MakerBot | Let’s Talk about the Smart Extruder

Let’s Talk
Here at MakerBot, we’ve been heads down, continually iterating and improving on our latest hardware and software. We’ve been busy. We’ve been growing. It’s been exciting.

But we realize we’ve been too focused about what’s ahead and that we haven’t been letting you know about the upcoming features and improvements we’ve been working on, or communicating enough with you about your concerns with our products. We haven’t been responding to your issues fast enough either.

How We’re Going to Do Better
We’re putting fixes in place to help our Support team help you. We’re beefing up our online Support pages so quick answers are easier to find. We’re improving our software and firmware so it will enhance and refresh the capabilities of your MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers and Smart Extruders and make them work better for you. We’ll soon tell you when you can expect these new software releases and what they will contain. And we’ll be talking with you more and more, in every way we can, about what you can expect from MakerBot and our products.

Today, let’s talk about the Smart Extruder.


Why We Made the Smart Extruder
During our five years of conversations, MakerBot customers have identified these key extruder concerns:

–Workflow: When an extruder stops, work stops.
–Time: Customers don’t want to interrupt work to service extruders.
–Wear: Extruders naturally wear out.

The modular, easily swappable MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder addresses these challenges. The Smart Extruder enables you to:

–Minimize downtime.
–Plan ahead for natural wear.

We’re very excited about the possibilities the Smart Extruder design represents. That’s why it’s a central component of our most recent generation of 3D printers. 

Challenges and Tips
However, we’ve heard from some of you that you’re having challenges with your Smart Extruders. As avid 3D printers, we understand the frustration of failed prints and lost time. We get it. So we want to share some of our favorite Smart Extruder features and some helpful tips we’ve learned over the past few months.

Cooling Down and Careful Filament Loading Go a Long Way
To help prevent clogging, always let your printer fully complete the filament loading and unloading procedures. Never remove filament from the Smart Extruder before instructed to do so by your 3D printer’s control panel or MakerBot Desktop.

After finishing a print, your 3D printer cools the Smart Extruder to quickly harden melted filament. Always wait until your Smart Extruder has cooled to 50° C (122° F) before turning off your MakerBot 3D Printer. This process can take a few minutes, but if you turn off your 3D printer before the Smart Extruder is fully cooled, you risk a higher chance of a clog forming.

Smart Sensors Mean More Finished Jobs and Less Waste
The Smart Extruder’s sensors provide real-time feedback to your 3D printer’s motherboard, and MakerBot Desktop and MakerBot Mobile apps, and instantly pause a print when the absence of filament is detected.

These unique sensors save you time by letting you know when you need to change filament, minimizing the risk of losing a print. For example, if you note an issue with filament, you can easily swap out the Smart Extruder and finish your project.


Swapping a Smart Extruder Is Almost Effortless

Powerful magnets help snap your Smart Extruder firmly into place in just seconds. No tools required. If you include the time it takes to load and unload filament, you’re still back to printing in just minutes and your downtime is minimal. This swap-ability will also allow you to quickly adapt to changes (such as new filament materials) in the fast-evolving world of 3D printing.

For helpful Smart Extruder installation tips, see the links at the bottom of this post.

More On The Way
Thanks for your feedback. We’re listening and we’re determined to improve your MakerBot experience. In the coming weeks, we’ll regularly post additional tips and videos about the Smart Extruder and our MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers. And stay tuned for our list of coming software improvements and when you can expect them.

For more details about topics covered in this blog post, follow these links:

MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer
How to install the Smart Extruder
How to unload filament

MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer
How to install the Smart Extruder
How to unload filament

MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printer
How to install the Smart Extruder
How to unload filament

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Thingiverse | MakerBot Modio Challenge


Modio, the iPad app that lets you design and customize your own characters for 3D printing is now available on the iPhone, too. In celebration of this exciting news, we’re partnering with Modio to present the MakerBot Modio Challenge.

