Tips and Tricks for Traveling with a MakerBot

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It’s fun to take a MakerBot out into the world and blow people’s minds with 3D printing! I have a whole routine around taking a MakerBot out and about. Here are some tips and trips I wrote down for you for when you travel with a MakerBot.

  • For short trips around town, I just tuck the cords away, throw my tools and plastic in a backpack and carry it as is. Its very fun carrying it on the public transit and always starts conversations.
  • For longer trips, you’ll want a Pelican 1620 case which is the best investment I’ve ever made in travel gear. Between me and the baggage handlers, we’ve  brutalized this case and it has kept my MakerBot safe. The weight of the pelican with everything in it is always 42 pounds.
  • Be nice to the people at the airport. Always explain that you have a 3D printing robot with you and would be happy to tell the TSA about it and answer any questions. Bonus points for converting them into Operators. I’ve seen TSA folks deal with the most unpleasant people in the world. If you are friendly and use your best manners, it goes a long way with them. Having an awesome robot in a bag can make you a ray of sunshine in their day.
  • Having a copy of Make: Magazine with the MakerBot on the cover helps explain what a MakerBot is to TSA type folks.
  • I pack a box with tools and a spare parts kit. I bring a small screwdriver, pliers, metric allen keys, flashlight, tweezers, xacto knife, sd card reader, extra ethernet cable, extra ttl cable, a pen, kapton tape and some blue tape. I also throw in a little baggy of extra m5 and m3 nuts and bolts. All this goes in the checked pelican case.
  • I take about 2-3 pounds of plastic. The most I can go through in a week is less than  a pound printing full time, but you never know when an Icelandic Volcano is going to keep you stranded in Berlin for an extra 5-1000 days. (Knocking on wood that I get home on Friday)
  • I use a heated build platform with sanded down kapton, but I always bring an acrylic platform as a backup.
  • I bring a spare parts kit and an extra plastruder with an extra extruder controller on it when I’m going to be away for a while. MakerBot plastruders can be fussy. I’m good at building them reliable  and I haven’t needed my spare in a long time, but it’s always handy to have one spare so I can just switch them up if I get a jam or the teeth need flossing. I like to be prepared for worst case scenarios.
  • It’s always great to have a bunch of printed parts to show including a bottle opener, eliptical gears, unfold’s head, and the whale tooth.
  • My laptop works as a boombox to play daft punk and ward away gremlins.
  • Check the regional groups page to see if the place you’re visiting has a MakerBot community, connect with them!

What would you add to this list? Make your own suggestions in the comments!

Photo Credit: kk+ took this at Gnomedex last year.