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Important Preface from the DREAMS Lab 

Using the DreamVendor is surprisingly easy, but it does require some up-front effort on your part in the installation (and configuration) of a few pieces of software. We ask that you please carefully follow the instructions below as an error in setup can cause significant problems for your part and the DreamVendor's 3D Printers (called MakerBots). If something isn't working, carefully review the instructions again and look for steps you've missed. Any questions or concerns should be directed to  If there are problems with the printers, let us know at (540) 860-0881. 

Keep in mind that this is somewhat of a bold endeavor, so there are bound to be a few hiccups along the way. We appreciate your patience and willingness to experiment, play, and learn with us. If you'd like to learn more about additive manufacturing and many of the other parts you see displayed in the DreamVendor, start by visiting the Facility page here on our website. Happy printing! 


Process Overview 

To use the DreamVendor, you will need to follow these general steps. Detailed instructions for each step are provided below. 

1. Use any CAD program to make a 3D solid model the abides by our rules, tips, and tricks, then export the part as a .STL file 

2. Using ReplicatorG 0029_r2, scale, rotate, and translate your model as needed so that it will fit onto the MakerBot's printing platform, then generate the GCode and translate it into the machine code necessary to run the MakerBot (Note: to use ReplicatorG, you will need to install Python) 

3. Load the resulting machine code file (.s3g) onto your personal SD card (only 2GB cards or less) 

4. Insert the SD card into one of the DreamVendor's interface boards (each controls a separate MakerBot loaded with a different color of plastic), start your print, and close the bin 

5. Once the print is finished, you can collect your part and SD card, then once again close the bin 


Before Using the DreamVendor 

1. Obtain a personal SD card (No adapters and nothing larger than 2GB, i.e., SDHC, SDXC, microSD, and miniSD cards will not work) 

a. We recommend avoiding generic (non-name brand) cards and particularly old SD cards as they have been known to not work 

2. Save a 3D model as a .STL file (solids only, no surfaces) 

As an example, to save a .STL file in Autodesk Inventor, use the following procedure: 

a. Go to "File > Export > CAD Format" 

b. Select “STL Files (*.stl)” from "Save as type" drop-down menu 

c. Click “Options” before saving and change the units to millimeters (regardless of what the units of your file are, millimeters are what ReplicatorG expects) 

Other CAD programs follow the same process via either an "Export" or "Save As..." command. 


Download & Install 

Here we download and install the required software and additional files for the process 

3. Go to the DreamVendor downloads page and download all of the files listed on the page. Please only use the program versions hosted here 

4. After downloading all the files, right-click the ReplicatorG .zip file and select “Extract All…” Extract it somewhere it can permanently reside (e.g., C:\). Do not open any of these extracted files yet. 

5. Open the downloaded Python 2.7.2 .zip file, extract the contents, then run the .msi file and follow the on-screen instructions to install with the default settings 


Setting up ReplicatorG 0029_r2 

This will set your personal defaults in ReplicatorG and will only need to be completed before your first build (unless you delete and reinstall ReplicatorG). 

6. Open the location to which you extracted the ReplicatorG folder and run the ReplicatorG.exe file (you may wish to create a shortcut for this program as you will need it every time you print) 

7. After the program opens, set the type of machine you will be using by going to "Machine > Machine Type (Driver) > Thingomatic w/ ABP and Stepstruder MK7" 

8. Confirm the GCode generator by going to "GCode > GCode generator > Skeinforge (35)" 


Generating GCode with ReplicatorG 0029_r2 

These steps need to be done for every part you build (unless otherwise noted in an individual step) 

9. Go to "File > Open…" 

10. Locate and select the .STL file to be built, or drag your file directly into the ReplicatorG window. 

11. In the ReplicatorG – 0029_r2 window, select the “Model” tab if not already selected (this usually occurs automatically) 

12. If you see the build platform (cube), but not your model, click “Scale” on bottom right and click “inches -> mm” (this scales .STL files that were exported in inches to millimeters, which ReplicatorG expects, see Rules, Tips, and Tricks for more information about scaling) 

13. Move and scale the model as needed using the options in the bottom right corner of the window 

14. Under “Move”, choose “Put on platform” after all other desired changes have been made and select “Center” 

15. Important: If your part is anywhere near the edges of the box shown, it is too big and will damage the MakerBot! See the rules listed on the DreamVendor Rules, Tips, and Tricks page for more information 

