Archive for September 24th, 2010

Volunteer Helps Prepare Botfarm for Maker Faire

A few months ago, Armando Mendez had never heard of a MakerBot. As soon as he did, he bought one, and has been an avid MakerBot Operator ever since. He even started a lab automation consultation business, with help from his MakerBot. As a field support engineer for a pharmaceuticals research company, he is an expert in robotic machines that do things like handle liquids. Now that he has a MakerBot he can build broken or missing robot parts for his clients.

Armando has generously donated his time (he’s in-between jobs) to help prepare the Botfarm for the upcoming NYC Maker Faire. He has learned a ton since getting his own MakerBot, and is happy to be volunteering at the Botcave. “I believe in what’s going on here,” he told me.

This afternoon Armando was troubleshooting the temperature control system on one of the MakerBots. He’ll be volunteering a few days this week and at Maker Faire on Saturday. Thanks, Armando!

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Getting the Botfarm Ready for Maker Faire

MakerBots are multiplying at the Botcave daily as the MakerBot Industries team – with help from a few volunteers – furiously build MakerBots for the MakerBot Botfarm™ at Maker Faire.

Every MakerBot will be equipped with the newly announced MakerBot Automated Build Platform, enabling continuous printing all day long. As Zach Hoeken explained, after the MakerBot Botfarm is set-up, the plan is to “just kick back and let the robots do the work.”

There are already about 19 MakerBots roaming around the Botcave, in various states of completion. We’re planning to have 16 MakerBots at Maker Faire, but if more are ready to go then we’ll just have to make room.

Each machine will churn out parts all day – key chains, monkeys, violins, aliens, bottle openers, rings, bracelets and butterfly ornaments.

Come visit our booth at Maker Faire and watch the Botfarm in action!

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A NEW printer???

On Wednesday Bre revealed MakerBot has a new printer in the works1  Frankly, I have a tough time imagining what a new printer would be like. 2  With an Automated Build Platform, which incorporates a heated build surface, and a MK5 Plastruder you’ve got just about everything you could want out of a 3D printer.

I’ve been really impressed with my MK5 Plastruder.  I’ve been pretty lucky and rarely have filament jams, so I haven’t seen any improvements going from a MK4 to the MK5.  However, it’s given me a really smooth, even extrusion.  With my MK4 I noticed very slight imperfections in the ABS rafts and layers – like small bubbles and imperfections in the extrusion every few millimeters.  With my MK5, these have been almost eliminated.  I’ve also noticed that the minor blobs that used to occur when the Cupcake raised the Z platform have gotten smaller.  I haven’t made many changes to the Skeinforge profile, so I tempted to attribute this improvement to the new plastruder.  Perhaps one of the coolest improvements is the ease with which I can now swap filament.  The MK4 system for pulling out a filament required me to slowly back the filament out using ReplicatorG.  The Paxtruder-inspired Delrin plug can be loosened, filament yanked out of a warm plastruder, new filament jammed in, and the plug tightened back up in 10-15 seconds.  I can definitely tell you this makes me far more likely to swap out colors.  In fact, I’m tempted to try swapping out colors part way through a build, just to see what happens.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to fire up my heated or automated build platforms yet, so I can’t comment on their utility.  However, I’m keenly aware of just how much even a minor temperature increase can improve a build’s quality.  I’ve noticed that after about two print jobs my acrylic build platform is slightly warm to the touch.  This might be due to having a few warm layers of plastic on it – or might just be due to the slightly increased ambient temperature inside the Cupcake caused by the warm plastic, power supply, and from the plastruder.  In any case, even this slight temperature increase has been enough to cause a second and especially a third print job to noticeably more flat than preceding print jobs.  Having a print bed that gets more than just slightly warm must be pretty great.

I’ve never wanted or needed to print anything larger than my current build size.  Besides, that would also increase the build time.  I’m just not that patient.  😉

So, just what the heck could a new printer possibly bring to the table?  Or, more importantly, what would you want to see in a new printer?

  1. Photo courtesy of jmtimages []
  2. I guess that’s why I just blog about their developments and they’re the ones who actually dream up new robots! []
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