Category Archives: MakerBot

Photoshop CC support for MakerBot

Adobe is adding several features to make printing a model easy. Users won’t have to worry about their model falling apart, because Photoshop will automatically generate temporary supports beneath and around their model to make sure that it doesn’t collapse during printing. It’s also partnering with MakerBot and Shapeways so that Photoshop can automatically generate previews of how a model will look when it’s made by any given one of their printers.

Full story here.

Replacing Kapton tape on MakerBot


When it came time to replace the original Kapton tape on my Replicator 2X build plate, I wondered if an old technique that model airplane builders use to apply decals would work.  They have the same basic problem, how to apply a big piece of thin sticky material to another surface without ending up with a bunch of wrinkles and bubbles.  The solution that someone came up with is to first spray the surface where the decal is going to be applied with Windex.  Then you lay the decal down onto the Windex covered surface.  The Windex keeps the decal from sticking, allowing you to properly position it and smooth out any wrinkles and bubbles.  You then work from the center outward and squeeze the Windex and air bubbles out.  I tried it with the Kapton tape and it worked perfectly!

Order Kapton tape here…

Interesting hack for MakerBot

You really must try the Aquanet hairspray.  I don’t even know why this was a well used mod until now.

I have a lot of prints and a lot of 3D printers. The Ultimaker has
always used blue painters tape as it is an unheated acrylic bed stock and PLA only printing. I can say that blue tape works great (I use 3M brand) and is resonably long lasting and prints stick well. It’s not to unreasonably priced, easy to get anywhere and just works.

Because the way the Ultimaker and code woudl preheat, you could damage the acrylic build surface from the nozzle heat alone and in effort to get some early prints to stick, I was running the nozzle too close an it leaves marks in the bed that can be seen in later prints. I solved that by putting down glass with blue tape on top. This gives a super hard and flat surface with all the benefits of tape.

That’s all fine and dandy for PLA, but does not work for ABS. The
previous ABS solution was a heated bed, with an alumimum plate for flatness and hard surface with wide kapton tape stuck on top. The real bear of this is that Kapton tape is expensive, especially in wide rolls. What they do to fool you is make 1-2mil thick wide kapton tape and it’s cheaper per roll. This super thin tape tears so easily, it’s hard to get it off the roll in one part. This is what Makerbot was and likely still is selling/providing. It sucks, and you don’t know the difference until you try some 3 or 5mil and then you know. You will get bubbles and even bubles that form from large prints trying to pull up the tape. You can easily damage the tape trying to remove the parts. You will curse and scream and throw things. Then the good Kapton tape in 3mil is about $90 a roll. Even better is 5 or 7mil that only comes in a 12×12 inch sheet and that’s at least $30 a sheet when you can find it. Imagine screwing that up and throwing it away after a few prints.

Then glass and Aquanet came along. You can use a $2 glass plate cut to size at any hardware store. Have them make at least 4 while your are there from bif sheet. Now, go and get a can of aquanet unscented in the purple can. You also need a few paper binder clips to hold the glass against your existing heated bed. At this point, you might be $10 in supplies to make this happen on a bad day. You lightly coat the glass surface with a thin coat of aquanet, just enough to make it frosted. It doesn’t take much at all. It actually works better if you already heated the bed and glass as it dries instantly and is ready to print. the glass is super flat so jsut make sure you leveled the bed and aren’t going to drag the nozzle into the glass. Temp wise, you use 50C for PLA and 100-110C for ABS. That’s it! that’s the only thing you now change when printing with ABS or PLA. If you run sailfish, you just always use gcode temp override and then to set the temps, it’s via the preheat menu, something you do anyway when setting up for a print job.

The best part is not jsut that the part sticks and has a perfect flat
bottom. Now, rather than trying to pry off the part and damaging the print surface, teaking and stressing the bed and arms and causing you to mangle your leveling and Z height, you just wait. When the glass  cools to room temp, the part just pops off. On the rare but good occasion that it’s still stuck, remove the plate since it’s just clipped and toss into the freezer.

You do not need to apply hairspray each time. It washes off the bottom of the part under warm water and most of the time not even detectable. If you want to clean the glass, either warm water or rubbing alcohol takes it off instantly.

The point is, its a hard flat surface EVERY time. You can’t get that
with any tape. It’s reusable thousands of times. It’s cost nothing and you can get it almost anywhere. Glass+aquanet just works. It’s not messy, it’s not a problem, it doesn’t gum up the part or the machine. It beats every other surface in finsih on the part every time.

Recycling MakerBot waste

The short version it that it’s not very economical to do so. A longer version, found on the MakerBot Google group:

Recycling is a great idea, but in practice it’s tricky. First, for ABS and PLA, you can only use about 20% recycled material in any printing you want to look good – 100% recycled plastic isn’t as smooth as virgin plastic, so it’s more suitable for industrial applications such as cafeteria trays. Second, you have to grind up the source plastic into little bits that can be re-extruded. And third, you have to sort the source plastic into matching colors.