Make a Custom MakerBot Body on Ponoko!


You can now make a custom MakerBot body on Ponoko. We’re obsessively open source and the MakerBot Cupcake CNC files have been available for download from Thingiverse from the moment we launched. Up until now making your own bot has required having your own lasercutter. MakerBot was really made possible because we bought a lasercutter that Adam, Zach, and I share with the others at the NYCResistor hackerspace. Witha lasercutter, we could create lots of prototypes in a short amount of time. Ponoko lets you do this too. It is like having your own lasercutter on demand. Ponoko lets people innovate and then you can upload your designs and then Ponoko will lasercut them and ship it to you. It’s cool. We’ve put our files up on Ponoko’s site and you can have them lasercut them out of lots of different materials and send them to you. We’ve been working with Derek over at Ponoko and he’s set up our files and arranged them in a friendly way so that it’s easy for folks to download the files, modify them if you want and get them made by Ponoko. Want to get your MakerBot made out of Bamboo or get a custom body? Ponoko can handle it.

This may seem a little weird since we are a business and we don’t make any money when people get our designs made on Ponoko. The good thing is that for folks who want just the lasercut parts for the MakerBot body and the extruder that will just work, you can buy them pre-made from us. Having open source designs is a great thing for us. We’ve already seen some folks create scratch built MakerBots and the amount of innovation that comes back into the design when people do things on their own and try new things out and then reshare them with the community is one of those things that demonstrates how awesome it is to share and allow others to innovate with our design files.

Making your own custom MakerBot case is cool because we release our files under an open source license that allows you to download the files to understand and do things with them. If you make any changes, you are required to publish your changes so the community can see the innovations you’ve made. It’s kinda like you get to stand on our shoulders, but you have to let others stand on your shoulders.


We encourage people to share pictures and their modified designs is on our site Thingiverse. If you make a MakerBot you can go to the MakerBot page on Thingiverse and click the “I Made One” button.


Then you can choose to either upload a picture or if you’ve changed the design, you can upload your modified design files and you’re all set! This makes it easy for you get recognized for your work, reshare your innovation with the open source 3D printer community and meet the terms of the license and expectations of the open source 3D printing community. I can’t quite imagine someone standing on someone else’s shoulders and then the bottom person standing on the top person’s shoulders, but the image I get in my mind is a mobius strip of wonderful innovation!

There are a few things to lookout for. We stand behind the MakerBot lasercut pieces because they have our name on them. If you get these files lasercut by Ponoko, you’re doing so at your own risk. When you buy from Ponoko, you’re blazing a trail into new and exciting territory and we think it’s awesome, but if they don’t fit together, remember that’s part of the innovation process! As a guideline, we’ve found that any material you make these designs from should be no thicker than 5mm or the slots just won’t fit.

You can get a MakerBot in Acrylic on Ponoko and it will look HOT, but keep in mind that acrylic has the property of having a binary fail if you screw in your bolts a smidge too tight. The good news is you’ll be able to put it back together with superglue.

Besides the lasercut files, we’ve set up our Ponoko showroom to include the Laserless kit provided by us so that you’ll be able to combine your custom lasercut parts with a laserless kit to equal one basic kit. You can also add the deluxe upgrade kit on the Ponoko site which gives you a bunch of plastic and tools and a power supply, effectively making your kit a deluxe kit.

Traditional people who don’t get open source may shake their heads at us, but we know that being open with our designs and letting people innovate on them and reshare them is a key part of pushing the open source personal manufacturing revolution forward! It is the most exciting time ever to be involved in designing and making things!

Got questions? Drop a note in the comments! Ponoko has written it up too!