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The Makerbot is now printing objects!


This describes the current progress of the building of the Makerbot. Instructions are found here, and a forum for it is found here.

Noisebridge's Makerbot kit, thoughtfully purchased by Mitch, arrived at 83C on Monday evening, July 20. Leading the assembly team is Joachim, along with Christoph, Rachel, Steve (Mr Domino), and Jeffrey (ieatlint).

It took about an hour and a half to go through and check the parts against the parts list. We think we are missing a bag of "laser cut pulleys" but it's hard to be completely sure, as there are a LOT of parts and they are not all labeled exactly as in the parts list A bag of "laser cut pulleys" was replaced by MakerBot-made pulleys, but the parts lists weren't updated. We determined to start assembly anyway.

Cupcake Electronics Assembly

Instructions Christoph soldering one of the stepper motor drivers, one of the endstop switches, and the SMD parts on the motherboard with only occasional bitching to people to STOP MOVING THE TABLE.

Motherboard is tested and able to control stepper motors. Regular firmware needs to be flashed back onto it. This may help. Ieatlint 02:55, 25 July 2009 (PDT)

Cupcake Pulley Assembly


Cupcake CNC Body Assembly

We got the first part of the body together without difficulty, but had trouble with the Z stage as one of the parts had changed from when the docs were written. The Z stage rod holding guides changed from being O-shaped to being U-shaped, and are marked "Z guides". The forums told us to use them anyway.

The next problem was with threaded rods, which had been cut to size. The ends of some would not take a nut. We solved this with judicious use of the bench grinder. There were LOTS of nut/rod jokes, and we were in a state where they were actually funny! Rachel 10:08, 21 July 2009 (PDT)

Progressed to and including the step entitled "Z-stage stepper wiring" as detailed on the body assembly instructions. The body assembly is nearly completed. Ieatlint 03:52, 21 July 2009 (PDT)

Stages assembled and motherboard and stepper driver circuits in place. Driver boards are tested. Axis stops are installed, platforms still need craft stick beam breaks installed. -- JSharp 06:45, 2 August 2009 (PDT)

Cupcake Y Stage Assembly


Cupcake X Stage Assembly


Plastruder MK3 Assembly


  • Note: Ubuntu 9.04 specific: the and the RXTXcomm.jar that come in the replicatorg download need to be replaced with some binaries from this other place that I don't remember. -Skory
  • Progressed through to end of Heater Barrel Assembly. Miloh 04:24, 21 July 2009 (PDT)
  • Progressed through the Filament Drive Assembly, and Joachim mastered the extruder electronics. Miloh 02:03, 24 July 2009 (PDT)
  • Progressed through Attach Heater barrel through step 3. Miloh 13:17, 24 July 2009 (PDT)
  • Progressed through Attach Heater barrel to the end. Miloh 20:46, 26 July 2009 (PDT)
Continue at Plastruder burn in test.  The burn in test can't be completed until the Thermistor and extruder board are recognized by the control system.
  • Plastruder board burnt out a few components on power up test. Ordered new plastruder driver from makerbot, should arrive at 83C soon. -- JSharp 06:43, 2 August 2009 (PDT)
    • New plastruder control board received and installed. -- JSharp 10:52, 9 August 2009 (PDT)

Status Reports


Martin - The makerbot is working and printing objects well. You will need to download and install "ReplicatorG" and "skeinforge" in order to use the bot. The software runs on Mac, Linux, and PC. (skeinforge requires Python, ReplicatorG requires Java) Example objects are next to the bot.

The X/Y/Z stage endpoints are not yet installed. It requires a number of popsicle sticks to be cut to the correct length and the stage to be calibrated. You can operate the MakerBot with ***great*** care without them.

The extruder head has been upgraded to the Mark-4, with a new bearing and idler wheel. Also, the extruder head is now insulated with the same material they use to insulate the Space Shuttle heat tiles from the skin of the shuttle itself. *** IT IS EXPENSIVE. PLEASE DON'T TAKE APART! *** I can't replace the material, it was given as a gift from a friend at JPL.

