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Hardware Hacking Build

MakerBot Thing-o-Matic 3D Printer Assembly, In Pictures 105

ConMotto writes "After an estimated 16 man-hour assembly effort, these are some of the first high-quality user photographs of the Thing-o-Matic 3D printer and completed component assemblies, released December, 2010 by MakerBot. The Thing-o-Matic is a commercial-supported open source 3D printer (similar to the RepRap), allowing hardware hackers to print their own 3D objects out of Lego-like plastic."
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MakerBot Thing-o-Matic 3D Printer Assembly, In Pictures

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  • by waterwingz ( 68802 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @12:59AM (#34584164) Homepage

    I've got mod points tonight but I'm going to post instead. Take a look at this link [] for an interesting scifi spin on what the OP is thinking about. Free download available - its a good read.

  • by pantherace ( 165052 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @01:54AM (#34584354)

    Having made a mostly arduino controlled mill that works, but needs work to correct some wobble (structure problem). I can tell you that even with the current set of shields, there isn't one that works out of the box. I had to modify the bipolar stepper on this page: [], to also accept an enable/disable. That's in addition to an Adafruit motor shield (which was when I was doing research on them, far and away the best). Both of which used two stacked chips in place of one.

    So not *completely* custom, but it does need at least a modified circuit. Take another 5 people with slightly different knowledge and such, and you'd likely get different solutions, simply because there isn't one I've found which would work without modification. Even using a stock Adafruit motor shield, where you could power 4 DC motors, adding encoders to those would require custom work.

    Multiple Arduinos wouldn't work well, as the inter-microcontroller communications are slow. I2C is limited to 400kbps, Serial was eliminated in my case (required to talk to the computer), and SPI might be fast enough, but at the time, there were only software implementations, which were slow. Arduino 0019 introduced a hardware library, so it may work now. (However, it wouldn't work with the shield noted above, as it uses pins 11 and 12)

    Anything even mildly complicated probably requires it's own setup.

  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @03:12AM (#34584638) Homepage Journal

    They both have a strict purpose of making replicating them easy.
    They can't print their own PCBs. They can't place and solder their components. They can't make their own stepper motors or even create the construction metal bars. But they were made with a specific ability in mind: to be able to print any custom part of themselves, and for the rest of the parts to be off-the-shelf commodities or doable by common low-difficulty DIY techniques requiring no advanced tools.

    It's 16h assembly of off-the-shelf parts and parts printed by the device. No milling, stamping, welding or anything like that. Making and soldering the PCBs is the most difficult, and the hot plastic dispenser/noozle is the only part hard to obtain "off the shelf" and not printable itself.

  • Re:Milling Accessory (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 17, 2010 @03:35AM (#34584754)

    "In the 1980s there was a popular series of books on how to make a very simple low budget foundry, how to use that to make the basics of a lathe, how to use that lathe to improve parts and make it a better lathe and how to use that to make a two axis milling machine.
    Anybody remember those and the author or titles?" []

    The Dave Gingery book set.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 17, 2010 @05:05AM (#34585102)

    Hm, it is a stated goal for the reprap to make printers that can print most of their own parts. They have sometimes gone to great lengths to try to achieve this (for example, they have tried but given up on creating proper bearings in plastic). But like all "life", it needs extra parts ("vitamins"). Some things you just have to get somewhere. Humans need a few different kinds of food for example. But a big part of a reprap can in fact be printed on a reprap.

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner