Presenting: The MakerBot

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The Media Center’s newest member, The MakerBot Replicator, is finally available!  After several weeks of troubleshooting and trials, it is now fine tuned and ready to print your designs!  Here is a look at the phases of the tuning process, through the creation of a unique Media Center keychain designed in Google Sketchup 8.

The MakerBot uses an Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic, which is fed through the top of the extruder.  The extruder is heated to ~220C or ~430F, which turns the ABS plastic into a viscous liquid.  The extruder then positions itself just above the warm print surface and begins the expel the plastic in the formation designated by the 3D file.  Each print begins with a “raft,” which is nothing more than a thick grid of ABS plastic, that allows for the MakerBot to ensure that the rest of the object is built upon a stable foundation.  Below is a snapshot of the raft creation process.

Out of the box, the MakerBot and I were simply not on the same page.  This is my personal favorite of its early errant creations.  We are still unsure as to what caused the many problems with this print, but, by some luck, the mistakes were not repeated.


The staff and I had found that calibrating the system was critical for precise prints, and that the motor mounts needed to be tightened before each print.  As we grew more familiar with the hardware and software, our results began to improve.

Once we had perfected the printing of our adorable alien, we then moved to printing the “Media Center” label onto the bottom of our keychain.  This proved to be quite challenging, as the small letters were a bit too intricate for our settings.  

Finally, we were able to tweak the MakerBot to build as we requested.  By enlarging and elongating the lettering, the label became readable.  Here are a few final copies of our (exclusive) Media Center keychain!

If you or your department would have an interest in utilizing the MakerBot’s 3D printing capabilities, it is available in the Media Center located in the Bosler basement.  Please contact Brenda Landis or Andy Petrus to schedule a meeting with the MakerBot Replicator!