The Personalities of MakerBots

Something I have learned working with Makerbots for the last two months is that every single machine has its own “lovely” personality. It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s true; even Makerbot says “‘Each model of our fifth-generation MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers has its own printing characteristics.’ The teams continually test each model to learn how it behaves…” which clearly shows the company is aware of the personality each machine possesses. In working with so far a total of eight Makerbot machines, I have seen a wide array of personas ranging from the quiet and diligent demeanor of our ProdigalBot to the needy and attention-seeking manner of IronBot. As new machines arrive, they are quickly given a Bot name based on the personalities they display after the first few prints. Some of the machines include RoboBot, a Makerbot Replicator that remains reliable and hardworking through every large print, IronBot, another Replicator that needs constant attention and praise to get anything right, and Homie, a Makerbot Replicator Mini that constantly displays homing and thermocoupling errors. [Side note: Homie will be going back to Makerbot within the next few days because his issues are persistent and irreparable.] Sometimes when printing, I can almost hear crying coming from BatBot, probably because we had to send both of his parents back for various reasons. With Pinny (she has a push pin stuck in her lower compartment, but she embraces her minor disability and overcomes adversity), it always sounds as though she is singing an upbeat Disney-style working song. It may not seem possible, but there are definite distinctions between the sounds and behaviors of all of the machines.

The point here is that even among machines that come from the same company or that are the same model, no two printers are alike. Every 3D printer has its quirks, its strengths, and its imperfections. Naming and getting to know our printers has helped me to know what to expect out of each one as well as made it easier to notice when something is not typical for a particular machine. If I decide to use Smuckers, our consistently jammed extruder, I know to expect extruder jams often throughout a print; however, if I end up with any errors with ProdigalBot, I know that something is probably wrong and troubleshooting is in my near future.

<Alfred>

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