How to START Using This 3D Printer.

Introduction: How to START Using This 3D Printer.

Okay I get it now, there has to be a definitive blessing given to you in order for you to start using a 3D printer. I had Jesse give me the verbal blessing to use the 3D printing MakerBot Thing-o-matic that we have here at TechShop. You've seen my I made it at TechShop posts before right? *

Make a Mixer
Design it

and now this one has it too. I'll explain that in a minute. For now, how do you get the blessing? Read this Instructable. 


What chooooo talking bout Willis? 

Sit down at the thing and start printing parts without fear. Don't touch it with a wrench, hammer or other implement of destruction nor consciousnesses of mind to seek revenge against the bot. If repG comes up with a message that suggests Robots are taking over the world, make note of it (we've been waiting for this day) and reply to the bot letting it know you're on the robots side.

You really don't need to read the rest. Just grab your computer, download RepG or sit at the computer next to the bot and open RepG then follow your nose. If you can read an Instructable you can print a 3D object.

Otherwise how on earth are you going to break it from a keyboard??? You're not.

It's a printer!!! We've learned over the last 20 years that if a printer breaks it's the printers fault not the printer. Wait, I mean it's the machines fault not the persons. I accept irresponsibility for this post, if you break the printer by hitting send to the bot I'll fix it for you at no charge. If it breaks itself, TechShop has a policy about not holding it's members responsible for things that happen while you're standing next to things that break. That's what things do eventually, so in said case - they can fix it. Hit it with the hammer and I'm not fixing it and you're probably going to have to pay TechShop to fix it.

Also tell me if you prove me wrong, I'll write an Instructable about how to break a MakerBot with a keyboard and I'll take another class. Maybe a safety class. I have like 50 classes to go. You haven't heard the last of me. I'll be back. Cliche cliche cliche :-)


It's no secret that I include that link because I get free classes at TechShop when I write these articles. It's how I pay for my classes when I don't have a job, but it is every member's privilege at this time to write and Instructable and get a free class. Why? Because every time someone Google's How do I do this, finds an answer and sees that it was made at TechShop they might want to come down here, take a tour, sign up for a membership and OMG TechShop will make another $125 off of their multi-million dollar investment. I pay my membership dues, but then I have to earn free classes by spending a little time here talking to you. The TechShop/Instructables agreement is the best agreement I've come across in a long time. I have to pay Nike for a shirt that I wear out into public to advertise for them. Enough about how much of a sucker I am when it comes to the MarcRoth/Nike agreement.

If the TechShop/Instructables agreement were a secret, I don't think they would put a 2' x 4' poster up that tells everyone to write Instructables and earn classes.

What is a secret? Why do I go so deep promoting TechShop when all they said was include a link when you post a how to? Cause they kind of saved my life. Or at least that's how I see it. This isn't the place to kvetch about my life, in fact I have no complaints, but I don't want the benefits of TechShop in my life to be unsung either. If you care to learn more about me, I've found a place to tell my story and it's here for you to read.

A man in fear of shame
A man finding his way to employment in an economy that doesn't seem to have room to employ him.

It stings ("that's pride ____ with you" Marcellus Wallace) and a makes me shiver to talk about this, I hope you don't think less of me now. I'm paying a price everyday to stay in walking distance of TechShop (if it weren't here and San Francisco public health care too, I'd be in Vegas). Risk and reward, TechShop makes all of this well worth what it's costing me.

Step 1: Gatherous Up All Ye Parts

WARNING - Do not download and print this .gcode file on any printer outside of TechShop SF.

Have a computer

You can't print your own file unless you have the gCode to print from it.

Keep in mind that the .gcode file must be written with a computer that has been configured to work with the type of bot and configuration of that bot loaded into the file. The easy way to do this is to make sure that the computer and the bot are connected, the bot was calibrated and then generate the file. Sometimes this won't be possible and there are workarounds. 

There is a warning that comes up at the end of the calibration sequence that says you must regenerate your gCode for all files before you print them again. I'm not sure if they just left the warning in the script, because I've printed files that we compiled a year ago and still work. I've personally re-calibrated this bot 20+ times in the last 2 months. So while it's kind of not true, it's still the correct way to do it until further notice.

Re-calibrating it might be something you're not comfortable doing. Really it's simple and I don't know how you could do it wrong enough to harm anything, but being wary of doing it does make sense. I'm like a piece of furniture at TechShop so literally grabbing me and having me do it at TechShop SF isn't unthinkable. 

Have a 3D Printer

This Instructable is about the TechShop printer(s). If the question is now occurring to you "can I print the same file on either printer?" Nope - they have different stepstruders so a separate gcode file must be generated for each. Now you can open the same STL file and regenerate the gcode for the same design file on either one.

