IMPORTANT UPDATE: We’ve seen significant improvements to print quality and reliability with MakerBot Desktop 3.4 and MakerBot Firmware 1.5. If you haven’t already, please download the latest version of MakerBot Desktop and then use it to update your MakerBot Firmware. NOTE: When printing files via the USB port, your printer’s internal storage, or your Library, reprepare (reslice) them through MakerBot Desktop to achieve the best results. Files that are not reprepared (resliced) will not achieve best results.
Felix Olivieri has worked in a few different art-supply stores over the years. So when he and his wife, Sarah, decided to open Olivieri’s Arts, Crafts, & Coffee in Kingston, a Hudson River town a couple of hours north of New York City, he knew what he wanted: hard-to-find specialty paints and pencils, a coffee bar with a kids’ art table nearby, display cases made from repurposed furniture, and a MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer, which belongs to “the world of art of the future.”
Olivieri had used 3D modeling software, but he’d never made anything on a 3D printer before ordering one for the new store. “Once I got it in, first thing I did was set it up, sit there with a cup of coffee, and watch it print,” he says. “And every day since, people do the exact same thing: They walk in, say, ‘I’ve never seen one of these up close,’ and spend the next 20 minutes sipping coffee, watching it print — and then buy another cup of coffee.”
The Olivieris found some fixtures for the store — hooks, clips, small shelves — on Thingiverse, and made them on the MakerBot Replicator Mini. Felix made nametags for Sarah and other employees using MakerBot PrintShop. The app, which makes custom signs and objects, has been an effective way of explaining 3D printing to his customers.
The Learning Curve
Olivieri has gone through a learning curve with the MakerBot Replicator Mini, learning design tricks and discovering new features, and he has hit some frustrations along the way. “If you unload the filament too soon, that’s when you’re most likely have a misprint,” he says. He has learned to be patient, and wait for the MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder to cool down first. “Five or ten minutes is not going to slow down your day,” he says.
Caring for The Extruder
“Anything like that is going to get clogged up if you don’t take care of it,” Olivieri says of the extruder. When the Olivieris bought a 3D printer, they also got the MakerBot MakerCare Protection Plan, and he has worked with MakerBot’s support team to troubleshoot and, when it was necessary, to replace his Smart Extruder. Olivieri suggests having a spare Smart Extruder on hand in case you run into issues, so you can keep on printing. Expect challenges, Olivieri says, “but don’t let it get you down when it happens. The worst thing you can do is give up.”
Olivieri’s excitement about 3D printing is contagious. “I want to inspire people. I want to educate people,” he says. “It takes people a little bit to grasp what they want to print themselves.” As he demonstrates the MakerBot Replicator Mini for a curious group of schoolchildren, you can see their eyes being opened to a not-too-distant future when “everything is convenient, everything is at your fingertips. Hit print, there you go.”