Makerbot challenges – #1

Originally uploaded by Robots-Dreams.

The Makerbot 3D printer is really an amazing, and affordable, device. And, the fact that it's all open-sourced opens up a world of possibilities. At the same time it's easy to fall into some unexpected traps. Here's a couple of 'traps' that we learned from Yumae-san during Monday's workshop at Tokyo Hackerspace.

1) Wood size standards vary, even though they seem the same... The Makerbot plans and dimensions assume US standard wood sizes. The first time he cut the Makerbot frames they looked perfect. The length, width, cutouts, and hole placements were right on the money, but it didn't fit together right.

It turns out that the thickness of the Japanese wood is just slightly different. Hardly noticeable, but just enough to throw things off. So he had to scrap the first frame set completely, recalculate all the dimensions, and cut a second frame set. Thankfully it assembled with no problems at all.

2) Not all parts are available locally: It turns out that the coils of ABS plastic used by the Makerbot aren't commonly available here. It's probably a chicken-or-egg problem. Since the demand isn't there, no one tries to supply the plastic coils. When you can find a supplier, which is rare, they require a large volume purchase, and the price is roughly 3 times the US price. Looks like we'll be buying from US suppliers, at least for the foreseeable future.


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