In 2016, MakerBot announced that it would be shifting the company’s focus to the professional and educational, and away from the consumer market. In this vein, the company is announcing the launch of a new experimental platform for engineers and developers, called MakerBot Labs, or M Labs for short.
The platform will be offering several new products, such as custom print modes for MakerBot Print software, as well as new customizable hardware and software with open APIs. It gives users more freedom to experiment with advanced materials and 3D printing features, while offering them access to the Internet’s largest community of 3D printing experts. According to MakerBot, the new M Labs platform was “born out of the feedback from MakerBot’s advanced users looking to tap their innovative spirit and expand their 3D printing experience.”
“This release marks another stage of MakerBot’s growth and 3D printing leadership. MakerBot built the industry’s first desktop 3D printers, then the first fully connected 3D printers, and most recently launched solutions for Educators and Professionals that go much wider than our hardware offering. Focusing on these customers’ needs, we learned that the main barrier to wider 3D printing adoption was the lack of a reliable and easy to use solution,” said MakerBot CEO and former company president Nadav Goshen.
“Now, after setting the industry standards for what makes a quality and reliable 3D printing experience, we’re introducing this new, more open platform as a direct response to our advanced users calling for greater freedom with materials and software. This comes as an added option to our advanced users who are looking to experiment, but still need the industry’s best reliability out of the box. MakerBot is especially proud to offer the flexibility and experimentation that MakerBot Labs adds to our existing solutions.”
The platform is described as a “powerful sandbox,” which gives users a way to experiment with pushing the limits of the technology, but allows them to still have a safe place to fall back – namely MakerBot’s other tried and true solutions. Users have access to the platform’s range of featured materials, which includes four unique colorFabb filaments, or can feel free to experiment (do you see the overarching theme here?) with their own.
MakerBot Labs is releasing several new products for the platform, the first of which is a new Experimental Extruder with a design that can be modified. The extruder was designed for advanced MakerBot users, in order to customize their 3D printing experience with four interchangeable nozzles. However, you should note that the product is not yet covered under warranty or the company’s MakerCare, so if you’re looking for a more stable platform, you can download the Experimental Extruder Jig from Thingiverse.
It has a modified thermal core and thermal barrier tube, and is easy to swap out. The extruder’s large diameter draft nozzles allow for high-speed draft printing – reducing total print time by up to a whopping 75%. A harder, stainless steel nozzle lets you print with abrasive materials, such as metal composites.
The platform is also releasing new custom print modes for Makerbot Print software. Users can now import and export different custom print setting configurations, as well as define their own modes or test out ones from the greater MakerBot Labs community on Thingiverse.
Speaking of the M Labs community, it’s a resource hub for users – you can submit your own custom print modes, discuss applications and techniques, unlock new, advanced print settings, or collaborate on new apps and APIs.
Check out the MakerBot Labs API forum or GitHub page to get your hands on documentation about software and hardware APIs for MakerBot Labs, and see if you can’t “expand the capabilities of MakerBot 3D printers.”
“We will continue to build on our current solutions to offer the best possible experience for our users,” said Goshen.
“Our users can expect us to continue leading the 3D printing industry with innovative, fully supported 3D printing solutions, and we believe this balance between experimentation and reliability is an important part of those solutions.”
Visit the MakerBot Labs page to join the community and get in on all of the experimental fun.
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