For the challenge, we want you to remix and reimagine Modio designs. Build, modify, invent, paint – anything goes!

Just upload your designs to Thingiverse with the tag #ModioChallenge before Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 11:59PM EST. Entries must be tagged #ModioChallenge to be considered and will be judged by a panel of MakerBot and Modio employees on creativity and printability.

We can’t wait to see what you make!

Read the complete Official Contest Rules.

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Innovator Sessions | Printing Your Own Opportunity


Ben Uyeda, the founder of DIY furniture design site, HomeMade Modern, believes 3D printers are a powerful shortcut between ideas and physical reality. His own MakerBot 3D Printer has been instrumental in his varied roles as an award-winning architect, an academic working with architecture students, as a designer evolving and testing ideas, and as an entrepreneur prototyping and developing products that can be shared and improved collaboratively.

In his presentation at the MakerBot Retail Store in Boston on Thursday, October 16th, 7:00 pm, Ben will discuss how 3D printers can create new opportunities for designers to create autonomous businesses and reach consumers directly. Space is limited, so register now.



Delivering Affordable Furniture Design
The mission at is to make modern design more affordable by distributing instructional design content. So far, their designs have reached over one million people. Hear how HomeMade Modern is using MakerBot 3D Printers to design and test furniture that combines 3D printed components with readily available inexpensive materials, and all the other exciting projects Ben is involved with ­— from conducting design/build workshops with students at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand to sustainable design initiatives and his plans for designing a 3D printed desk.

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MakerBot Digital Store | Three Heads Are Better than One


Introducing Storied Skulls, our newest collection of exquisitely designed, easy-to-print 3D models from the expert artists at the MakerBot Studio. This impressive trio includes a modern Ram Skull, a Saber-Toothed Cat Skull, and a mythological Dragon Skull.

Download, print, and display the full Storied Skulls collection now.

Download the Saber-Toothed Cat Skull from Thingiverse for Free
We think students, amateur paleontologists, and collectors alike will fall skull-over-heels for these cranial creations. But don’t take it from us: we’ve made the Saber-Toothed Cat Skull model available as a free download on Thingiverse.

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#WeeklyMake| Ocarina Time

WeeklyMake Ocarina on Thingiverse made with PLA filament

This week’s #WeeklyMake design is based on the wind instrument that’s believed to have been used in song and dance for 12,000 years. Its sonorous influence has permeated musical cultures around the world, in everything from mythology to video games. Now, it’s your turn to add to the ocarina legend.



Once you’ve downloaded and 3D printed your ocarina on your MakerBot Replicator Mini, attach the two halves of your instrument with an adhesive like non-toxic school glue. When it’s dry, learn to rock your favorite tune or make up your own ocarina overture.

Don’t forget to capture your best ocarina playing on video (or a vivid photo of your best air-ocarina performance), and share it on Twitter or Instagram with the tags #WeeklyMake and #OcarinaTime.

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MakerBot Events | Get Creative with Us at Maker Faire NYC

Calling all Makers!
Maker Faire is returning to New York on Sept. 20th and 21st and MakerBot will be there showcasing some of the amazing art you can make with MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers.
–Paint a 3D printed Zee Blank alongside acclaimed graphic artists
–Help celebrate the 45th season of Sesame Street by painting a nostalgic Mr. Snuffleupagus 3D print with Sesame Street artists
–Meet the designers behind Sesame Street
–Get a photo taken with cool 3D printed props at our photo booth
–Learn about the innovations making our latest generation of 3D printers in-demand tools for artists and designers everywhere

Find us at tent PV01 in the 3D Printing Village.