16. Select the “Generate GCode” button in the lower right corner of the window or the “Model to GCode” icon in the toolbar at the top of the window (which looks like an arrow pointing to a lowercase g on a piece of paper, next to the pause button) 

17. If you manipulated the model within ReplicatorG, you will be prompted to save the changes to your model. You must click “Yes” or else your changes will be ignored when building your model and you may damage the MakerBot. This will overwrite the .STL file you used 

18. Select “DreamVendor” from the base profile drop-down menu 

19. Change the other settings in the "GCode Generator" window to match what follows: 

a. CHECK – “Use raft” 

b. Select “Full Support” on the “Use support material” drop-down menu 

c. UNCHECK – “Use Print-O-Matic (stepper extruders only)” 

d. UNCHECK – “Automatically generate when building.” 

20. Double-check that these settings are correct before continuing 

21. Click “Generate GCode” 

22. Wait for the GCode to be generated (a progress meter should open in a new window) 

23. Once generated, the notification pane at the bottom should show “Toolpath generation complete!” If instead you see error messages, there may be an issue with your .STL file 

24. At the top menu bar, go to "GCode > Estimate" and take note of the estimated build time provided in the notification pane at the bottom of the ReplicatorG window 

25. Insert your SD card (remember, no SDHC, SDXC, microSD, or miniSD cards) 

26. Click on the “Build to file” icon in the toolbar at the top of the window (which looks like an arrow pointing to a piece of lined paper, next to the “Model to GCode” button) 

27. Select your SD card on which to save the file. The file must be stored in the base directory of the SD card; it cannot be inside a folder 

28. Begin your filename with the estimated build time (e.g., "1h15m_filename.s3g" or "20m_filename.s3g"

a. Filenames should not be more than about 20 characters long because the MakerBots will not recognize the file 

29. Wait until the transfer is complete and the notification pane says “Done building.” before removing your SD card, which is now ready for the DreamVendor 


Printing at the DreamVendor: Print Setup 

This will allow you to use your SD card to print your model at the DreamVendor 

30. When you arrive at the DreamVendor, select a MakerBot that is not currently printing, heating up, or waiting for a model to cool before ejecting. This should be easy to tell because you will see that an SD card is still present and the screen is displaying information on the printing part. If the color you want is in use, you will have to wait until the last user returns to 

retrieve their part and SD card before you may use the MakerBot. DO NOT REMOVE OTHER USERS’ PARTS OR SD CARDS! 

a. The MakerBot is heating up when the screen shows the temperature values as “/225” and “/130”, as these are the temperatures (Celsius) that the extruder and build platform respectively, heat to before the build begins 

b. If for some reason a part is still on the platform but the SD card is gone from that MakerBot, there are two solutions. One is to access the “Eject Part” option from the panel screen menu and follow the onscreen instructions. The other is to just go ahead and print your part since the MakerBot will automatically make sure the platform is clear before printing. 

31. Insert your SD card into the slot on the MakerBot interface board 

32. If the previous user has retrieved their part and SD card but has not canceled their build (i.e., it still shows the name of their file and displays temperatures out of “/000”), then close their build by pressing “X” and selecting “Abort Print” 

33. Use the up and down buttons to select “Start Build” and press the “OK” button until you get to the list of printable files on your SD card. 

34. Use the up and down buttons to find your desired file and press the “OK” button. If the screen displays “Part not built w/ DreamVendor profile!”, then you need to start over and properly follow the above directions. 

35. CLOSE THE BIN NOW! If you do not close the bin, you will not be able to retrieve your part after the build 

36. The MakerBot will move and begin heating, then will begin printing your raft (the base on which your part will be printed), then will print your part. Afterwards, it will eject your part into the bin, as long as the bin is closed 

37. You must leave your SD card during the build (this is how the MakerBot is receiving commands) 


Printing at the DreamVendor: After Your Print 

This tells you what to do after your part is complete 

38. After the print is finished, the MakerBot will allow the part to cool until the bed reaches 95°C, then your part will be ejected into the bin 

39. After the part is ejected, wait until the platform moves to the back of the MakerBot and all motion has stopped. Close your build on the interface board by pressing “X” and selecting “Abort Print” 

40. Retrieve your part 

41. Retrieve your SD card 

42. Close the bin 

43. You may now break your raft and any support scaffolding off of your part and dispose of it (or keep it because it looks weird, just DO NOT throw it on the ground)