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The MakerBot is an open source 3D-printer. Great for experimenting with designs and small scale manufacturing. The latest model, The Replicator (Jan. 2012), has the capability to print using two extruders, stand-alone, and with an even higher degree of accuracy. The previous model, Thing-O-Matic, had also improved printing accuracy and expanded electronics platform.

Below is the main illustrations I made for MakerBot Industries.


MakerBot Electronics

On the Thing-O-Matic all the electronics are neatly hidden away under the build platform, including the power-supply. On the new The Replicator all the separate boards are implemented in a new mainboard, called the Mighty Board.

The electrical connections is shown in the overview image below. It shows all the components and how they're connected. For more details and photos of the assembly, check the official Thing-O-Matic electronics installation pages.


For PNG versions, check the images below. Hi-res versions are available when you click through to the final link.

MakerBot Thing-O-Matic MK5

MakerBot Thing-O-Matic MK5 Electronics.png

MakerBot Thing-O-Matic MK6

MakerBot Thing-O-Matic MK6 Electronics.png

MakerBot Thing-O-Matic MK6 Plus

MakerBot Thing-O-Matic MK6 Plus Electronics.png

MakerBot Thing-O-Matic MK7

MakerBot Thing-O-Matic MK7 Electronics.png

MakerBot The Replicator MK8

MakerBot The Replicator MK8 Electronics.png


All the components below has been compiled into a Frizing library to be used for prototyping, the connection-points has bin omitted. The original illustrator files are available in the section above.


MakerBot CupCake / Thing-O-Matic

Main board

The main board is mounted together with a Arduino-controller. An external USB-interface allow commands to be sent via [1] ReplicatorG] and a SD-card slot can be used to load files to be printed in sequence locally. A row of connectors hooks up the stepper motor controllers, extruder controller, and endstops.

MakerBot Electronics motherboard.png


This board has inputs from the thermalcouple temperature measuring probe, high-power MOSFET to drive current the main heater to melt plastic and heat the assembly board. Auxiliary connections for controlling the automated assembly plate and heat sensor for the board temperature control.

MakerBot Electronics extruder controller.png

On top of the extruder is the feed for the plastic, driven by a DC-motor from the extruder controller. The heat element is a long piece of metal tube to keep the heat and melting process even. Two heat resistors exerts heat onto the main metal block before the plastic is extruded through a narrow nozzle. The thermocouple is mounted on the main block.

On the newer MK6 and MK6 Plus models the DC-motor is swapped in favor of a more precise stepper motor. The heater element is also upgraded to a custom made heater cartridge coupled with a safety cutoff board.

MakerBot Electronics extruder motor.png MakerBot Electronics extruder.png MakerBot Electronics extruder side.png MakerBot Electronics stepstruder mk6 plus.png MakerBot Electronics stepstruder mk7.png MakerBot Electronics stepper motor stepstruder.png MakerBot Electronics safety cutoff.png MakerBot Electronics safety cutoff revd.png MakerBot Electronics thermostat.png MakerBot Electronics thermocouple.png MakerBot Electronics stepstruder motor.png MakerBot Electronics fan.png

Stepper Controller

To drive the stepper motors, a controller can control the motion of the axis down to an accuracy of 1.8 degrees per step. The operation can be fine tuned using 4 potentiometers on the controller. Two dip-switches determine the type of stepper-motor that will be attached.

MakerBot Electronics stepper controller.png MakerBot Electronics stepper motor.png MakerBot Electronics stepper motor z.png

End stops

Each axis has an end-stop to signal when its at the farthest/closes point in its range.

MakerBot Electronics endstop.png

Heater board

To keep the plastic from shrinking during the printing process, the base where the object sits is heated by a copper maze on the board. A thermistor underneath is monitoring the temperature. On the automated model the base can roll out when the object is finished.

MakerBot Electronics heaterboard.png MakerBot Electronics heaterboard motor.png

MakerBot The Replicator

Main board

The new main board is a implementation of the separate boards on the Thing-O-Matic. This will hopefully reduce the cost of the MakerBot.

MakerBot The Replicator Electronics motherboard.png


The same MK7 extruder is used on The Replicator, only in dual configuration. This allows for mid-run change of materials. Both support and colors can be changed. Colors can even be loaded during a print when the other is not in use.

MakerBot The Replicator Electronics extruder bolt.png MakerBot The Replicator Electronics extruder fan.png MakerBot The Replicator Electronics extruder stepper motor.png MakerBot The Replicator Electronics extruder thermocouple.png MakerBot The Replicator Electronics extruder thermostat.png

Stepper controller

To drive the stepper motors, the new board is much smaller and plugs into a socket on the main board. The modular design makes it easy to replace any overloaded and damaged boards.

MakerBot The Replicator Electronics botstep.png MakerBot The Replicator Electronics stepper regular.png MakerBot The Replicator Electronics stepper z.png

End stops

To detect the end of travel, the same unchanged end stops are used.

MakerBot The Replicator Electronics endstop.png

Heater board

One of the main differences on The Replicator is the much larger build platform, almost twice the area. The construction is as before, only on wider and deeper.

MakerBot The Replicator Electronics heaterboard.png