MakerBot Tent Schedule
Saturday Sept. 20th
–Evan Cheng & Vanessa Germosen  (Sesame Street artists): 10 am-12 noon
–Jessica Esper (Zee Artist): 12 noon – 3 pm
–Kip Rathke (Sesame Street artist): 3 pm – 5 pm
–Photo Booth: 11 am – 2 pm & 3 pm – 6 pm

Sunday Sept. 21st
–Theresa Fitzgerald (Sesame Street artist): 10 am – 1 pm
–Mike Clancey (Zee Artist): 2 pm – 5 pm
–Photo Booth: 11 am – 2 pm & 3 pm- 6 pm

What is the Maker Faire?
Maker Faire is an exciting and interactive gathering for forward-thinking DIY crafters, creators, artists, and tinkerers exploring new forms and new technologies to share their innovative ideas. Learn more.

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MakerBot Digital Store | Cool Classroom Downloads


Models made for learning
Looking for new and exciting ways to use your MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer in the classroom and beyond? The MakerBot Digital Store has the answer. We’re proud to announce the release of a series of new collections, designed with educators and students in mind and featuring one FREE download per collection.

Structures of Government
This architectural arrangement of MakerBot-designed models is a hands-on exploration of the three branches of American government. Get to know these halls of power on a whole new level when you download and print models of the White House, the Capitol, and the Supreme Court.


Challenges, events, and more
We’ll be releasing more engaging educational downloads throughout the fall, all paired with relevant Thingiverse Challenges and events at MakerBot Retail Stores. Don’t miss your chance to win great prizes and grab more free downloads from MakerBot.

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#WeeklyMake | Set Your Table in Style


FORMA – Napkin Ring by SimplusDesign | | 190923

Sebastian Misiurek and Arianna Lebed are the duo behind SimplusDesign, a studio based in Brooklyn, NY that specializes in 3D printable home goods. Their elegant napkin rings have a fascinatingly faceted geometric pattern, and will make an eye-catching addition to any dinner party.



Once you’ve 3D printed your set of napkin rings on your MakerBot Replicator Mini, make them the centerpiece at your next big occasion — be it a dinner party, baby shower, potluck, or picnic. Share photos of your rings in action on Twitter or Instagram, with the tags #WeeklyMake and #NapkinParty.

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MakerBot Digital Store | Zee Likes to Party


If you’re a frequent reader, you may recall that we recently introduced Zee, the MakerBot Blank, a 3D printable DIY figure inspired by Japanese vinyl toy culture and the charming, rotund design of the MakerBot Around Town collection.

To launch Zee, we asked artists from all over the world to custom decorate their own and we captured their creations in a commemorative publication, The Zee Issue. Then, we threw a party in true MakerBot style.

Launch Event at the MakerBot Retail Store
On a Thursday night in August, artists, innovators, and collectible figure enthusiasts gathered at the MakerBot Retail Store on Mulberry Street in New York. Guests were treated to a display of featured artwork from The Zee Issue and also had the chance to hand-paint Zee figurines, including this super-sized Zee centerpiece.


See more of their creations and pics from the party.

Like What You Zee?
You can purchase Zee from the MakerBot Digital Store and 3D print it for yourself at home. Don’t own a MakerBot 3D Printer? Stop by the MakerBot Retail Store and scoop up a Zee Starter Kit, which comes with a 3D printed Zee figurine and a set of 10 POSCA acrylic paint markers. Either way, don’t forget to share your creations with us by on Twitter and Instagram with the tag #MakerBotBlank.

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#WeeklyMake | Introducing Mysterabbit


Artist Ji Lee and his team created Mysterabbit to break people out of their daily routines and help them recognize the beauty of everyday life. As part of the project, he enlists volunteers to place his tiny 3D printed meditating rabbit sculptures in unexpected locations.



Once you’ve 3D printed a Mysterabbit on your MakerBot Replicator Mini, capture a photo of your print in an unexpected location, and share your photos with everyone on Twitter or Instagram with the tags #WeeklyMake and #Mysterabbit.

To see more photos documenting Mysterabbit’s worldwide travels, visit the project’s website.

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