to explore our vast collection of ready-to-print content on MakerBot Thingiverse, the 3D design community for discovering, printing, and sharing 3D models.


Tagged with Leave a comment

MakerBot Desktop | Let’s Get Started


Congratulations to everyone who has purchased a Fifth Generation MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer! You’re at the leading edge of the Next Industrial Revolution and about to enjoy the reliability, ease of use, and seamless connectivity of the new MakerBot Replicator 3D Printing Platform.

Download the Latest and Greatest
To get started, you’ll need to download MakerBot Desktop, which includes MakerBot MakerWare and a lot more. It’s a complete, free 3D printing solution for discovering, managing, and sharing your 3D prints. Once you’ve chosen your operating system and installed the program, you’ll be ready to connect to your new MakerBot Replicator 3D printer.


Variety of Connections
With the new MakerBot Replicator, you can connect via USB cable or local area network (LAN). Wi-Fi is coming soon too! You may also transfer files via USB stick. Note: You can change which method you use to connect to your MakerBot Replicator at any time.

Connecting via USB Cable
Use the provided USB cable to connect your MakerBot Replicator to your computer. MakerBot Desktop will automatically detect your MakerBot Replicator.

Connecting via LAN
To connect via LAN, use an Ethernet cable (not provided) to connect your MakerBot Replicator to a wall jack or router. Once your MakerBot Replicator is on the network, you can connect it to MakerBot Desktop by going to the Devices menu and selecting Connect to a new Device.

Transfer Files via USB Stick (MakerBot Replicator and MakerBot Replicator Z18 only)
Simply insert the USB drive into the port to the right of the dial. On the LCD screen, select Print then select USB Storage to access your files.


If MakerBot Desktop doesn’t automatically detect your MakerBot Replicator, go to the Devices menus, select Connect to a New Device, and select your MakerBot Replicator.

You’re now set up and ready to print!

Stay tuned next week when we will give you the lowdown on print flow, the process of finding a 3D model to print, customizing it, and turning it into a 3D print in your hands.


Tagged with 2 comments

MakerBot Academy | An Athlete’s Gift to Golden State Students


They may be closing in on No. 1 in their conference, but the Golden State Warriors are about more than just winning games. In fact, when NBA forward Harrison Barnes isn’t helping the Golden State Warriors blaze a five-game winning streak, he’s an avid MakerBot Academy supporter.

“For young kids, it’s a great alternative as opposed to playing video games or something less productive,” says the man with a 38-inch standing vertical jump. “It’s a way you can learn and have fun at the same time.”


To get students from the San Francisco Bay Area excited about 3D printing, Barnes stopped by Oakland High School last Monday with MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis and America Makes executive director Ralph Resnick to donate a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer.  The MakerBot Replicator 2 will be part of the science and engineering classes at the school.

We can’t wait to see what the students of Oakland High will make!

Tagged with Leave a comment

MakerBot on Campus | Two Days of Invention


Undergrad Students Dig Into Design
When people think of hackathons, they’re usually referring to software. Leave it to MIT to take it in another direction. In February, the university hosted MakeMIT, a hardware hackathon sponsored by MakerBot that brought 200 students together to compete in building mechanical creations. Using MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers, along with supplies like Kinects, motors, microcontrollers, and much more, MIT students worked in teams to create off-the-wall inventions.


And The Winner Is?
The hackathon was executed over two phases, with the winners of phase one returning to compete in phase two. Group innovation resulted in projects like an arcade-style version of Flappy Bird made with 3D-printed bird and an LED matrix, as well as LexoGlove, an exoskeleton glove that teaches American Sign Language fingerings to the deaf-blind. However, there can be only winner, and that honor (and $2,000 in prize money) belongs to a guitar-playing robot that can pick and strum.

The event’s inaugural year was a huge success, and will likely inspire other colleges and universities to host their own hardware hackathons. We’re excited to see how these future events take 3D printing to a new level.

Tagged with Leave a comment

MakerBot Stories | Hospital Cable Guy Saves Money, Lives

When you go to the hospital, your vital signs are monitored through three separate cables. The ER gets hectic (holiday weekend, traffic pileup, full moon), and sometimes those cables go missing. They can follow an admitted patient from the emergency room up to his floor, or a resident puts them in her pocket at the end of a long shift.

Those cables are essential, since they set off an alarm when your heart races or your blood pressure plummets. They are also expensive: $294.85 for a set of three, which adds up. If you had to replace cables once a year for each of the 315 beds at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Patchogue, NY, it would cost $92,877.75. So Brookhaven has a Cable Guy.

Steven Jaworski is a biomedical technician who does everything from outfit Brookhaven’s new cardiac health lab to replacing these cables. He had to replace so many cables that he ordered cable tethers from a medical supplier for $24.50 per cable, or $73.50 for a set of three. But surgical scissors cut through these tethers easily.

