SETTING UP
YOUR PERSONAL
MAKERSPACE
FOR 3D PRINTING
9
CHAPTER
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FIGURE 91: FabLab: The Science Dissemination Unit (SDU) in Trieste, Italy (photo by: Moreno Soppelsa)
Whether you call it a makerspace, FabLab, hackerspace or community workshop, the names all refer to
community spaces where creativity and exploration are valued over “getting it right the first time.” These commu-
nity-operated physical spaces are where regular people with common interests can meet, socialize, and make.
First and foremost, the people who use makerspaces share the desire to experiment, tinker, invent, and
learn. The actual tools that exist in a makerspace come second to that inventive drive, and in fact, many
makerspaces start out with nothing more than a group of people coming together to help each other learn.
The more fortunate makerspaces will have 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, electronics compo-
nents, and various hand tools, as shown in Figure 9-1.
The goal of this chapter is to help you create much the same feeling and functionality in your home as you
would find at a public makerspace. Creating the perfect makerspace is not about how many tools and
pieces of equipment you have. Rather, it is about making sure you are able to be creative and productive.
So, don’t feel as if you need to spend a lot of money on fancy tools or have the perfectly organized space (as
shown in Figure 9-2) in order to make a space you can create in!
In reality, your makerspace likely won’t be as neat as in the above image. Even with the best of intentions, your maker-
space will more likely end up looking like a mad scientist lives there (Figure 9-3) and that’s actually a good sign!
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FIGURE 92: The perfectly organized
mythical makerspace
FIGURE 93: What a real 3D printing maker’s workstation looks like
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FIGURE 94: Mendel Max 2.0 assembled kit (makerstoolworks.com)
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FIGURE 94: Mendel Max 2.0 assembled kit (makerstoolworks.com)
GETTING READY
Here are three essential tasks we recommend you do to get ready to start creating your 3D printing work-
space, along with advice on how to best achieve your goal. You’ll find it’s really helpful to have your space
well set up before you begin! We’ve provided a checklist at the end of this chapter so you can make sure you
have the essential tools.
TASK 1: RESEARCH WHICH 3D PRINTER TO BUY
You don’t need a 3D printer to participate in this technology, but a 3D printing space wouldn’t be the same
without... well… a 3D printer. In Chapters 4 and 6 of this book, we identified some 3D printer qualities to look
for when purchasing a 3D printer, but this section will give you more insights.
At last count, there were more than 200+ 3D printer manufacturers in the consumer market. They range
from startups to multimillion-dollar companies. To get a real sense of the manufacturer’s quality, we rec-
ommend you visit their forums and read the comments other owners have made.
Decide how much or how little time you want to spend building and maintaining the printer yourself. We put
together our first 3D printer, the Mendel Max 2.0, as shown in Figure 9-4, on our dining room table. It took
16 hours over the course of 3 days. We learned a lot from the experience, but, if you don’t have the time or
patience, we recommend you buy one already assembled. Pre-assembled 3D printers are more expensive
but worth the money if you would rather focus on 3D CAD modeling or 3D printing rather than learning all
the “ins and outs” of how a 3D printer works. Whether you buy it assembled or not, you will still have to learn
how to maintain the 3D printer.
You may also want to take a look at Make: Magazine’s annual issue devoted to 3D printers or visit their com-
panion website. The magazine’s editors select dozens of the latest 3D printers to rigorously test and score.
TASK 2: CREATE A SAFE WORK AREA
Whether you decide you want your makerspace to be in your garage, your home office, or your shed, you will
want to make sure you have a safe environment and one that is conducive to your well-being.
You want to be able to move around the workspace easily, have good lighting, tape down your various power
cords so you don’t trip over them, and have a fire extinguisher within 6 feet. Just in case.
In general, 3D printers are safe machines, but you will want to take precautions to make them safe for other
members of your household, including spouses, kids, pets, visiting relatives, and curious neighbors. Certain
components of the 3D printer (like any machine) need to have some “look only” areas explained in order to
keep everyone safe.
One example of a “look only” area is the extruder (or hot end). You should take caution to not allow anyone to
touch the extruder assembly while it’s in operation, as shown in Figure 9-5. The nozzle can reach hundreds
of degrees in temperature.
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