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Getting Started with MakerBot by Jay Shergill, Anna Kaziunas France, Bre Pettis

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Welcome to Getting Started with MakerBot. If you picked up this book, you’re either thinking of getting your hands on a MakerBot, or you just got one. Either way, this book is here to get you up and running as quickly as possible. In this book, you’ll learn how to prepare for your MakerBot’s arrival, what to do when it arrives, and how to find, design, and make amazing things on it.

What Is a MakerBot?

A MakerBot is a robot that makes things. Right now, MakerBot Industries is making desktop 3D printers that you can use to make anything. As it turns out, this can be pretty handy since most people need something pretty regularly—a replacement something that’s no longer made, something fun to play with, or something you could buy at the store but which you’d rather make yourself.

A MakerBot Operator is at the cutting edge of personal fabrication technology. Having a MakerBot gives anyone a superpower to replicate anything in the world right in front of them.

Your MakerBot is a present-making machine—you’ll never have to worry about buying gifts for anyone again because with your MakerBot you can just make them. It’s also a fixing machine, which comes in handy when something that you’ve bought gets broken. If the knob on your dishwasher, stove, or radio breaks, it’s not a big deal anymore, now it’s just another opportunity to show off your mastery of the MakerBot. Amaze your friends when you replicate a replacement in less time than it would take you to go buy it at the store! With a MakerBot, you can be a hero to your family by using your MakerBot to solve household challenges that range from building new coat hooks to making a bathtub stopper.

Like a kitten watching a goldfish bowl, you’ll stare for hours at your MakerBot as it obeys your every command and makes you objects of your dreams and the practical things you need. Bring it out into public and folks will gather round to stare at it hypnotically like a campfire.

You’ll be able to replicate any of the thousands of objects on Thingiverse.com that have been created and shared by designers all over the world. Before long, you will even get the bug to design your own things and share them for others to use, too. Your brainchild may have children of its own - through the philosophy of sharing, open licenses, and derivative works. Someone might like your idea, think of an improvement and make it and take a picture to show you how your thing has a new life of its own!

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into the following chapters:

Chapter 1
Explains how a MakerBot works, what kind of materials you can use with it, and what kind of things it can make.
Chapter 2
A tour of some of the many things you can download from Thingiverse and make on your MakerBot.
Chapter 3
If you’re a kid, have a kid in your life, or just like to act like a kid once in a while, this chapter will show you how a MakerBot can create useful and enjoyable things for kids of all ages.
Chapter 4
This chapter helps you get your home and yourself ready for the arrival of your MakerBot.
Chapter 5
An overview of the Replicator 2, MakerBot’s state-of-the-art desktop printer.
Chapter 6
In this chapter, you’ll learn how to set things up and make your first thing.
Chapter 7
After you’ve made a test thing or two, it’s time to make some of the things you can get from Thingiverse. This chapter gives you ten things you can make to show off the capabilities of your MakerBot.
Chapter 8
You could probably print things from Thingiverse all day and never get bored. But the day will come when you’ll be inspired to design something of your own. This chapter covers some of the great design tools out there—many of them free—and shows you how to design things.
Chapter 9
Designing things can be a lot of fun, but how about scanning something from the real world? How about scanning it with an inexpensive cameraphone or Microsoft Kinect? This chapter shows you how.
Chapter 10
Throughout the book, you’ve seen things from Thingiverse. But after you’ve learned to scan and design things of your own, why not share them? Learn all about the Thingiverse community in this chapter.
Appendix A
This appendix features some suggested resources to expand your mind and horizons.
Appendix B
Nothing like a good glossary to keep all the terms straight!
Appendix C
This appendix features OpenSCAD, a modeling program aimed at programmers.

Conventions Used in This Book

The following typographical conventions are used in this book:

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Using Code Examples

This book is here to help you get your job done. In general, you may use the code in this book in your programs and documentation. You do not need to contact us for permission unless you’re reproducing a significant portion of the code. For example, writing a program that uses several chunks of code from this book does not require permission. Selling or distributing a CD-ROM of examples from O’Reilly books does require permission. Answering a question by citing this book and quoting example code does not require permission. Incorporating a significant amount of example code from this book into your product’s documentation does require permission.

We appreciate, but do not require, attribution. An attribution usually includes the title, author, publisher, and ISBN. For example: “Getting Started with MakerBot by Bre Pettis, Anna Kaziunas France, and Jay Shergill (O’Reilly). Copyright 2013, 978-1-4493-3865-7.”

If you feel your use of code examples falls outside fair use or the permission given here, feel free to contact us at .

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MAKE unites, inspires, informs, and entertains a growing community of resourceful people who undertake amazing projects in their backyards, basements, and garages. MAKE celebrates your right to tweak, hack, and bend any technology to your will. The MAKE audience continues to be a growing culture and community that believes in bettering ourselves, our environment, our educational system—our entire world. This is much more than an audience, it's a worldwide movement that Make is leading—we call it the Maker Movement.

For more information about MAKE, visit us online:

MAKE magazine: http://makezine.com/magazine/
Maker Faire: http://makerfaire.com
Makezine.com: http://makezine.com
Maker Shed: http://makershed.com/

We have a web page for this book, where we list errata, examples, and any additional information. You can access this page at:


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Acknowledgments for Bre Pettis

I couldn’t have done this without my partner, Kio Stark, and amazing daughter, Nika. Huge thanks to Jenny Lawton, Anthony Moschella, and Justin Day from MakerBot. Everyone at MakerBot and everyone in the MakerBot community have rallied to make MakerBot the leader of the next Industrial Revolution and we couldn’t have done this without each and every one of you.

Acknowledgments for Anna Kaziunas France

I would like to thank Tony Buser for all of his contributions to the 3D printing community. Tony’s documentation on 3D scanning with ReconstructMe and cleaning up scans for printing has opened up a whole world of possibilities for me and countless others. I would also like to thank Liz Arum and Jon Santiago for creating the MakerBot curriculum which was used as a starting point for some of the tutorials in this book. I would like to thank my co-author, Bre Pettis, whose hardware donations have changed my life. I would like to thank my editor, Brian Jepson for his guidance and support. Lastly, I wish to thank the 3D printing community as a whole. Everyone who shares their knowledge through the Thingiverse, Google Groups, mailing lists and individual blogs everywhere.

Acknowledgments for Jay Shergill (MakerBlock)

First, I would like to thank the founders of MakerBot for making 3D printing user friendly and accessible. In particular, I’d like to thank Bre Pettis for inviting me to write for MakerBot and being a sounding board for ideas. Writing and sharing about the things I love to do has been the best job ever. I’m grateful to our editor Brian Jepson for his experience and guidance.

I would also like to thank my parents for being great teachers and giving for me every opportunity. I’m continually thankful to my wonderful wife for her encouragement, collaboration, and unwavering support - especially when I was blogging, writing, experimenting, printing, or just doing everything at once.

Finally, a very special thank you to my favorite maker and tinkerer, my daughter, for being a constant source of wonder, surprise, and inspiration.

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