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3D Printing Do-It-Yourself: MakerBot Safety Shield

Article by Paul Sesto created/updated December 6, 2016

3D Printing health & safety is top priority for Javelin. All of our Stratasys FDM 3D Printers are fully enclosed and have electromechanical latches so they cannot be opened during operation.

MakerBot 3D Printers are engineered and tested for simple, safe, and reliable desktop 3D printing. One of the features of MakerBot Replicator+ and Replicator Mini+ 3D Printers is that they are not fully enclosed. However, there is an easy and cost effective solution to prevent users from touching the build chamber while the printer is in use. I designed and created a 3-sided shield that you can make yourself. The Javelin MakerBot Safety Shield can be easily made by all users of MakerBot 3D Printers.

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I have visited public libraries that use a U-shaped Plexiglas barrier to protect the general public from direct contact with their MakerBot 3D Printer. This gave me the idea for the Javelin MakerBot Safety Shield.

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As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”. I could go to the expense of having a plexi-shield manufactured, but with some thought and planning I found that it was quite easy to build my own cost-effective solution. This shield is something that others can make for themselves using easy-to-find supplies. Once the materials were acquired, the project was assembled in less than 45 minutes. The shield was built for less than $50.00.

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Designing the Shield

To start, I designed the corner connectors and end pieces in TinkerCAD software. TinkerCAD is a basic, free 3D CAD software that is popular with elementary school students. The connectors were then 3D printed on the very printer I was going to shield – the MakerBot Replicator+. I first printed one of each part to test the dimensions and ensure proper fit. I then printed the final parts. The Plexiglas used was 3mm thick and the slots in the connector pieces were made 3.2mm wide. This was to give some assembly clearance and leave room for the glue.

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Building the Shield

All of the other materials were purchased at a local hardware store. As part of their service, the store cut the 3mm Plexiglas to size. I simply took some sandpaper to the edges to ensure that there were no rough edges. For the Replicator+, I used one piece of Plexiglas that was 22” wide x 14” high and 2 pieces 15” wide x 14” high – all 3mm thick. For the Mini+, you could use 3 pieces of 13” wide x 14” high. Double check the dimension yourself. The same corner connectors can be used for both shield sizes.

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Gap-filling cyanoacrylate (a thicker version of “Crazy Glue”) was used to glue the plexi pieces into the corner connectors. Make sure you use a minimum amount of this glue, as excess amounts when drying will cloud the local area of the Plexiglas.

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To strengthen the two edge joints I applied a strip of wallpaper corner shield that has its own tape. This corner protector is used on outside walls to protect wallpaper from wear. In my case, I used it to hide the plexi joint. On the inside of the joint I applied a bead of construction adhesive and used a tongue depressor as a fillet tool to get a smooth finish. Before applying this adhesive I temporarily placed masking tape parallel to the joint on both sides to protect the plexi from excess glue. As soon as the fillet was done and the area was cleaned the tape was removed. The Javelin MakerBot Safety Shield was complete!

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Make Your Own MakerBot Shield

One of the great benefits to MakerBot Print is that you can print directly from the CAD file instead of having to convert to the usual STL file format. The CAD file for the 3D printed corner connectors is available to download. Contact me if you have questions or would like the corner connector CAD file to make your own MakerBot Safety Shield. Visit the Javelin Web Store to learn more about MakerBot 3D Printers.

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