Help brainstorm next steps for MakerBot

3D Printing & Imaging
Help brainstorm next steps for MakerBot

Help MakerBot understand what the community wants by sharing your ideas on the MakerBot Idea Torrent. Anyone can view the ideas. You’ll need to register on SourceForge to vote on ideas or to submit new ones. This will help guide research and development at MakerBot and keep track of who comes up with the best ideas.

An idea torrent “lets people submit their ideas, brainstorm them, and vote on them. The most popular ideas and requests are then easily assessable.” You may remember when Dell started the Idea Storm site. The most popular idea was preinstalled Linux. Now they sell Ubuntu laptops. This system is also used on the Ubuntu brainstorm site.

Also check out Rob Giseburt’s thoughtful MakerBot, Past and Future blog post for more ponderings.

2 thoughts on “Help brainstorm next steps for MakerBot

  1. DP says:

    Is the MakerBot for you? Depends what you want.

    I do feel like I have become familiar with my Makerbot and the infrastructure of software it needs. I have gotten used to the limitations and strengths. I have spent over 1000 USD and close to 250 hours total building, installing, learning, tweaking, or repairing and testing. Everything I have done has been to with the goal of getting myself and my printer to the point where I can design and reliably print small parts and enclosures (simple geometric shapes, nothing too fancy.) I am not sure I am there yet.

    There are also a number of things that might not be obvious to a newcomer if you’re considering a MakerBot.

    – The documentation (as of at least May 2010) is just barely adequate. The required information is *somewhere* on either the wiki, the discussion notes/comments, the forums, or the Google group. The necessary information *is* present somewhere in one form or another, but it’s not very well organized or consistent and it’s sometimes misleading or even contradictory. Pay attention to the photos, the wiki and the discussion notes. Read first, test-fit twice, and if something seems off or questionable, dig deeper. A certain amount of fragmentation or even inaccuracy can be expected in the documentation of an evolving kit intended for advanced users. But the Makerbot’s documentation as a whole is really not very good, and certainly should be better polished especially for a company whose revenues are approaching 1 million USD per year. (

    – Operating the Makerbot requires near-constant care and attention. It’s a mixture of manual-and-automatic, in a way. While theoretically you can just hit “build” after setting things up, you still have to keep an eye on things to make sure nothing goes wrong. The MakerBot can damage itself if things go wrong unattended.

    – It is LOUD. Loud like “I think this can damage my hearing” LOUD. Have earplugs handy.

    – Your printed objects will have a rope-basket look to them. Fine detail in 3D models won’t come through. The printed object might be somewhat “messy”. Round holes or notches won’t necessarily turn out as intended. Prints will sometimes glitch.

    – It seems to never be shown in pictures, but the Makerbot is “fed” a spool of plastic into the top of the printer (where it then is fed into the “print head”). You are on your own for figuring out a way to keep the plastic clean and fed into the top of the Makerbot. Many people make their own spool setups.

    – You have to manually adjust the position of the build platform and print head multiple times every time you want to print. A crank-wheel to attach to the z-stage to make the constant winding up and down easier was one of the first truly useful things I printed. (

    – The raft (a printed layer between the build platform and the actual object – it gets removed from the object after printing) requires LOTS of practice to get right and needs fiddly attention. If it doesn’t stick well enough to the build platform, the printed object will lift at the corners and mess up your print.

    – Makerbot’s resolution is “up to 0.04mm” but that doesn’t mean what you might think. The Makerbot uses a plastic extrusion (like a thread or rope) of kinda-melted ABS that is somewhat over 0.5mm thick. The assembly is theoretically capable of very fine resolutions but there are some realities to deal with that limit this, for example the fact that the threaded rods that make up the z-stage are rarely straight which causes the stage to wobble enough to see with the naked eye. It won’t mess up prints too much but you’re honestly not getting any fraction-of-millimeter accuracy out of it unless you do a lot of tweaking.

    It’s neat, it’s complex, it’s fascinating and it works. But the ‘3D Printer Revolution From Your Desktop’ at best still consists of coat hooks and bottle openers.

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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