Archive for March 15th, 2011

Thing-O-Matic Stepstruder MK6 Lookbook

Frequently, we find ourselves bragging about the MakerBot Operators for the incredible models they continue to upload to Well, it is high time to direct attention to the prints they are posting as well. In particular, prints accomplished using our latest toolhead, the MakerBot Stepstruder MK6.

Just in time for the coming of spring1, here’s a fashion-forward lookbook of recent, gorgeous MK6 prints. Printing these items on a MakerBot before the MK6 would have been a feat.

emmetttwotimesMakeALot and many others are truly rocking their MK6 and giving us all prints2 to aspire to.

Spiral Pencil/Candle/Toothbrush Cup printed by emmett

3D Knot (hi-res) printed by emmett

Diagrid Bracelet printed by jag

domekit printed by twotimes

Truss Bridge Kit printed by Herb Hoover

Iris Box v2 printed by MakeALot

Nick Starno, lead designer on the MK6, has been watching the experimentation of the users of the new toolhead eagerly. “This is just the beginning,” he says.

Here’s a detail from Operator emmett from one of his photo notes, with insight into his process:

Printed beautifully on a TOM, Mk6, raftless with no support. I did have to remove the first few mm of the stl though, just so it had some decent flat areas for adhesion to the belt.

Are your Stepstruder prints really rocking? Share the photo at Thingiverse and then drop a message to us at support at makerbot dot com with a link to your prints!

  1. Spring is coming after all, right? []
  2. and skeinforge settings []
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Photos from UK MakerFaire

MakerBot Operator Stewart Starbuck let us know about his experience last weekend at the inaugural UK MakerFair. He’s provided a nice pack of photos from the event to check out. In the tradition of MakerFaire, it looks like a good time was had by all, and there was an abundance of 3D Printers!

Here’s a snip from Stewart’s report.

“I’ve completely worn out, but here they are, some of the pictures taken
from MakerFaire:

It was an amazing event, which I would recommend to everyone.  I was really pleased to see such a huge interest in 3d Printing. There were a number of stands with printers, including a strong contingent from the RepRap folks, and all reported having had lots of positive feedback
from the public….We were printing out keychains (taking around 3 minutes each) that proved to be very popular. We couldn’t print them fast enough to keep up with demand. Seeing peoples faces when they watched the MakerBots print a piece all the way through then to take it with them was just simply awesome.

The wealth of other projects at the faire is just too great to put into words. There are lot of amazing people out there with some truly remarkable ideas, many of which will hopefully go on to change the world for the better!”

We hope so too, and thank you Stewart and Nick, and congratulations to everyone at UK MakerFaire!

Check out Stewart’s photostream here.

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Robotic Tentacle Arm by J_Hodgie

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This is a project in process, but one that caught my attention. One step closer to making a tentacle bot to knock the completed parts from my Thing-O-Matic!

Error - could not find Thing 6986.
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Tested’s MakerBot on Tekzilla!

Will Smith who runs his MakerBot weekly over on Tested was on Tekzilla this week. Check it out!

Make sure to catch the Tested Weekly Mystery Object too!

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Open Source Laser Cutting/Engraving Station from

The 2.x Laser - Open Source Hardware Laser Cutter

As the Open Hardware movement takes off, evidence of the benefits of this practice continues to surface in projects such as the 2.x Laser project, a 2nd generation open source laser cutting/engraving station created by Barton Dring over at Dring made significant modifications to his first model based on continued experimentation and feedback from participants at BuildLog.net1. His design shifted from a focus on designing-for-self-replication “to a more robust design with stronger metal parts.”

As a result of the efforts of Dring and the community, a hardy DIY lasering tool with a 12” x 20” x 4” work envelop — a tool that would be, frankly, quite dangerous to design from the ground up on your own — shifts from a cool CNC experiment to a low cost alternative to commercial models. At the moment, all that is available is a Bill of Materials and assembly instructions2, but Dring estimates that sourcing the 2-axis CNC elements might cost you $450-$800 depending on your available tools3, with the CO2 laser and power modules costing at least another $400. He plans to resume offering kits for the parts not easy to obtain elsewhere via BuildLog in a few weeks.

BuildLog 2x Laser wiring

  1. A site self-described as “the open source equivalent of the research notebook.” []
  2. prototype parts kits have sold out []
  3. Having a MakerBot at your disposal sure wouldn’t hurt. []
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Clockwork Variations

Broken gears are a sign of progress

Broken gears are a sign of progress

I originally called this “Project RoboSpider,” but I’ve decided “Clockwork Spider” is significantly cooler.  Once I had printed the original “RoboSpider” parts, I noticed a few problems.  I’m hoping that someone else might be able to make use of the lessons I learn in designing and printing this multi-part mechanism.

  1. Don’t make parts too thin. The parts I printed tended to be designed too thin.  If you are designing a multi-part mechanism, don’t skimp on plastic and make the parts unnecessarily thin or small.  My original gears and cogs were 2mm thick.  The problem was that it was easy enough for the teeth in one gear to simply miss the other thin gear.  My new design uses gears that are 5mm thick and they never miss one another.
  2. Don’t use vertically printed snap parts. I printed all the parts using a vertical resolution of 0.25.  Dave Durant was right, this is basically a sweet spot for printing.  It’s quick enough that I’m not waiting forever for parts, the resolution is high enough that it looks pretty amazing, and layers close together enough delamination just isn’t an issue. 1  All of the gears were designed with prongs so that they could be snap-fit to the chassis.  My first attempt at these failed because the prongs were so incredibly thin they couldn’t be printed.  My second attempt failed because the prongs just snapped off as they were flexed to go through the hole in the chassis.
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel… or gear.  The gears in my original designs were very very home brew, and it showed.  I just created a flat cylinder and extended a bunch of small cubes off the edge.  You can build a gear such as this easily in OpenSCAD, but using the “module” command makes it SOOoooooOOOOOooo much easier. 2   However, there was a lot of trial and error for me in getting the length, width, and space between the gear teeth properly proportioned.  For my second revision, I designed the gears over from scratch using MCAD, Greg Frost’s Involute Spur Gear Script, and cbiffle’s Spur Gear Fitter Script to create gears that meshed well.  Yes, it is more work to learn how to incorporate others’ works in your own, but you also get to benefit from their knowledge, experience, and expertise.  You’ll also save time by not having to print a bunch of crappy gears that don’t work.  😉
  4. Ask for help.Thingiverse citizen Dna responded to my call for a rubber band powered motor with his Rubber Band Ratchet Engine.  My second revision benefited from Dna’s comments and input, as well as from getting to modify my designs to work with an alpha version of his rubber band engine.  And, last but not least, for creating this super sweet video of a variation on the clockwork spider in action:
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What lessons do you have for others creating multi-part mechanisms?

  1. Dave Durant: “You can go down to tweaking it by 0.25 if you want but any more than that is overkill, IMO. Other variables (ambient temperature, filament inconsistencies, how well X/Y rods are oiled, etc) can effect the print more than tweaking that much. If you can get it to 0.25, you’re going to be really happy with the prints.” []
  2. What’s that?  I haven’t covered modules in OpenSCAD?  Don’t worry – they’re easy and actually a lot of fun. []
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Open3DP Working on Powder Printer

The awesome crew over at Open3DP at the UW have birthed a new species of open 3D printer: Adderfab!

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