Graphics Reference
In-Depth Information
Printers, the Cupcake and the Thing-O-Matic, implemented an electronics
system derived from the popular RepRap open source 3D printer project.
While this got the job done, it required each bot to house as many as nine
separate circuit boards, plus a computer ATX power supply.
For the Replicator, MakerBot designed the MightyBoard, a new single-board
platform capable of controlling the whole machine (even the dual-extruder
version) with ease. (See . ) This
board was redesigned from scratch for the Replicator 2 for improved perfor-
mance and reliability.
The MightyBoard can drive 5 stepper motors (using MakerBot's custom
BotStep Stepper Controllers), power two extruders (with heater cartridges,
thermocouples, and fans), heat a heated build platform, and read an SD card.
You can access all these features with a backlit LCD panel and video-game-
style control pad. The LCD screen provides build statistics and monitoring
information, and gives you full control of the machine without the use of a
computer. Using the SD Card slot, you can load models and begin builds
directly from the control pad. Pack up the Bot, and grab your SD Card and
you're ready to go to your friend's birthday and make all the party favors.
Print anywhere!
Evolution of the MakerBot Design
MakerBot has come a long way since its humble beginnings in that New York
City hackerspace way back in 2009. Its almost impossible to list the huge
number of design changes and technical innovations as the Cupcake evolved
into the Replicator 2. However, there are a few central aspects to the im-
provements in that lead directly to better prints.
There's an old saying that a laser-cutter is the hacker's best friend, and in the
early days of MakerBot, this was the gospel truth. With their hackerspace's
laser-cutter, the designers of the Cupcake were able to iterate on ideas
quickly and prototype many, many times. The first MakerBots were made of
wood which is cheap, sturdy and readily available. Over time though, the low
tolerances of wood and its susceptibility to moisture and temperature
changes make it less than ideal for precision equipment. This means more
maintenance and more adjustments required by the user, as well as slower,
less accurate prints. The introduction of the metal frame and new gantry
mounting system in the Replicator 2 means more precise and reliable print-
ing from day one.
Another key design change over the years was the gantry motion system and
the extruder itself. In the Cupcake and Thing-O-Matic, the extruders that
were mounted on a large platform that moved in only one axis, vertically. This
meant that the much smaller build platform had to move in the X and Y axes.
At that time extruders were big and heavy devices that could weigh a pound
or two and moving the much lighter platform provided a more reliable result.
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