MakerBot 3D Printer: The Inventor’s Friend


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MakerBot Founders, Bre Pettis, Zach H. Smith and Adam Mayer

What’s a MakerBot? It’s a printer on steroids. Instead of a two-dimensional image printed on paper, the MakerBot uses melted plastic to “print” a three-dimensional model of whatever item design you enter into the program.

Designing a 3D Model

How does the MakerBot turn a picture or design into a three-dimensional object?

  • First, you have to have an accurate design. It’s not like a Play-Doh Machine – you actually have to tell the printer exactly what you want the design to look like from all angles.  You can either use 3D modeling software, or just download a pre-made design from Thingiverse.
  • Once you have a design, you use a different software to “slice” it into thin horizontal slices.
  • Finally, the printer melts the plastic, and extrudes it (pushes it through a thin tube like cake decorator) in thin strips. It stacks the strips, which stick together, to replicate each slice of the design.


Want to learn more? visit the MakerBot Make-A-Thon on Saturday, May 14th, 2011 in New York. It’s a free event, and promises to be fascinating. On display: Kyle McDonald’s Xbox Kinect/MakerBot interface, which uses images scanned using the Xbox Kinect to create models with the MakerBot.


MakerBot Make-A-Thon
Saturday, May 14th, 2:00 – 6:00 pm
195 Morgan Avenue, Brooklyn NY

This extremely adorable video, featuring 10-year-old Schuyler St. Leger, demonstrates some of the uses of the 3D printer:

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