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Seán Gleeson edited this page Aug 29, 2019 · 11 revisions

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Makerbot Cupcake

Quick links: UsageTroubleshootingMaintenance

Nickname Make Model Where Manual Issue Tracker Status
Makerbot Cupcake [[Workshop Rooms]] ? ?

Help wanted: The machine needs some work, as does the documentation on this page.


This machine allows you to 3D print plastic objects.

It's a very old machine that doesn't get used much these days - most people the modern Ultimaker or Up3d printers.

If you want to get the Cupcake up and running, you're best chatting to Julian Todd.

How it works

You create a design in 3D software, convert it to G-Code format using Salifish, and then send it to the printer. The printer uses plastic filament, which it heats and melts before spitting small blobs one by one, layer by layer, to build up the physical object.


  • Print area: 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm (approx)
  • Supported Filaments: ABS or PLA
  • Filament Diameter: 3 mm
  • Extruder Diameter: 0.5 mm
  • Extrusion Technology: Fused Filament Fabrication


This was the first 3D printer at DoES, but became obsolete when the RepRap was introduced.

The Cupcake CNC printer was introduced by MakerBot in March 2009 and was their first commercially-available 3D printer. The design was open source and files were made available on the Thingiverse.

Using the machine

To use this machine, you'll need to:

  • Follow safety precautions
  • Design a 3D object
  • Convert to G-Code
  • Obtain materials (filament)
  • Turn on the printer (in 3 places!)
  • Load filament
  • Print the object

Let's get started...

Safety precautions

It's an old printer with lots of exposed wires so avoid poking around while it's switched on :)

Class Green Equipment

Step 1: Design a 3D object

You can design your object in anything that can export STL files.

There are lots of existing 3D models shared on Thingiverse (if you create any models and add them to Thingiverse then tag them with DoESLiverpool so we can see what people have made.

Step 2: Convert to G-Code

Note: If you're doing this in the workshop, it's worth doing Step 4: Turn on the printer first, as the printer takes 10-15 minutes to warm up.

Firmware update: The original ReplicatorG firmware is no longer maintained, so we now use Salifish - you can learn more about it here.


Step 3: Obtain materials

See Materials: 3D Printer Filament, you'll need 3mm ABS or PLA.

Step 4: Turn on the printer

We currently have a small issue with power to the extruder motor, so this is currently a bit more complicated than we would like, but you have to switch the printer on on 3 locations, in a specific order...

Makerbot power-up sequence

  1. The main computer style PSU
  2. A small slider switch on the main motherboard
  3. The auxiliary PSU for the extruder motor

The nozzle and the heated bed will take 10 - 15 mins to heat up.

Step 5: Load the filament


Step 6: Print the Object

  • In the printing software, set the nozzle/extruder temperature to 220°C, and the bed temperature to 130°C
  • Centre the nozzle over the bed
  • Set the nozzle height:
    • If printing with a raft, the nozzle should be about 1.5mm above the bed
    • If printing without a raft, start off with the nozzle almost touching the platform - you should be able to easily slide a piece of paper under it without it catching, but not much more. Otherwise the bottom layer won't adhere as closely to the platform and won't be as precisely laid out
  • Check the z-axis bearings from time to time:
    • Make sure they've not worked their way loose and dropped out of the mounting
    • Fixing it is just a case of locating them in the holes in the wood again, and tightening up the nuts underneath them
    • At some point we should get some threadlock just to stop the nuts from working their way loose

Hints & Tips


Minimising waste

  • Reduce: To reduce material use, you could try making your object hollow, however this printer might struggle with that
  • Reuse: can waste be reused?
  • Upcycle: can waste be upcycled to something else?
  • Recycle: Depending on the material, you might be able to recycle it in the bins near the kitchen.
  • Disposal: For any remaining waste, please put it in the workshop bin.
  • General: Waste, recycling and cleaning up


If the advice below doesn't solve the problem, please create a new issue to let us know.

Corner of print is warping

  • Try running the heated bed 5 or 10 degrees hotter, or
  • Try moving the print (or the bed) so that it get printed nearer to the corner where the wires attach, as that seems to run warmer than the opposing corner

Print not sticking to the build platform

  • Probably because it's become dirty
  • Wipe it with some acetone and try again


  • If the machine is broken or needs maintenance, create an issue in the issue tracker (link in Troubleshooting above)
    • Label the issue: ?
    • If broken, add Broken label
    • If maintenance required, add Maintenance label
    • If parts or consumables need purchasing, add Shopping label
  • where spare parts are stored?
  • where to buy spare parts?
  • Consumables: Materials: 3D Printer Filament

See also