Making Makerbot

When I opened my Etsy Store in June of 2010 I had one goal in mind, “earn enough to buy a CupCake CNC from Makerbot.com.” It took almost 6 months for my first item to sell and a new 3D printer (The Thing-o-Matic) came out while I was waiting to earn enough for the Makebot. It was slow going but by the end of Febuary 2011 I had socked away enough cash to place my Makerbot order. Once it arrived my Dad and I spent four evenings after work building the Thing-o-Matic, although, those four evenings were spread out over three weeks for reasons I will explain shortly.

Build Day One
About half way through building stage X (the automated build platform) I realized I was missing a belt. I was able to build most of the X and Y stages and hook up some electronics before giving up. I put in the call to Makerbot Industries and they quickly mailed me a replacement (quick here is relative).

 

Build Day Two
Fast forward one week and I’ve received the replacement belt in the mail! We set back to work completing the X, Y and Z stages in one evening. We also completed most of the MK6 Plastruder which was a bit trickier to build as lots of slippery plastic parts go into the filament motor assembly.

 

Build Day Three
Day three was fun because we started building the frame of the Thing-o-Matic and combining parts we had built previously, it was finally starting to look like a Makerbot! Of course day three was not without issue. After finishing the frame, mounting the motors and finishing the electronics it was time to power up the bot. I held my breath as a threw the switch on the power supply. The power supply turned on with a *click* followed by a *pop* *crackle* *fizz*. It was easy to tell something had gone terribly wrong as smoke was rising from the inside of my Thing-o-Matic. As you can see in the picture below a capacitor blew on my Arduino MEGA. After contacting Makerbot support I was informed that this was caused by a mis-manufactured Arduino shield. Replacements for both were shipped and another week of waiting began.

 

Build Day Four
I don’t really have many photos of day four because it consisted of plugging in the new Arduino MEGA, crossing my fingers and getting to work printing! Everything worked fine after replacing that part, though we did take extra time to carefully zip tie and route all the internal cables making everything as neat as possible just in case anything went wrong.

My next post(s) will show some of the test prints and projects I’ve started working on using my Thing-o-Matic. Before we get to that, I thought I’d also leave some notes that might help those building their own Thing-o-Matic in the future.

  • Separate screws and other small parts in plastic cups if you have them. It makes continuing the project later much easier.
  • Do not throw anything away until you have a working bot. There are a few transparent plastic pieces I almost lost this way.
  • For internal parts tape the nuts in place before you try to screw them in.
  • Watch this video from Makerbot on Self Aligning Bearings your ears will thank me.
  • Wipe down all your wooden parts before you start or you will have ash on everything!
  • Some of the pictures in the instruction manual show parts that you haven’t installed yet, don’t jump ahead.
  • Needle nose pliers and extra allen wrenches are very helpful. So is blue painters tape.

 

Makerbot Thing-o-Matic printing away!