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Noisebridge 3D Printing for Beginners[edit]

The focus of this page is on understanding the layout of Noisebridge, getting beginners up to speed. If you are interested in adding to this group you can contact Romyilano

Rough Draft[edit]

Noisebridge 3D Printing workspace[edit]

3D printing space

The Noisebridge 3D printing workspace is in the "front" next to the HackerStackers. I was just informed by a friendly Noisebridge member that they are shifting the space around and expanding it.

Hardware/3D Printing Workstation PC[edit]

There is a Windows PC inbetween the laser cutter and the Makerbot 3D printers. It is used for game development, 3D Printing and using the laser cutter. Since it has so many uses it is probably wise to be polite and ask anyone if they are waiting on you to print or cut something.

  • Magnavox Monitor - sometimes the monitor is blank. This might be a little obvious and i bet a lot of people are too scared to ask why it isn't working (i sort of was), but you just have to tap the channel buttons on the top + and - until you reach the PC. I think the monitor even serves as a television set so don't be surprised if you pop onto the news.
  • Login as guest is sufficient
    • There is a lasercutter login, so I'm guessing you don't have to be in the lasercutter login. I am guessing that this is for awesome lasercutting projects.
  • Saving Time - you can save a lot of time by doing a lot of stuff on your own computer. Some processes which are detailed later on in this wiki like "slicing" can sometimes take up to an hour or more to complete.

Hardware/Hooking your own Laptop to 3D Printers[edit]

This section will have material about how to set up your computer and hook it up to one of the existing 3D Printers. I'm mostly going case by case with each 3D Printer.

Hardware / 3D Printers at Noisebridge[edit]

_I'm going to start out with a rough draft, linking existing highly excellent existing Noisebridge wiki pages that already exist. I was actually pretty surprised at how extensive and friendly some of the 3D printing pages were--the only thing is they just aren't all consolidated in one place -- Romyilano

RepRap Wiki Page[edit]

RepRap Machines

RepRap is the open-source 3D printer and should always get first priority. Many of the great 3D printing private companies springing up now that the 3D systems patents are expiring have lifted their designs directly off the open source RepRap community.

This page is out of date. I will do my best to update it

  • I see remnants of a RepRap party at Noisebridge
  • RepRap might be a challenge for beginners - the community does have a right to feel a little under siege and exploited, and these are intense hobbyists who might be like the comic book guy in the Simpsons. However, I have had mostly good experiences with RepRap people when I hung out at the TS in San Jose.
  • Like all open source projects, the emphasis might be not so much on easy usable great products that are simple. That is one of the disadvantages of open source, so it tends to scare away beginners. If we can do anything to mitigate that then that is cool

Makerbot Wiki Page[edit]

The makerbot wiki page is great - you should read over it too. The part about the Makerbots not working is confusing--I think they are mostly referring to the outdated Makerbot Cupcakes.

Disclosures: The MakerBot was recently purchased by StrataSys and got backing and tons of beneficial marketing from Make Magazine. The documentation is fairly well done, and this company also runs the Thingiverse website.

What does that mean for the beginner?

  • People will walk up to the MakerBot and say that it is not the best 3D Printer out there. that is partially true, especially since our newest 3D printer is from 2010.
  • Because this printer has lots of marketing and financial backing it is probably nice that they have support staff and documentation.
  • People who are advanced will make nerd out on points that are not really that important in the long term for a beginner and are a needless distraction from you reaching your goals. I cannot tell you how many times people have distracted me by interrupting my conversations with talk of people 3D printing food in space or how they have this amazing patent, or how they have an EEG brainwave machine that hooks up to 3D printers and 3D prints your thoughts. Don't be a jerk, but recognize that these people like to talk a lot about technology and that is really different from people who actually do stuff. They will be great tech writers and cheerleaders but they are not doing kinds of people.

MakerBot Thing-O-Matic[edit]

Thing O Matic is on the desk beside the PC Workstation

This is the newest Makerbot we have, it was released by makerbot in 2010.

  • This is the one everyone uses - I don't think the other Makerbots are working. The Makerbot Thing-O-Matic is the printer to use at Noisebridge.
  • You can hook up your computer to the Thing O Matic. Just bring a USB Cable (see the manual for which kind -it's the bigger USB cable used for scanners)

Monoprice Select Mini[edit]

  • Pretty much the cheapest 3d printers available today. So not crazy high quality, but they tend to work more reliably once you get them going than the other ones.
  • Not a very hot bed.
  • ABS heat requirements are at the high end of what these can handle so use mostly PLA.
Learning at Home[edit]
Learning at NoiseBridge[edit]
  • Spend time just printing out existing 3D models on the thing o matic.
  • Learn how to calibrate the printer
  • Have someone walk you through replacing and inserting the filament
  • -Don't waste your time on the CAD while your'e at noisebridge -- well if you want to you can do whatever you want, but you can work on models at home. If you do work on a model, try to focus on stuff that is printer specific, such as learning which filler settings make it print faster.-

MakerBot Cupcake CNC[edit]

Not advised for beginners to use

One of the printers is a CupCake CNC. It's really old! I think it's not usable because the open source software we were using (ReplicatorG) doesn't work anymore. Plus MakerWare, the software from Makerbot doesn't work with this thing anymore either.

