The 3D Printer is Online!

A 3D printer? In the MakerBar? It’s more likely than you think! The MakerBar now has a modded MakerBot Cupcake for visitors and members to use!

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Like a “stock” Cupcake, the MakerBot’s new printer builds thingies up to 100x100x200mm, about the size of a frosted cupcake, using biodegradable PLA plastic. Jim, the generous donor and previous owner, tricked it out with a custom low-backlash extruder gearbox, underlit heated bed, and spotlights. We added some bubble levels for calibration. It’s pretty sweet, and unlike new MakerBots, it’s open hardware.

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We tried to repair it with limited success. One Craft Night, Matt and Jeremy, local students at High Tech High School, dropped by and asked to play with it. Within two hours, it was almost totally working! They came back a couple of weeks later and fixed the heated bed! That’s them below looking pretty damn pleased with themselves.

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If you’re new to the 3D printing thing, here’s a quick primer. These printers use fused deposition modeling; a robotic nozzle squirts a continuous bead of melted plastic as it traces the layers, building your thingy from the bottom up. Be careful watching it in action – it’s known to hypnotize MakerBar members for hours!

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The printer does have a couple of quirks to watch out for. Prints are coming out about 20% shorter than they’re supposed to, and an upper layer occasionally gets misaligned and ruins the print. Feel free to come in on an Open House day and play with it, or run off simple prints anyways.

As of now, the MakerBar doesn’t have any policies around the printers – feel free to come in during any Soldering Wednesday or Craft Night and run something off in clear PLA. Chip in to our Filament Fund if you please. Prints take a LONG TIME (that RepRap part above took over two hours) so make sure you arrive early!

Jim Galvin, a former head gaffer (big-shot lighting dude) for major films, brought us his MakerBot a few months ago after a two-year battle to get it to work properly. That’s him below after futzing with it. Thanks Jim for the ultra-generous donation! You rule!

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