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This is a work-in-progress, so the photos show the printer in different stages of construction.  It was originally delivered in plain form from MakerBot Industries.  Within a few months, the interior was littered with pieces of scrap, adhesive, grease and paint spills.   It looked like a set from Little Shop of Horrors. 

To cover the mess, I made the case black, inside and out with "Ebony" oil stain.  When it was done, the shape of the top reminded me of the "Nautilus" in Walt Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea".  I liked the look and decided to continue in the Jules Verne vein. I darkened the bright aluminum parts I had been adding to closer emulate wrought iron and began calling my MakerBot, the "JV" model.

Step 1: Height Gauge

Most of the changes I made, I either got from, or published on, Thingiverse.com, a site devoted primarily to 3D printing and takes it's format directly from Instructables.

The links I provide will take you directly to the "thing" I've added to my printer.  Hit your return button to get back.

One of the first additions I made was to permanently mount a precision height gauge that measures the distance between the extruder heads and the build surface.

I'm not a big fan of digital tools.  The gauge I use is mechanical, and looks quite at home sitting on top of the Jules Verne printer's extruders.


Step 2: Hand-Held Inspection Light

This is another 19th Century concept.  Hand-held, battery operated devices did not exist, and electricity for lights had to be fed through wires.  My Jules Verne LED inspection lamp is powered from a 12 volt transformer located in the body of the printer via a classic 12 volt, 2 prong plug and connected to the lamp through a convoluted loom.  Very retro... Very classic Sci-Fi.

Step 3:

Exterior corner vents... I don't have the capability of making wrought iron, so most of everything I've added is made from printed plastic or aluminum.  In the 1880s, aluminum was an exotic material and extremely expensive.  Even though I remember on mention of it, I can see science fiction writers of the time employing the metal in their fantastic machines.

I've stained the aluminum and metallic plastic parts so they look older and more period.

The vents are attached to the top and lock into the open corners of the Replicator to hold the top in place.  They also serve as legs to support the top when its removed.  

Step 4: Hinges.

Three piece printed hinges bolted together as they may have been years ago.  On the inside are magnetic closers that gently swing the doors shut.  They work quite well without a bit of high-tech DNA.

The triangular hole cover in the corner isn't mine.  It belongs to 

Step 5: Wiring

Not only do I use convoluted loom, but I also incorporate wire chain for the loose wires on the MakerBot.  I didn't like the way the wires were routed on the Replicator as it came from the factory, so I altered them over to one side.  I use the wire chain to feed them from the front to the back.   If you want to see how this idea started, go to:    http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:29036

There are better chains out there than mine, but I wanted one that I could snap in place without having to remove the wire and feed it through.  This works for me now, but I'll probably want to switch over to a more stable design at some point.

Step 6: Fine Adjustment

Classic 19th century adjustment.  Some ideas work, no matter how old they are.   Learn how to make this mechanical solution to a frustrating MakerBot problem by going to:    http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:30476

Step 7: Levers

  A huge sliding lever.  This one is 100% mechanical, is very accurate, has a satisfying heft as it's shoved "hard over" as a valve would be in a Jules Verne story.   You'd commonly find mechanical levers of this type in 19th Century toys.  Mine changes the build platform height between glass and aluminum platens.  You can make your own by going to http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:29214

Step 8: Form Follows Function

The machine's function dictated what the machine looked like.  Today, when you open the hood of a car, you're met by a piece of plastic that has no relation to the machinery hidden underneath.  In the 1800s, a steam locomotive looked the way it did because none of the functioning pieces were hidden from view.  It seems designers have been disguising the function of objects since the mid 1900s.  Makes me wonder if they're ashamed of their work.

The software that MakerBot uses to turn drawings into machine code displays a metric grid on screen that divides the build plate into squares.  On the drawing, it's easy to see where your object will be sitting.  In real life, it's not so easy to determine where you should aim the ladies hair spray.  I've added a grid to the outside of the build plate that mimics the grid in the drawing.  The grid also allows inserts to be added to hold the glass plate in place.

Very functional.  I think it looks cool too, like the ring above the hatch in the keel of the Nautilus so divers could exit in their clumsy suits.

Find it here:  http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:30462

Step 9: Heavy Metal

With the exception of lighter than air machines, all of the science fiction machines of Verne's time were made from metal.  Plastics were around in the 1800s, but for the most part, they were brittle and were relegated to minor uses such as buttons and imitating ivory.

My MakerBot build platform and surrounding bits are covered in aluminum.  Heavy aluminum tape covers the plastic support arms, the wooden under support and back supports.  This is to primarily reflect the heat, but I've also darkened it to emulate old metal.

The tape helps one of MakerBot's faults.  The plastic support arms sag a fraction of an inch as the build plate heats up.  Unfortunately, the tape doesn't prevent this sag completely.  That's why I've sistered 1/16" aluminum plate alongside the arm and supported along the vertical.  How I did this was creative and I will be publishing my technique shortly.

The aluminum was not laser cut, as it wouldn't be in Verne's time... Not because I wouldn't want to laser cut it, but because I don't have a laser cutter and at the moment, not enough room in my shop to set one up.  Hand tooled and "aged".  It works perfectly:)

The logo is also aluminum, but polished.  I don't know if Jules Verne would have approved of such advertising, but I think it looks good.

Step 10: City of Light

The City of Light not only refers to Paris, France, where Jules Verne lived and worked, but it also refers to the Pan-American Exposition, held in Buffalo, New York at the turn of the century.  Like these cities, my MakerBot seems to dance as light and shadows, reflecting off the aluminum, play across the translucent white plexiglas on the sides, top and back with mechanical precision, just as the time machine in H. G. Wells' 1895 novel would have done.

My printer is now a true science fiction time machine, linking the future of product manufacturing with the past.


awesome mix of digital and analog! you should take some pics of the whole assembly and post them to the intro step!
Thank you Amanda. At the moment, the printer is in a state of flux, so I have to be careful any pictures I add aren't too confusing.

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Bio: Retired inventor, reverted back to my 10 year-old self. A shop full of tools, a boat, race car, 3D printer and a beautiful wife who ... More »
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