Understanding 3D Printing MakerBot Replicator: Setting up and Printing

Written By Eva Marie Cooper
Coauthored by Jeff Wilson

If you would like more information or would be interested in hiring me to complete a project for you please email me at cooperevam@yahoo.com. I participate in freelance work so if you would like something prototyped  then email me with information and I should get back to you within 24 hours! I also do the following services: embroidery services, laser cutting and etching, design work, and designing in Autodesk Inventor 2013.

I made this at TechShop San Jose.

Thingiverse.com is a popular, free, design website where people share their programs which can be easily downloaded and 3D printed. Might be a fun option if using the 3D printer for the first time!

Table of Contents
1. About, Safty, and Diagrams
2. Software and Understanding Makerware
Includes Funcions, Slicing, Settings, Rafts, Supports, Infills, Layer Height, Number of Shells, Feedrate, Travel Feedrate,
3. Step to Step Guid to 3D Printing
4. 3D Printing Aftercare

MakerBot Replicator: About, Safety, and Diagrams

The 3D printing device I use is called the Makerbot Replicator and is located at the Tech Shop in San Jose. A MakerBot Replicator is a 3D printer that extrudes thin layers of plastic (ABS or PLA) one at a time. MakerBot has the ability to create parts as large as 9"x6"x6" and layers as small as .008". There are three 3D printers at the San Jose TechShop, 2 ABS and 1 PLA (both plastics have different characteristics i.e. melting point, durability)  though more/less at other Techshops.

ABS plastic has a higher melting point (so the extruders have to heat up at a higher temperature) and has higher capacity to bend than PLA. The following website gives more detailed information of the differences of ABS and PLA plastic: http://yoshplay.blogspot.com/2012/12/pla-vs-abs-whats-difference.html

The Makerbot Replicator is a pretty easy tool to learn and master, just follow the instructions posted and feel free to comment asking questions or adding to this Instructable. Just remember that all 3D printers are different though the process is very similar. Keep in mind the Makerbot's first couple of layers might be problematic, so an eye should be kept on it during that time. After everything seems to be in order (the first couple of layers are set), if is safe to leave the Bot to attend to other activities. The chance of problems occurring after the
first few layers is very minimal.

The MakerBot does generate high temperatures so be cautious after the platform has been heated. Taking the plastic side protectors of the Bot off, although is allowed, is not recommended; heat generated by the Bot would become lost causing the Bot to work harder increasing the likelihood of damage or failure.

The different parts to the front of the Bot include: dual stepstruder, attached to the mount; build platform,  what the part will be printed onto; filament guide tubes, the tubes on the top of the stepstruder that the plastic fliters though from the back to the front; and SD card slot. 
The different parts to the back of the Bot include: power switch, make sure you turn the Bot on and off; power input; USB-B input, although you can attach the Bot to the computer, it is not recommended  reset button; and left and right spool holders, the rings on the back which holds the spools of ABS filament.
See the pictures for a key.l 

The crystal is the object I 3D printed for this tutorial.