Please read all the instructions on how to use the MakerBot on the [Wiki Site] before attempting to use it.


Thanks to excellent efforts and support from Martin, the MakerBot is now in a semi-functional state. There are three things that need to be worked on, however:

  1. The Y stage endpoint is installed incorrectly (the Y stage and physically crash into it)
  2. The nichrome wire needs to be better insulated so it can maintain higher temperatures and consistent temperatures.
  3. The feeding mechanism needs to be reviewed, as it appears that it fails to operate reliably.

Please do NOT attempt to disassemble the plastruder header. Also, do NOT attempt to operate the MakerBot unless you really know what you're doing.


Much has happened to the Makerbot since last noted, the broken idler wheel was replaced and the extruder head assembly was upgraded by me using parts from Bre when he was here. Thanks Bre! I also at that time upgraded the firmware and printed a bunch of skull throwies, yay! Time has passed between then and now and many people have been reporting the makerbot in sickly condition, after much testing I am glad to report this not the case. go go makerbot!


Bre was here on 20/2 and installed a heated build platform on the Makerbot. The heated platform is a new development, still in prototype stage. It is awesome because it prevents warping, and allows workpieces to stick to the build platform without having to build a raft.

He left a sheet of instructions, they say:

"... While here we set you up with a heated build platform. It's hooked up to the fans pot. So before you print, go into the control panel and click [x] fan and it will turn it on. Let it warm up for at least 5 minutes and then print on it. When the model is done, let it cool for 5 minutes and it will 'pop' right off the warm kapton tape.

We are also leaving you a spare parts kit for the extruder. Your nozzle is super thick and slow. This new nozzle has a smaller nozzle hole. Make it, use it, love it!

Bre and Zack, Makerbot"

When asked about the workings of the heated build platform, he said:

"Yup, ours is a prototype part, it's awesome but not very well documented.

You want to plug it in above the mosfet that usually runs the fan.

You can then go into the control panel and just turn the fan on, let it heat up for 8-10 minutes and it will get to about 110F.

Print away and remember to turn it off and unplug the bot when you're done!"

Please note that he's left us the parts for an improved extruder - up to us to build it - and some of the new colored ABS plastic.


After using the makerbot all day I (fenn) noticed the Z axis was consistently jamming up when traversing above 125mm/min. Several hours of head-scratching later I discovered that the heated platform would cause the large acrylic plate that holds the extruder to heat up and expand, pushing outwards on the Z-axis nuts and causing the mechanism to bind ever so slightly. The simple fix of filing the plate down was complicated by the lack of small files and the fact that the machine was assembled wrong, requiring removal of the four small u-shaped plywood "guide plates", which I put back in the correct orientation: gap outwards.

I'm not sure the heated build platform actually ever gets hot enough for ABS to stick to the kapton tape. It seems to max out at 95 celsius, as measured with an infrared thermometer. The RepRap wiki suggests 120-220 degrees for ABS. Perhaps connect the platform directly to a higher voltage power supply?

Lacking a hot enough bed for the first layer to stick to, blue masking tape sorta almost works (the first time you use it), and I got much better results when I taped a business card on top and printed on that instead. I printed a few gears and hope to add a "wade extruder" soonish.


I (fenn) came in today and it appeared that nobody had touched the makerbot since I last left it. But the nozzle wouldn't heat up. Voltage to the wires, it just didnt get hot. So, heeding the warning to not disassemble the nozzle, I removed it and swapped in another one, which works a lot better anyway. Then I attached a 16V transformer to the heated bed, and now it gets up to 165C which is much better than the old 90C running on 12V. Now the first layer actually sticks! Z axis seems to still be jamming up; I didn't file the notches deep enough I guess. Wish I had more time to play with it. Skeinforge settings that seem to work with ABS: layer height: 0.4mm, flow rate: 255, feed rate: 25mm/s.


added a fan to cool off the acrylic plate. make sure you enable the fan before printing and it shouldn't jam up anymore. seems to be working reliably now.

hint: instead of trying to adjust the Z zero in software, manually adjust the height as it prints the first layer.

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