MakerBot-related hints, gotchas, and desires
I'm assembling a MakerBot,
which is an open source 3D printer: essentially, its a robot that makes
My MakerBot is a Deluxe kit from Batch 10
(serial number 000619),
and uses the Plastruder MKIV.
Wherein I enumerate the stupid mistakes I made when building my bot,
and humbly suggest improvements in the design.
Please note that the build instructions for Batch 10 differ from
the instructions for other batches--your mileage may vary.
Y stage Assembly
On the first evening of assembly, my friend Cassie and I built the Y
instructions. The instructions said it would take thirty minutes
to build the Y stage. It took us 1 1/2 hours, although we were
gabbing most of the time. We probably spent as much time looking for
the parts and figuring out the instructions as we did actually
assembling the parts.
I was initially confused that my kit came with two build surfaces and
build platforms, until Cassie actually read the instructions and
pointed out that this was intentional. I'm still not sure why there
is an extra build platform--do the build surfaces get messed up over
time? Perhaps it's because the build platform is detachable? Or
maybe it's convenient to leave a printed object on one platform, while
starting to print another object on the second platform. In any case,
the second build platform is a nice touch.
The two build surfaces were packaged differently, which I found a
little confusing. One kit has a razor blade, which I assume is for
scraping plastic off of the build surface. The other kit included 5
gold magnets, 6 M3 nuts, and 6 M3 screws that are shorter than the
M3x16 bolts that come in the bags in the Hardware Burrito.
list and photo claim that to build the Y stage you need 10
magnets, 12 M3 nuts, and 12 M3x16 bolts. The Hardware Burrito
contained 10 more magnets (for a total of 15), two bags of M3x16
bolts, and two bags of M3 nuts. However, I only used 6 M3x16 bolts
and 6 M3 nuts, so either I did something wrong or the instructions are
off. I didn't use the shorter bolts that came with the build platform
kit--I'm still not sure what those are for.
I was confused by two other things in
list picture. The flanged side bearings are shot from above,
which makes them look like rubber grommets; perhaps a side view would
be clearer. Also, I wasn't sure which of the timing belts to use.
Later the instructions make clear that you should use the shortest
The two bags containing M3x16 bolts were extremely greasy--so greasy,
in fact, that the lettering started coming off the backs of the bag.
It would be nice to have de-gunked bags, but I'm sure the MakerBot
folks don't want to spend all afternoon wiping grease off of bags. I
wonder if soaking the bags in dishwashing detergent might help
The tiny square rare-earth magnets were fun to play with, and to
I love the simple but effective trick of putting a nut on the end of
the magnets to keep track of the orientation. I wonder who came up
with that trick?
I found it much easier to insert the magnets in the bottom of the
build platform, rather than inserting them in the top and pushing them
down. Of course, this meant I had to switch the orientation of the
magnets with respect to the Y stage.
I had to thoroughly ream out all the holes for the magnets, especially
on the build platform. The instructions suggest using a hex key to
ream the holes, but I didn't find this effective. Maybe I was doing
it wrong. (I was scraping along the sides with the smallest key;
perhaps I could have twisted a larger key in the hole, but I was
afraid of damaging the holes.) However, there is
screwdriver on the back of
my CyberTool 41
Swiss Army knife (which is the most useful tool I own) that must
have been designed for just this task--it worked perfectly. A small
flathead screwdriver might work just as well.
clamping the Y belt to the Y rib, it seemed like tightening the
bolt enough to hold the belt down puts lots of stress on the clamp's
connection to the Y rib. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I would have
liked it better had there been another bolt below the belt. Probably
that would make the Y rib jut down too far, though.
We were initially confused when the instructions said to insert the Y
rods into the bearings, since the rods weren't on the parts list or
photo. We spent some time trying to figure out if we needed the long
rods or the short rods, until we realized that we were just making
sure the bearings were aligned. We found it easier to hot glue the
bearings with the rods removed; however, my friend Nathan points out
that leaving in the rods guarantees alignment of the bearings.
The parts list and parts photo mention the acrylic build surface, but
the instructions don't say to bolt the acrylic onto the build platform
when building the Y stage. I'm assuming that's what the other 6 M3x16
bolts and M3 nuts are for.
X stage Assembly
On the second evening of assembly, my friend Nathan and I built the
Last updated February 17, 2010
Please send cool links, broken links, and Other Things I Should Already Know About to Will