Automated Build Platform

by MakerBot, published

Automated Build Platform by MakerBot Sep 13, 2010

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Automated Build Platform by MakerBot is licensed under the GNU - GPL license.

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The Automated Build Platform is a totally new way of printing your 3D objects. For the first time ever multiple objects can be printed in succession without the need for human intervention.

Up until now, the 3D printing industry has been focused on making one part at a time. You had to manually remove your object from the build surface and prepare your machine for the next build. This is true for all other 3D printers on the planet. MakerBot is the first to bring to you a truly automated 3D printing experience. That era is over and the new dawn of personal manufacturing has truly begun.

Designed by MakerBot Industries own enemy of entropy, Charles Pax, the Automated Build Platform is the latest upgrade to the MakerBot Personal Manufacturing line of products. In development for over a year, it is a heated build platform combined with an automatic conveyor belt. The conveyor rolls forward after completing a print, wipes the boogers off the nozzle, resets itself, and prints again!

Let me say that in another way- you can print part after part, hands free!

The build surface is essentially a conveyor belt upon which each object is printed. Once an object is complete the belt turns over and and the machine begins the next print. It's that simple! There's even a brush to clean your nozzle between objects.

It's an awesome addition to the CupCake, and it has all the printing advantages of the MakerBot Heated Build Platform built in. Optimized to work with the beautiful and reliable MK5 MakerBot Extruder, you can look forward to watching your desktop factory auto-eject your dreams into a parts bucket of unending awesomeness!

The ABP is compatible with all versions of ReplicatorG as long as you use the modified start.txt and end.txt. You should use ReplicatorG 19 because it has these files integrated in a Skeinforge profile.

At the very beginning of a print the nozzle tip must be centered on the build platform just above the surface. This initial state is assumed in the start.txt file. One of the first commands given in start.txt tells the machine to assume the nozzle position as x=0, y=0, z=0. After printing an object the nozzle tip must be returned to this same spot to be ready for the next print. The end.txt file takes care of this. One of the last commands in end.txt makes the machine move the nozzle to x=0, y=0, z=0. The result is that one print ends in the same spot where a second print must begin. This allows us to take any two print files (gcode files) generated in this way and stick them end to end to make one print file that will print two objects in a row. Awesome!


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Mmm. That patent squatting tho. Thanks for keeping the community open, MakerBot. /s

Just my tough, instead of this, that would not be better just to upgrade the printer on the Y axis so the Y is a conveyor that can move the Y, so the bed is not moving, and when the print is done, he eject the piece completely?

Hey Guys and Gals, the shop page for this particular piece isnt working , at least not on my end, was wondering if anyone knew where i could get one. Thanks

Lol they stopped making it ages ago because it's a heap of shit.

I have no experience with the original ABPs they used to sell, so I can't say anything about how good or bad they were, but this is a great idea. Makerbot should either develop it further or make the patent public domain or something so other people can legally develop it. A professional Makerbot quality ABP would have been perfect for their fifth edition Replicator series. The app tells you when the print is done and can stream live video from it's on board camera, why not clear the plate as well and ask you what you want to print next?


I just installed my Thing-o-Matic with Automated Build Platform, and I have a problem with the conveyor belt:

Although it does work when commanded from the Control Panel, it won't start at the end of a print, so I have to manually remove the objects from the APB.

Where can I start troubleshooting this?


You need to manually add a bit of code to the end of the .gcode file.

It's a bit tricky to put the tape all the way around...but I've found a little mod to fix it: get 2 1.5" long pieces and put half covering the diagonal tape on top, then fold under and cover the other bit. Doesn't affect operation.

Hey, I installed the ABP with the Relay Board kit. Since then I've been noticing: the temperature gauge randomly goes down to 0 quite a bit (and to 60,000 earlier) and there have been a handful of other problems. Hmm...

id like to build this but cant find all the parts like the shafts etc

I added sources to the parts. It's mostly McMaster and SDP-SI stuff.

http://sdpsi.comsdpsi.com or mcmastercarr its tough to find the right parts on the parts sites, order it from makerbot it probably will end up about the same cost

i got it running but i haven't printed anything on it. i am kind of bummed out on the software at the moment and dont even really want to turn my machine on. i might wait for repg20 to get back into this. its a very nice piece of hardware, just like everything that makerbot has released. the software is nowhere near the level of the hardware.. if you have standard makerbot parts im sure it would work great. i dont

i used flush mount screws to hold it down and the aluminum plate from the heated build platform. i sanded the leading and trailing edge so they were smooth and at about a 45
º angle so the belt would not hang up , get scraped or damaged on it. ran it for about 5 min and it seems pretty good. i am hoping that with the kapton on the edges i will get full x build area and the part will pull away from these spots when the belt advances. might work might not. also added
a cutout so i could solder in a led and a resistor. will only one soldered in work? i really like the indicator that its on with the normal HBP.

So how well does your version work? Do prints pop free of the side areas as the belt advances? I only put a couple of leds on my HBP 2.0 and it worked just fine, so I'd imagine that only having one as an indicator would be fine as well.

Sorry to be the one to break the news, MB is not the first to do this.

This was done way back in 2000 by Jan Helge Bohn, William saunders and Robert Sturges at Virgina Poly.

They called it (CLM) Continuous layered Manufacturing

i'm assuming you're referencing this: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-03242000-10440034/http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/thes...

i just read through it, and its very interesting research. not quite what we're doing, but its in the same spirit. their system allows them to change the actual build surface used in the machine, and they have a hard limit of 3 build surfaces. so if you want to do more that 3 jobs, you're out o
f luck.

one of the major breakthroughs with the ABP is that the build surface is the conveyor belt material. this means we can do essentially unlimited printing and the conveyor belt mechanism is really simple.

that was the first part..... later down the road they used thin lexan material on conveyor drums.

