— Good Thinking
MakerBot Thing-O-Matic – the DIY 3D printer
Put simply, the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic is a thing you can make to make your own things – automatically. On show at CES 2011, it is a desktop 3D printer that comes in kit form and, once assembled, can then be plugged into a PC via USB to print 3D objects from your own 3D digital designs. While you won’t be able to print your own car or your own replacement organs, you will be able to churn out everything from a customized plastic chess set to an action figure of yourself.
The kit comes with v2.0 of MakerBot’s Automated Build Platform that lets users set up a print queue of multiple or a variety of objects, with the machine automatically clearing the build surface between builds and ejecting the completed object before moving onto the next job. In addition to the USB connection, jobs can also be printed from an SD card.
At the business end the Thing-O-Matic features the MakerBot MK5 plastruder that the company says is “essentially unbreakable” making it extremely reliable and easy to maintain. Changing the filament is also easy thanks to the filament pressure thumbscrew, and can even be hot-swapped mid print. MakerBot says it has had the unit running for more than a thousand hours with minimal maintenance.
The MakerBot Thing-O-Matic kit comes with all components, all the tools you’ll need to put them together and one pound (454 g) of ABS plastic to print with. It sells for US$1,225 but allow seven weeks for delivery.
About the Author
Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.
All articles by Darren Quick
Lots of potential for development.
I have not idea on the limitations of the final component size, or the average deposition / volume rate in terms of CC\'s or grams of plastic per minute, and technologically - this is like the very first build it yourself PC\'s.....
But it\'s only a small range of \"improvements\" to this basic model, to being able to replicate model aircraft kits, or car parts, or having a production shop with 100 of these machines churning out parts for short production runs....
It will be interesting as to how much plastics, and additional compounds and their properties can be modified to run through these sorts of machines.
UV stabilisers, pigments, abrasive compounds, teflon filler, bakelite type plastics - with modification and post heat treatment etc..
This home brew 3D plastic printing - as a social // industrial project - now and over the longer term, it will be REALLY interesting....
GizMag is WAY behind the curve on this. I have a friend who\'s been tinkering with one of these things on and off since last year, and it is a sweet little machine. He even bought another recently.
If you buy one (I recommend it, they\'re fun), do expect to tinker with it. It takes a lot of love to make the things work as well as the demo videos, but it\'s worth it. Custom cookie cutters, custom figurines, you can make all kinds of great stuff.
Makerbot is a little bit low resolution compared to some of the high-end printers out there, but that is to be expected for such a cheap kit, and if you\'re going for surface finish it can also be cleaned up with a tiny bit of acetone.
Over 160,000 people receive our email newsletter
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning