What is 3D printing?

3D printing is the process of making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model. While used widely in commercial manufacturing for many years, it has recently gained popularity for at-home consumer use.

What is ThingMaker Design™?

ThingMaker Design is an app that allows users to design and customize characters, scary creatures or jewelry and accessories digitally with the option to 3D print for their families. A vast library of interchangeable and customizable parts makes it engaging for a variety of users. Once 3D printed, these parts can be snapped together to create your design in real life. Special features (including the simple drag-and-drop functionality) have been added to make the world of 3D design easy and fun for the whole family.

Where can I download ThingMaker Design?

ThingMaker Design is available in the App Store and Google Play.

Can I use ThingMaker Design on my phone or tablet?

ThingMaker Design works on both smart phones and tablets; however, for the optimum experience, it is recommended for use on the tablet.

Which OS is required to use ThingMaker Design?

ThingMaker Design will work with iOS 8 and Android 4.2 or higher.

I’ve finished my design. How do I export my model to print?

There are currently two ways to retrieve your files for printing:

1. Upload the design to your laptop or desktop directly using a web link.

To do this, first be sure that the device containing ThingMaker Design and the computer are connected to the same local wi-fi network.

  1. On the build screen, click on the blue print button in the lower control bar. This takes you to the print screen and the virtual build plate.
  2. After making any needed adjustments, click the gear icon to open the settings menu.
  3. Open the drop down menu under the "Output" header and choose "Web Browser Download".
  4. Once you exit the settings menu, hit the blue print button once again. This will give you an IP address.
  5. Next, open a web browser on your computer and type in the IP address.
  6. Click "Download" to get your files in .zip format. The .zip contains .stl files which will work on any 3D printer. (Note: You will only be able to download your files while the IP address is displayed on your mobile device.)
  7. Once your files are on your computer, use your printing software to print your files.

2. Upload your design to Dropbox or Google Drive.

  1. Click on the blue print button in the lower control bar. This will take you to the print screen.
  2. Make any needed adjustments, then select the gear icon on the right side of the control bar to open the settings menu.
  3. Open the dropdown menu under the "Output" heading to select your preferred online service and select "Connect to..." Once you’ve provided your authentication details, you can exit the settings menu.
  4. Upload your files by pressing the blue print button on the print screen. You will see a progress screen.
  5. When it’s uploaded, log onto the service on your computer, download your files, and use your printer’s software to print your files.

I exported my parts. Why can’t I fit them on my print bed as shown in the app?

Make sure you set up the dimensions of your printer in the print settings section. This will allow Thingmaker Design to automatically separate your parts into groups that fit on your print bed.

In this case, it’s easy to go back into the app and adjust the dimensions of the virtual print bed to match your physical print bed’s dimensions.

  1. Go into any model.
  2. Click the large blue print button at the bottom of the design screen.
  3. Click the gear on the right side of the bottom control area.
  4. Click the first line on left side, under "Printer". The default setting is "MakerBot."
  5. Select "Other."
  6. To enter the specifications for you printer, click the gray squares for "Width", "Depth", and "Height" to enter the dimensions of each. Be sure to click either "in" (inches) or "cm". If you are unsure of your printer’s dimensions, consult the user manual.
  7. Now exit the screen to see how the parts fit in your new layout.

I don’t have a 3D printer, where can I print my designs?

There are many places that offer 3D printing fulfillment locally or online and can be found with a simple web search. ThingMaker 3D Studios is also developing the ThingMaker™ 3D printer—available Fall 2016, pre-order now.

What material is best for printing my parts?

There are plenty of materials available for 3D printers. Please consult your printer's user manual for the material recommended.

Why are the joints on my ThingMaker design parts loose when printed?

All ThingMaker Design printed pieces use a ball and socket joint system. In some cases, the sockets will loosen over time. If your figure is loose with the first assembly, it might mean that the ball connectors are distorted and have printed slightly 'flat' instead of a spherical shape. This can happen if the ball has come loose from the print plate during printing or if the first layer of the ball gets knocked off of the print plate. In either case, your print head needs to move closer to the print bed. Please consult the user manual for your printer.

Why are the printed parts droopy in some places?

ThingMaker Design was developed to consider each part’s printability across a variety of printers. However, many parts contain "overhangs" which means they aren't supported by anything beneath it. These parts are built upon the layer beneath it in a way that allows for some amazing feats of gravity from your printer. Each printer handles overhangs differently and can be adjusted to improve the results. If you are experiencing droopiness in your overhangs, consult your printer's user manual to see if increasing or decreasing the speed provides better adhesion, which may improve the quality of the overhang.

Why are my printed parts too tight to fit together?

The first snap of a newly printed part can be difficult at times, but they will generally loosen a bit after the first assembly. If the problem persists, try adjusting your print head to be a bit farther away from the print surface and compare the results. You should consult your printer’s user manual.

Why are the sockets breaking with assembly?

A broken part may be due to the 3D printing software interpreting the file in ways that creates voids or flaws in the print. Use your 3D printing software to print again to see if you have better results. Also, the detailing in our texture tool can sometimes cause unusual geometry that could be misinterpreted when slicing and printing.

Why are my parts being knocked off of the build plate?

What we've learned is that the most important part of a 3D print is the first layer. It determines how securely the entire part is attached to the build plate. If parts of the first layer are coming loose, please consult your printer's manual. The print head may not be close enough to the print bed and bringing them closer together may solve the issue.

Also, the print bed may not be level. In this case, follow your printer manufacturer's procedure for leveling the print bed.

Why are my first layers curling at the edges and being knocked off?

If your parts are curling at one edge, this is a sure sign that your print bed isn’t level. Follow your printer manufacturer's procedure for leveling the print bed.

When I try to print a full plate of parts, why are the parts at the edges being knocked over by the print head?

Printing large plates of parts can be difficult and requires a lot of patience to adjust your printer well enough to use the entire print surface. ThingMaker Design automatically separates your parts into “plates” to allow for optimal spacing and printability. However, every printer is different. Please consult your printer manual for tips.

You can also try the following:

  • Move parts as close to the center of the virtual print plate as possible. This might mean that you need to place parts closer together than our original plate pattern.
  • Try turning the parts 90 degrees.
  • Long parts seem to print better configured side-to-side, than front-to-back.
  • Recalibrate your print head and then print only the first layer or two of the large plate file to see if you need to adjust it more. Look for curled edges and small parts breaking free for clues as to which areas of the print bed need calibrating.

Why do I have holes or layers missing in my printed parts?

This is usually an issue caused by either the slicer/print software or the printer itself. Check to make sure you are using your printer manufacturer’s latest software and firmware. You should consult your printer’s manual for update procedures and more troubleshooting.

Why do my parts look too wide on the bottom layers?

Consult your printer’s manual. This could be a sign that your print head is located too close to the print bed. Adjusting your print head carefully, allowing for more space in between the print head and print bed, may fix the issue.