Option A - Have an SD card

You can load your code onto an SD card and walk it to the printer, stick the card in and use the interface panel to find the file and run the job from the card even when your computer is at home. This is is handy when someone else is on the computer SOMA 7 too.

There are 3 files associated with this Instructable and they are dedicated to my friend Aldo who asked me to make these dice for him. Heart warming story of my friend Aldo not attached.

Option B (US-B)

With the computer attached to the bot and the appropriate drivers loaded (SOMA-7 is configured for the bots here) you can pick your StepStruder and your COM port from the machine menu and sub menus.

ipt file\

Export from Inventor to CAD and create an STL file.

stl file\

Open the stl file in repG with the right driver loaded, generate gCode.

gcode file\

Open the gcode file and print.

You may get warnings, this is a good time to stop and ask for help. Most warnings can be said okay too, however this is the big risk. If you're somehow setting the heater too high and you say print anyway you might start a fire. This stuff is all flammable and the heater on the bot is capable of going much hotter than is safe. There are software warnings to keep that from happening. There are other bots out there that heat hotter plastics and if the code generated was for one of those bots the file could be hard coded to heat up the heater too hot. Bad, don't do that. If you picked the defaults this isn't going to happen. If you screw up and start the thing on fire, call me so I can delete this Instructable and shirk all blame and possible liability. Use common sense and start over if you think there is any risk. Something could go wrong mechanically and like 100 other things in this building you could be fighting a small fire at any given moment. The makerbot is in the hub and usually full of people that are not afraid to put out a fire so not too much stress here. If it's you, don't be scared to pull a pin, aim and sweep. Breathe, you ain't starting a fire.

Step 2: Run Your File

If you downloaded a file. Make a file. Or, if you just want to try hitting print.

Download a .stl file, load up the .stl (I said .stl file)  , the .gcode is not for any other printer (see fire warning on previous page). Unless you want a die with ALDO printed on it, don't reprint my file. If you do, print it small since you're just running a test. 20x is a 2 hour 40 minute job.

Make a file, export it to .stl open the stl in Replicator G, build the .gcode file, run it. 

Just try it. Unless you want to take home the part, try the smallest file with the shortest print time which is File|Examples|Hexagon.stl click it, build the .gcode file, run it.

Step 3: Filament and a Clean Bed, Ahhh...

Filament must be loaded for the job to run. I'll add an Instructable on how to load Filament into a MakerBot next time I need another class. Haha, but I'm actually not kidding. If you made it to page 4 you're really reading this and you know that this is mostly an ad of gratuitousness for TechShop and a way for me to stop living in fear of anyone finding out that I'm homeless by telling anyone who might be willing to listen. Most people who know me won't read this. That's not my fault. I put it out there for them. Does this sound kind of like I'll show them and burn down my own house? It feels like it. So what ! I'm processing my choices on gut instinct these days and my gut says get it out.

Oh, that kind of clean bed?

The bed must be clear of any project debris and/or someone else's finished job. Long jobs might be getting watched by another member(s) and they are pretty much just making sure there is no smoke and prepared to cancel the job if it stops printing. It is okay to take them off if the bed is cool. With this etiquette being apropos, keep in mind that if you're running a 4 hour job with a fragile part that might break when you remove it. You're expected to be here when it finishes so you can remove it and if it breaks it's you who did it. Advanced parts might need tools to get them off the bed. if someone else breaks your part, it's your fault for not watching the job.

There is a bronze film that stays on the bed to allow the heated bed to hold your project on it. If it's torn you can still run your project, but you don't want to and the rest of us don't want you to. If you're brave and it needs changing go for it. If it just looks oily there is fingernail polish remover in the wooden box, grab a napkin, throw some on it and rub down the bed to remove residue. 

But why not??? You don't want to because it will affect your part. We don't want you to because some of your part stays on the bed and someone is going to have to clean the aluminum besides its easier and proper procedure to just change the film. 

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    3 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 2

    Hi, I'm building a CNC milling and I want use Replicator G, I can do that if my machine have a milling cutter instead of a extruder?, I if this is posible what tipe of machine I have to select in the replicator menu "machines". My machine uses Polulu a4988 and arduino and I'm not based in any other CNC milling.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    ya know this reminds me of the pre windows days. For each app, you needed a printer driver for each printer, mouse, display etc.
    perhaps it's time to consider universal printer model with a driver/translator that converts/abstracts the individual printer to the more generic universal printer.
    just my two cents, or is it twenty dollars with inflation



    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is one of my favorite intros I have read to any project on Instructables. Ever. Testify, my friend.