Then Jaworski asked for a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer to solve his cable problem. He designed a tamperproof cable tether. Between the dense black PLA and thick wire, it costs $7.94. It holds all three cables, and surgical scissors can’t cut through it.


Jaworski’s cable tethers saved Brookhaven Hospital $60,000 in three months. But Jaworski says the best thing about having a MakerBot Replicator 2 is its versatility. “It’s not a Phillips-head screwdriver when you need a flathead. It’s basically a solution that has paid for itself many times over.”

For example, Brookhaven has a Jackson table, which is used for spinal surgeries, where the patient lies on his belly. The Jackson table has a mirror so the doctors can see a patient’s face in the reflection. To adjust the mirror, there are two knobs. One of the knobs broke. It can take weeks to get a part like this from the manufacturer, if they’d sell it to you, and in the meantime the Jackson table was out of commission. Jaworski printed a knob from Thingiverse in three hours and the Jackson table was ready again that afternoon. He also made a spare knob for the operating room, in case it broke again.

Brookhaven does four surgeries a week on that Jackson table. So a missing knob means four patients whose suffering is prolonged, whose healing is delayed.

Then Jaworski made a bumper for the blanket-warming cabinets in the emergency room, protecting the doors from collisions with stretchers. Warm blankets mean comfortable, happy patients.

He will keep finding ways to improve care at Brookhaven with the 3D printer: “You don’t know when you’re going use it, you don’t know what you’re going to use it for, but you’re always going to need it.”

Tagged with , , 3 comments

MakerBot Studio | Chunky Trains Pull into the Station


Next Stop: Your 3D Printer

Something big is chugging its way toward the MakerBot Digital Store.

New Chunky Trains interlock with each other thanks to a common base piece that can sport any of seven train topper designs. Try it with the Lucky Locomotive, the mighty head engine, and the Crafty Crane, which can pivot 360 degrees to scoop up a load.

These hard-hauling railroad cars are some of the most interactive designs we’ve seen from the MakerBot Studio so far. Studio Director Lane Feuer can’t wait to hear how kids play with them.

“This set, along with our original Chunky Trucks line, is the perfect addition to any sandbox,” said Feuer. truck-2

Top and Go

Feuer is proud of how easy it to customize a Chunky Trains base with any of the seven new designs.

“Pop the base of the train car off of the build plate and slide it into the bottom of the train car topper,” advises Feuer. “It snaps into place and your train is ready for its first adventure.”

Download Chunky Trains from the MakerBot Digital Studio, and add some serious locomotion to your collection of 3D printable digital designs.


Tagged with Leave a comment

MakerBot Academy | A Deluge of Classroom Creativity


A Better Understanding of the Weather
As Ryan Cain came to the end of teaching his 2nd grade class about Earth materials, he wanted to finish with a flourish. His made his grand finale come to fruition with a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer.

Mr. Cain wanted to help children empathize with hurricane victims, so he taught his students how to design their own buildings in 3D modeling software. Then they 3D printed them on MakerBot 3D Printers, and placed them along the banks of a simple model river consisting of a water pump and a sandbox. By turning up the power on the water pump, Mr. Cain unleashed a flood on his class’s model city, giving students a memorable visual on the effects of soil erosion.


Teaching his 2nd graders how to design and 3D print an entire riverbank of model buildings isn’t the only impressive thing Mr. Cain has done with his MakerBot 3D Printers. He recently:

– Embarked on “30 days of creativity”, starting with 3D printing a replacement knob on his dresser.
– Printed new buildings for his erosion model.
– Taught his robotics students how to design and 3D print concepts for relief delivery drones that could reach victims in the wake of natural disasters.

Mr. Cain has been a fan of MakerBot since the Cupcake CNC, and was one of the first educators to bring MakerBot 3D Printers into the classroom. We can’t wait to see what this pioneering educator will come up with next.

Tagged with One comment

MakerBot Retail Store | The MakerBot Replicator Is Here!


The Fifth Generation MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer has arrived at all three MakerBot Retail Stores. Now is your chance to see our latest desktop 3D printer up close, and have a knowledgeable MakerBot Retail Operator walk you through all the great new features, including:

–456 cubic inch build volume that’s 11% larger than the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer.

–Onboard camera for print monitoring and easy sharing.

–New detachable MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder that detects when you’ve run out of filament, automatically stops your prints, and sends notifications to MakerBot Desktop once your print is finished.

– 3.5-inch full-color LCD display and intuitive dial that creates a rich user experience.

–Assisted build-plate leveling and other onboard utilities that help you set up and print faster than ever.

We could go on, but at this point you probably just want to grab a MakerBot Replicator of your own and start 3D printing amazing things. We don’t blame you. That’s what we’re doing.

Get your new MakerBot Replicator today!

Tagged with Leave a comment