I don't want you guys thinking I'm knocking MB, I bought parts from you guys, your products are neat...... and no real complaints other than the quality control needs improvement on the electronics. Hell I even tried to buy a bunch of Gen2 electronics from you but the cost was out of line....no ha
rd feelings here things have worked out even better.

All I wanted to point out ....the roots of the idea is not new, and the statement "Up until now, the 3D printing industry has been focused on making one part at a time. " is not true.

The correct statement would be the "Up until now, the open s
ource 3D printing community has been focused on making one part at a time."

="thingiverse-94ef7214c4a90790186e255304f8fd1f:disqus" href="http://disqus.com/thingiverse-94ef7214c4a90790186e255304f8fd1f/CdnReprap Do you have a link to information about the lexan conveyors done at Vtech. I'd be very interested in reading it. Also I found this in the reprap forum from Ed Sells on November 24, 2008 http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_fbJJp9o1UbA/SSr9UUQaSjI/AAAAAAAAAMg/sWPE-cXHjKo/s1600-h/Rolling+Y+table.jpghttp://4.bp.blogspot.com/_fbJJ...
Also I was wondering why I can't buy or get the documentation for this thing anymore.

just discovered something that is of great use to anyone attempting huge projects now the ABP is out.

TeamTeamUSA just posted in the makerbot blog about automated slicing of a folder of objects.

"skeinforge will slice a folder full of files via the Meta
gt; Polyfile tool.Using Skeinfox I copied a working profile then enabled the Polyfile tool and saved the copy as the batch version of the profile. I used it on a custom sized Transformer and it worked great!"

this is an absolute huge timesaver when attempting a multi part object or if you just have a ton of stuff you need to print out.

...and since the way you generate GCode for an ABP is by repeating the same object code multiple times, you can simply concatenate all the slice files into one single file and it will print them all out one after another.

Excellent! Seems to be an excellent new addition to the Makerbot!

Does anybody have a BOM for this (suppliers would be nice too)? For instance, what thickness of PET is used, size of rollers/gears, etc.

BOM uploaded.

Wow, I'd love to have one of these...

This has been optimized with the MK5 extruder, how does it (if it does at all) work with the MK4?

it will work with the MK4, but its not recommended. the MK4 is known to have reliability issues and it just isn't up to the challenge of printing continuously for 24+ hours straight.

the mk5 solves the reliability issues and will print for as long as you need. :)

OH! just one question, is the usable print area the same? 100mmx100mm?

According to the DXF's the belt is 85mm wide...so you do loose some build area. I thought that it may be wider, but looks like it's not :(

If you lose Z-axis I will eventually load my Z-axis extenders...they add about 20mm more to any cupcake.

sigh thought so, but hey 15mm for continuous print capability?? sold.

Now that I think of it, as it looks thicker than the other build platforms, do you still have the 130mm height with this build platform?

Awesome! I ordered one and can't wait to get it!

If that is truly the case, then I will just have to make a printable version and source my own parts, because I don't see the point in buying another HBP when I already have one. It's a waste of a HBP that could go to someone else and a waste of money on my part...unless the HBP is wider to accommodate a 100mm wide belt (if the belt is 100mm) and associated parts.

I'm unclear on the store page... Does this come with a Heated build platform or just the associated hardware to make it automated? If it does come with a HBP, are you going to offer a kit without it, for those that already have HBPs?

the kit comes with everything you need to build an automated build platform. the platform surface itself is heated, so there is essentially a heated build platform in the kit. we made a bunch of modifications, so the hbp -
gt; abp conversion is not straightforward.

read through the build instructions to get a better idea of how you would go about it if you feel like trying it.

What bunch of mods? Adding headers, cables and laser cut aluminized tape?

It's a 1.2 HBP and I have one already...why do I have to buy another one? If the case is, "that's just how we sell them."

I support you guys, but I'm sorry I will have to make a printable version and source my own parts. I don't want to have to buy two HBP if i don't need too, it just doesn't mak
e sense.



you have to remove all the led's and resistors from the bottom of the HBP. i agree, not offering an upgrade path to people who just bought a HBP and relay (I bought 2) is going to make a lot of people a bit aggravated i think. having to re-purchase the exact same parts you already have and could use is a bummer no matter what way you look at it. hopefully i can sell my assembled hbp when this arrives.

Cmon, they just put this out. Maybe they'll offer a seperate kit later on if there's enough demand.

hey i ordered one already, it just bummed me out that i had to buy stuff i already have. the advanced users that this item is for (at least the initial surge of orders) probably already have a HPB and relay board and can easily desolder some components that they put on.

My sentiment is that the advanced users of a 3D printer will just make their own.

very true but its nice to be able to support makerbot whenever you can. we wouldn't be here if it weren't for there generosity (making everything open source) or sharing of what they know.

I hope so, it's not hard to omit the HBP circuit board when physically picking the parts and then knocking a few bucks off. Ideally the board omitted could then just go to a kit for someone that really needs it. The MK5 extruder they sell in different kit levels. I like things to be a la cart and also, i've had way too much lean manufacturing beaten into my head...waste must be eliminated! ;)

This just sealed the deal, I am getting a cupcake!

Will this be in the store? 8D WANT!

Then I can set it out in the garage with a full mendel build instruction set and let it print :D

What am I saying. I mean print a full makerbot chassis X3

Very cool! The description went a bit over the top though, and was factually inaccurate. People print whole sheets of parts at a time on their large Mendel beds, for example.

Still, excellent work!

Very nice! Does this use both the relays on the relay board? What I'm getting as is would I be able to run the heated platform, conveyor and an MK5 off one relay board?

yes, you can run an ABP + MK5 extruder off a single relay board.