Scroll down for more information about how to use your MakerBot 3D Printer and MakerBot software. For MakerBot set-up questions, go to www.makerbot.com/getstarted.
How MakerBot Works
Explore the key technologies that work together to make MakerBot 3D Printers possible.
FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling
MakerBot's 3D Printers rely on a technology called Fused Deposition Modeling or FDM. It uses an extruder, which acts similar to a hot glue gun. Plastic filament is fed in through the top, is melted at 215℃, and finally is “extruded” out of a small nozzle into the layers that build a 3D print.
MakerBot 3D Printers know where to move using a three dimensional cartesian coordinate system which defines every point of a 3D model with a unique position along the X, Y, and Z axes. The coordinates are fed to the printer from MakerBot Print and MakerBot Mobile.
MakerBot PLA Filament
MakerBot PLA Filament is the best and most consistent filament optimized for use in MakerBot 3D Printers. Safe for the classroom, office, or home, this filament is non-toxic and easy-to-print with minimal warping or curling.
MakerBot Tough Filament
Created for engineers and designers, MakerBot Tough Filament allows you to print durable, high-impact strength prototypes and fixtures. This filament is tested and optimized to print reliably and easily with the Tough Smart Extruder+.
Step 1: 3D File
In order to 3D print, you must have a 3D file. Here are a few ways to get a file:
Design an object to print in a 3D modeling or CAD program.
Scan an existing object with a 3D scanner.
Step 2: Prepare
Before sending a 3D file to your MakerBot, you must prepare the file. Preparing an object in our softwares translates your objects into a language the 3D printer can understand. This is referred to as slicing.
MakerBot Print is free software that optimizes and streamlines the 3D printing process. It allows you to discover, prepare, manage, and share 3D prints.
Rafts and Supports
Print with Overhangs
An overhang is when a layer extends outward, potentially unsupported, over the previous layer.
If your models have overhangs greater than 68 degrees (measured from the vertical axis) for MakerBot PLA Printers, then you will need to print with support material.
What Are Rafts & Supports?
Supports are printed scaffolding for overhangs. You can turn on supports in MakerBot Print.
A Raft helps with adhesion to the build plate by laying down an even flat foundation. Rafts are turned on by default in MakerBot Print.
Both rafts and supports are physically removed after the print is finished. Once rafts and supports are removed, your model is complete!
Infill is the support structure inside your object. Changing Infill affects your print’s density. A higher percentage will result in a more solid object, while 0% infill will make your object hollow.
Number of Shells
Shells are the outer layers that make up the surface of your prints. Adding more shells does not affect its external dimensions, but can make your object stronger.
Layer Height and Print Resolution
Layer Height, also known as Print Resolution, changes the surface quality of a 3D print. Low resolution means the layers are thicker, objects print faster, and the surface quality is rougher. High resolution means the layers are thinner, objects print slower, and the surface is smoother. We suggest printing at our standard print quality.
Low 0.3mm (300 microns)
Standard 0.2mm (200 microns)
High 0.1mm (100 microns)
Step 3: Print
Follow these steps before printing: Attach your extruder and build plate to your MakerBot 3D Printer, then load the filament. If you have any questions about your specific model MakerBot 3D printer, please refer to the manuals at support.makerbot.com/learn
Once a print has begun, you can monitor its progress from MakerBot Print or MakerBot Mobile. Your MakerBot 3D Printer will need to be connected to a network over Wi-Fi or Ethernet to monitor remotely.
Learn how to sand your 3D prints to create an amazing surface finish, or prepare them for painting or silicone molding.
Learn how to create a nearly automotive quality paint job on any of your 3D prints.
MakerBot NYC Training
Get scaled up on your MakerBot 3D Printers faster with hands-on, education-specific sessions taught by MakerBot's knowledgeable, friendly experts.
MakerBot Certified Trainers
Your teachers, team, or staff can quickly learn about our products and solutions in The MakerBot Fundamentals Workshop. It's a 3-hour session conducted by a MakerBot Certified Trainer near you.
Free 3D Design Program Overview
Learn all about how 3D files are created in this overview that covers 3D scanning, popular 3D design programs, and popular websites for downloading 3D files, like MakerBot Thingiverse.
3D Design Tips and Tricks
In this webinar, Drew Lentz, a 3D design expert on the MakerBot Learning Team, offers tips on topics like overhangs, build plate orientation, print-in-place assemblies, and more.