MakerBot Learning Tips: What is MakerBot Desktop?


Accessible, reliable desktop 3D printing is about more than having the right piece of equipment. It’s about having a full set of reliable, easy-to-use solutions that streamline your 3D printing experience from start to finish. At MakerBot, that’s why your experience is so important to us. 

It all starts with a 3D printable file. Within Thingiverse, there’s more than 1.6 million 3D designs, most of which are free. There, you can also alter or enhance designs with any one of our community’s new apps. Let’s say you’ve found a file there, created a 3D file in a CAD program, or generated one from a 3D scanner, like the MakerBot Digitizer.

From there, MakerBot Desktop software allows you to manage, prepare, print, and share your 3D creations. You can also fine tune layout and print settings for the best results. Since our reliable, accessible 3D printers are Wi-Fi enabled, you can print seamlessly and remotely manage or monitor your progress on the MakerBot Mobile app. All along the way, our online support site and expert support team are there for you, whether you have questions or need to minimize downtime.

Even with these solutions, we want to ensure that you can get the most from your 3D printing experience. In this series of MakerBot Learning Tips, we offer four video tutorials and blog posts with essential info and best practices for MakerBot Desktop. We cover: What is MakerBot Desktop?, How to Lay Out Files, Print Settings, and Exporting Files.


What is MakerBot Desktop?

MakerBot Desktop is where all your prints will begin. Before you can set up a 3D print, you first need to import design files that are the right type for anything that you want to 3D print. Those two formats are .OBJ or .STL files. They can be found on Thingiverse and on many different 3D printing websites. MakerBot Desktop can also open it’s own file format .Thing.

Within MakerBot Desktop, you can find a file to prepare through the Explore button. Explore brings you to Thingiverse the largest 3D design community in the world with more than 1.6 million designs. The vast majority of which are free to download. You can also prepare any files already saved on your computer with Add File.

Once you’ve prepared your file, you can either print it on our current  Replicator 3D printer or export it. Exporting allows you to save your file to a USB drive or to an SD card for printing later. With USB, you can print on our latest 3D printers and with an SD card, you can print on older models. Whether printing directly or exporting, your file will be “sliced”. Slicing is an essential process with two purposes in MakerBot Desktop. It breaks down a 3D file into “slices” or 2D layers that can be printed one on top of another, similar to a multilayer birthday cake. It also tells your 3D printer in what order to print each layer.


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You can save a printable file by clicking Export Print File or Print. Every time your file is sliced, it’s converted to a .makerbot file, if you have our most current MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer. If you have an older MakerBot 3D Printer, slicing will convert your file to a X3G, S3G, or GCode file. These files are only readable by your 3D printer so it’s a good idea to keep your original .STL and .OBJ files.

For many people, desktop 3D printing can seem like rocket science at first. Whether you just purchased a new MakerBot 3D Printer, are a seasoned pro, or were thinking of buying, we want your experience with our products to be easy, straightforward, and reliable. We hope these MakerBot Learning Tips help.