I don't advise beginners to try using the Cupcakes, the software is a PITA

There is really good documentation for this on the Makerbot website. It was the first MakerBot ever and sold as a kit...

Makerbot Cupcake CNC / Firmware[edit]

Up! 3D printer[edit]

Up! 3D printer. don't mess with it or its boyfriend will come back and kick your ass!

This is an easy to use 3D printer. They are from China and have been extremely aggressive about hiring people from the hacker community to evangelize, but I haven't seen people be very open about this. They have good firmware, it is produced by elite university students. They are not part of the open source community.

  • Update june 2013 - I think this thing is broken. There is a message not to mess with it. Do not mess with the UP! printer or its boyfriend will come back and whup your ass!

Type A! Machines[edit]

older Type A 3D printer prototype

Nice 3D printers produced in the Bay Area. They visit noisebridge a lot - I feel since it is a private company with noisebridge connections it is in their best interest to handle all their documentation, marketing, training themselves. If you want to do this free work then erase this entry and start wiki-ing away. I'm not really going to do free work for this. They are nice people and they need to do this if they want to become a successful scalable business.

  • we only have early prototypes of a Type A machine so far. it is mysterious, on its side.
  • (total rumor) I heard a rumor that there was money donated for a new type a machine but it is not here yet. somebody totally confirm this rumor so that i am not gossipping.

3D printing Software[edit]

You don't have to actually work with the 3D printers at noisebridge to get started. A big mistake a lot of beginners do that I see is getting overly obsessed with learning the CAD 3D software and then giving up. I recommend doing that stuff at home and then focusing on doing the 3D printing hardware when you are the space.

  • The Noisebridge members who created the Makerbot wiki put up some great software so I'm lifting a lot of the text directly off there.

Software: Making 3D Models[edit]

This is a huge, exhaustive topic and can take years to master. Try not to get too intimidated. There are a lot of people who studied industrial engineering and like all nerds they can spend a lot of time fussing over things that are technically interesting but not very pragmatic for what you as a beginner want to do.

As always, I'd like to favor open source software, but the stuff out there that is commercial is simply a lot easier for beginners to tackle, plus they can download this for free.

  • Tinkercad - https://tinkercad.com/ - disclosure that this was acquired by autoDesk recently after being shut down by a small start-up of Finnish guys.
    • Everything is done within a web browser, and they have a lot of "quests" and starter projects that are very helpful. The models that emerge are actually fairly sophisticated; I printed my first Arduino 3D case using a tinkercad model I found on thingiverse.
  • Sketchup - if you're not used to CAD software this is a great place to start

Software: preparing 3D Models[edit]

  • netfabb - they are awesome, i think they are german? they offer a free download. you can use this software to "repair" 3d models so they are easier to print http://www.netfabb.com/download.php

Software: 3D printer Drivers[edit]

3D printers need drivers. Think of the printer driver that you download and use to print on your laser printer or inkjet printer. If only you could get software drivers for online dates but--whoops that was unprofessional.

  • Luckily the open source community has provided many great 3D printer drivers. These are also called firmware.
  • You can hook up the 3D Printers directly to your laptop, plus downloading this free software will help you save a lot of time.

Here is the list of Driver software:

3D Printing Projects[edit]

This is just a rough overview of projects for beginners. This needs to be merged into a general page that includes both beginners and experts.

Relatively Recent 3D Printing Projects[edit]

Noisebridge 3D Printing Member Projects[edit]

It would be ideal to put our stl files here instead of on a commercial service. Noisebridge is an open source community. I think Thingiverse is very useful for beginners though.

3D printing Guide[edit]

  • Full disclosure: I am thinking about making a 3D printing guide printed as a zine or book. This could possibly be offered as a tangible object so that people could give donations to Noisebridge or sudoRoom but I haven't fleshed out the details yet.

Ancient History 3D Printing[edit]

3D Printing Anatomical Models[edit]

This one from 2012 is pretty weird. I wonder what happened to it? And why brains? So interesting! I am pretty surprised that this didn't branch off into the predictable erotica or porn 3D Printouts.

Ancient 2011 3D Graphics[edit]

This is super old. but it looked like it was off to a good start!


Fear of Noisebridge[edit]

Noisebridge has a lively discussion mailing list since there are many colorful personalities here. I don't think that these kinds of lists should scare you away from Noisebridge. Note that there are a lot of introverts here so those people tend not to talk a lot on the lists.

Good Patterns[edit]

  • Getting beginners up and running
  • Explaining really dumb and obvious things like "how to turn on the printer" - for some reason a lot of smart 3D printing companies do not feel it's important to do this. =D
  • Updating the equipment list so that even beginners can figure out what is going on
  • Training beginners to be educated enough to help repair broken 3D printers. a lot of people really want to help but they don't know where to start. Just getting them to be able to identify parts and then tip off more experienced members will lighten the work load and prevent burn out from the more experienced folks.
  • Training beginners to learn how to maintain the 3D printers and software, this is a great way for them to learn and help out Noisebridge


  • Too much discussion of private funding / someone's private or non profit 3D printing project business
  • Endless videos of neat 3D printing projects by the military, governmental organizations, multibillion dollar corporations. This is a good way not to learn 3D printing. trust me, we have all been there.