Need working software/OS for a legacy Thing-o-matic 3D printer c. ~2012
July 27, 2021 12:48 PM   Subscribe

After around 10 years and many hours, I finally got around to finishing assembling a legacy Thing-o-matic by Makerbot from a kit that was gifted to me long ago ! It powers up and calibrates but I am stuck going further. Can anyone help me to get the software working to actually print something? I am turning to the hive before consigning this elegant and once expensive kit (that I am invested in because I recently spent many hours assembling it) to the dustbin. Any advice, please?

I have a legacy Thing-o-matic from ~2012 assembled from a kit. Recently, after years stored in the closet, I finished assembling it and tried to use it. Technology seems to have moved on.

I downloaded and installed Replicator-G v.40 and Java 6, but it doesn't play nicely with my Macbook running Yosemite OS. When I load an .STL file from the provided examples, it doesn't present any image for slicing. I don't know if this is an install error, an error in using this program, or an OS incompatibility, but I suspect that Replicator-G was designed for an HFS file system. I think it is possible that it might run on OS Lion but don't know how to create a bootable Lion installer since Disk Utility doesn't know about HFS anymore. I have an old Macbook that I could dedicate to this project.

I don't know what I am doing. Apple no longer supports Lion, Makerbot no longer offers support for this legacy hardware/software, and I am turning to the hive before consigning this elegant and once expensive kit (that I am invested in because I spent many hours assembling it) to the dustbin. Any advice, please?
posted by SamFrancisco to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don’t know that specific kit, it probably just takes g-code. Cura is my current go-to slicer, and if it connects to a computer via USB, Pronterface or one of the many derivatives should be able to feed it goods. If you ask around in the 3D printing community, someone probably has a profile for it.

Alternatively, you could replace the drive electronics with an SKR controller (cheap) or a Duet (more expensive) and keep the same stepper motors, extruder, etc.
posted by Alterscape at 12:59 PM on July 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

The subreddit for makerbots is pretty active:
posted by wenestvedt at 1:11 PM on July 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

The main problem is that the Thing-o-Matic uses a standard DC motor for the extruder, where nearly every other filament 3D-printer (including later Makerbots) uses a stepper motor. Because of this difference the current slicers (Cura, Slic3r) don't work right with the T-o-M, and replacement electronics won't help as those won't be compatible with the extruder. This single comment to a Reddit question mentions a possible solution, but the better way looks to be to replace the extruder drive with a stepper (and the electronics with a controller to drive four steppers).

I think you should also read this person's modifications to try to fix the idiosyncracies of the standard T-o-M.
posted by Stoneshop at 2:28 PM on July 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

Seconding the ScribbleJ firmware & getting an aftermarket stepper extruder. Sadly the particular stepper extruder kit I used back in the day doesn't seem to be offered any more :(

Though at this point I'd recommend spending the money on a Prusa or Prusa Mini, the auto-homing and auto-leveling features alone are worth the price of admission.
posted by genpfault at 3:24 PM on July 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

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