Thing-O-Matic Makerbot

IHPST

Accession Number: 2016.ihpst.32

Instrument Name: Thing-O-Matic Makerbot

Description:

The Thing-O-Matic is a 3D printer which was released by Makerbot in 2010.

This model includes the supplemental “automated build platform,” a movable belt system incorporated into the build platform that was meant to automatically release a finished print in order to permit serial printing.

The original model was designed to have all electronics secured inside the bottom of the device, but this custom assembly includes a separate detached compartment with the electronics, allowing for easier troubleshooting. It was assembled by Gabby Resch, a PhD candidate at the Semaphore research cluster at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information.

Gabby Resch describes 3D printing, and his experience assembling and using the Thing-O-Matic in this video.

Alternative Name: 3D Printer

Primary Materials:

Plyood, steel, plastic, electronic components

Markings:

Factory labelling reading “ThingOMatic” and “Makerbot Industries” has been painted on various surfaces. An additional sticker reading “Children’s own media museum” has been fixed to one side.

Dimensions (cm):

Width = 30, Length = 60, Height = 40 (with external case placed beside the printer, lid closed)

Function:

A printer, based on the fused deposition modelling (FDM) principle, that creates objects by extruding layers of plastic onto a platform through a heated nozzle. In this instrument, the build platform moves along the x and y axes relative to a print head. The print head is raised and lowered along the z axis.

Condition:

This machine is well-used and has many visible signs of wear and tear, repair, and customization.

Associated Instruments:

3D printed medical models (on display for Made in Toronto Exhibit)

Manufacturer: Makerbot Industries

Date of Manufacture: 2010

Provenance:

This machine was used at the Semaphore Critical Making Lab of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information, and was used primarily for demonstrative purposes.

It was the first 3D printer used at the Semaphore Critical Making Lab and served as an introductory device to the practice of 3D printing for researchers at the lab.

This object was acquired by UTSIC in 2016.

Additional Information and References:

This object was part of the “Made in Toronto” exhibit April 2016-April 2017. Gabby Resch also ran a 3D printing demonstration at the opening reception, and was interviewed on his research and work with 3D printing, within the context of a series of interviews on the makers of scientific materials at the University of Toronto.

The videos from this interview can be found here: https://utsic.escalator.utoronto.ca/home/blog/2016/03/08/critical-making-gabby-resch/

For more information on the Makerbot company: https://www.makerbot.com/

For more information on the Critical Making Lab: http://criticalmaking.com/

Donated to UTSIC: Yes

Historical Notes:

The Thing-O-Matic by Makerbot was the first 3D printer to be widely manufactured and sold at a price that was generally affordable to consumers. The FDM technology on which it was based was much cheaper and simpler than the technologies used in existing commercial printers. Its lower quality prints, with the characteristic visible striations produced by early FDM printers, were acceptable to hobbyists excited at the possibilities of 3D printing.

The Thing-O-Matic was open source technology. It was designed to be assembled and modified by its users–a principle embodied in the considerable modifications made to this unit.

The 2013 acquisition of the Makerbot company by market incumbent Stratasys Incorporated, led to Makerbot’s move away from open source technology. This shift caused controversy both within the company and among Makerbot owners and fans.