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MakerBot instructions

Page history last edited by Ada 11 years, 1 month ago Saved with comment


In addition to the Up! printers, we also have a Makerbot Industries Cupcake CNC, which was purchased entirely through member donations and assembled in-house. 


It prints (with some reliability problems) but with the availability of the Up! has been relegated to a secondary role as a printer for hacking on.


Pro Tips (Please scribble your notes here):

Put all the handy hints and tips you discover here:

  • 'Cupcake-mk5-heated-platform-abs-fcc' profile is good for starting. 
  • Z-carve results, etc. 
  • ABS is sensitive to temperature, early one evening the raft started to curl up and would not print sensibly - this was after a day of printing fine. The solution ended up being to raise the platform temp 5 degrees to 115 and the raft then stuck


Instructions for Use:

Step 1: Obtain a 3D model to print.

Suggested source: http://www.thingiverse.com

The model will be in STL format, which must be converted to GCode (machine instructions) before printing.


Step 2: Obtain software (If you want to run it on your own laptop)


If you're on OS X or Windows, you might need a driver for the FTDI USB-serial converter.


Step 3: Start ReplicatorG, Open your model & position it

Open ReplicatorG and use File-->Open to select your model. 


Look at the buttons on the right hand side. You should move your model so it is in the centre of the build platform and make sure it is scaled sensibly. If you want to rotate or mirror the 3D model, this is the time to do it. 

Tip: Using the 'Centre' and 'Put on Platform' buttons in the move menu brings the model to the middle and makes sure the Z-height is set to 0. It's possible to have models 'floating' in mid air, and they either don't print, or require a lot of unnecessary support material. 


Step 4: Generate G-code and select the skeinforge profile.

G-code is a series of machine instructions that the makerbot uses to print the part. It doesn't contain the 3D model, but rather a series of instructions to follow to create it (e.g. where to move the head and at what speed, what temperature to ramp to, and so on).


ReplicatorG uses a utility called 'skeinforge' to turn the 3D model into the Gcode, also known as 'slicing and dicing'. There are many options that can be specified (such as whether to make models hollow inside, number of solid layers in the top and bottom faces, etc.)


When you've positioned the model, click 'Generate G-code'. You'll need to select a profile from the list. 

'cupcake-mk5-heated-platform-abs-fcc' is the best for general purpose use. When the profile is selected click 'generate' and it will start slicing. This may take a few minutes.


When it's finished, you can click the 'gcode' tab and view the code if you are interested.

Step 5: Set up the MakerBot!

1. Plug it in and turn it on. You'll need to turn on both the PSU (underneath the platform) and the bot itself -- there's a switch at the bottom of the motherboard.


2. Connect to the bot. Plug in the USB cable and open ReplicatorG. You'll probably need to select the correct serial device (under Machine/Serial Port).

When you're connected correctly, you should see something like:


Motherboard firmware v2.4 (Cupcake)

Toolhead 0: Extruder controller firmware v2.6 (Extruder)


and the top bar will turn green. You're now connected to the makerbot and ready to continue.


Step 7: Upload your GCode to the SD card

Ppress the 'Upload to SD card' button on the toolbar. Make sure you give the file a name that is fewer than 15 characters long. The upload will take 5 minutes or so.


It's also possible to tell ReplicatorG to send commands directly to the bot over USB, but it's less reliable. For happy extruding, we suggest you build from the card.


Step 7: Do a test extrusion and preheat the heated build platform

Open the control panel (CTL-J or the four-arrows icon on the toolbar). You will be able to see the temperatures of the extruder head and also the heated build platform.


Now check that the extrusion head is working. Raise the temperature to 220*C. Once it's reached the target temperature, set the motor speed to 255 and run it forward. Extruding? Great!


If you don't see the extrusion come out, check the filament is feeding into the top of the extruder. If so, the tension might need adjusting. Tighten the brass bolt sticking out the right hand side of the extruder until it's firmly gripping the filament and extruding correctly.


Step 8: Centre extrusion head

You can control the motors manually from the control panel in ReplicatorG. IMPORTANT: +Z is up, -Z is down. Make sure you don't drive the extrusion head into the build platform. Due to the way the head is mounted to the Z axis, it shouldn't be damaged if you do -- but don't push your luck. 


Since the endstops don't work yet, the build has to start from (0,0,0). Use the ReplicatorG control panel to position the head above the cross on the build platform, and very close to (but not touching) the platform.


Step 9: Say/yell/scream 'Fire the MakerBot!' in a funny accent



Step 10: Build!

Click the "Build from SD card" button in ReplicatorG and select the file you uploaded. The build will probably fail the first couple of times, but persevere and you shall succeed.



Happy extruding!

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