Skip to content Skip to navigation

MakerBot Mini Instructions

Please follow the steps in this guide sequentially as  jumping ahead may lead to malfunctions later in the process.

To use this machine you will need to check out a Smart Extruder and the MakerBot Mini Build Plate from the Lathrop Library Tech Desk.

Getting Started with the MakerBot Mini

If you are using the computer that is already connected, skip to STEP 3

STEP 1: Installing the MakerBot Desktop printing software

STEP 2: Getting ready to print

Open MakerBot Desktop.

Take the black USB cord and plug it into your laptop.

Turn on the MakerBot Mini (switch is located on the left hand side of the machine).

The machine will take about a minute to warm up. You will hear a chime when the machine is ready.

STEP 3: Setting up the extruder and build plate

Take the Smart Extruder snap it into place where you see the the blue arrow and label “Extruder.”

If it’s not fitting into place correctly, check the brass dial on the left interior of the Extruder and line the teeth up with the machine’s matching dial.

The software will indicate when the Extruder is correctly attached.

STEP 4: Load the filament into the extruder

In MakerBot Desktop, click on the "Devices" toolbar and select "Change Filament.”

You will be prompted with the option to load or unload filament; select  “Load.”

Wait for the machine to heat the extruder. When it is ready, you’ll hear a chime.

Take the plastic filament and insert it into the extruder guide (white, hollow plastic tube).

Gently push the filament through until you meet resistance. You will then feel the filament being pulled in into the extruder.

The MakerBot will tell you when it is finished loading the filament on screen.

STEP 5: Selecting a 3D model to print

You can upload your own files directly into the MakerBot software by clicking the "ADD FILE" button.

Accepted 3D file formats are: .stl, .obj and .thing (a proprietary MakerBot file type that saves print information such as layer height, supports, etc.).

If the object is too big for the build plate, it will prompt you to "scale to fit.” You will need to accept this change in order to successfully print.

You will also want to "Center" your 3D object by again clicking on the crossed arrows. Centered objects print more reliably than uncentered objects.

Select "Move to Platform" option to place the 3D model onto the digital build plate. Objects not on the build plate will not print successfully.

If you don’t have your own 3D model that you’re printing, you can look through the Thingiverse library. You’ll need a MakerBot account to access and download files.

STEP 6: Printing your 3D Model

Once you are happy with the model, you can either choose to "EXPORT PRINT FILE" which willready the printer and let you save the file as a .thing, or just select "PRINT" to start the 3D printing process.

If you need to change some of the print parameters, such as layer height, or if your object needs supports, select “Settings” which listed as an option next to "ADD FILE.”  

Most of the time, the default settings will work for your project.

If you anticipate a lot of physical force of some sort being applied to the printed object (pressure, torque, pushing, pulling, etc.), consider a higher infill percentage:

  • 0% is a hollow object
  • 100% is a solid object


For more help and guidance on the MakerBot Mini, you can select the "Learn" button at thevery top near “Store." Look for a video called “MakerBot Mini” toward the end of the list.

You can also watch some videos if you’d like more in-depth info on how the printer works and how to get the best possible prints. You’ll need to sign in with your SUNetID and password, and then search for “MakerBot” to find the relevant courses.

STEP 7: Remove print from build plate

Once the 3D model is all done, you will want to peel it off from the build plate. To do this you can either do it by hand (tug firmly), or use available tools at the Tech Desk for smaller or delicate items. The print is easiest to remove right after the machine has finished the print, while the plastic is still warm. When your print is removed from the build plate and the filament unloaded, you’ll need to return the Smart Extruder and Mini Build Plate to the Tech Desk.

STEP 8: Unloading filament out of the Extruder

In MakerBot Desktop, click on the "Devices" toolbar and select "Change Filament.” You will be prompted with the option to load or unload filament; select “Unload.”

Wait for the machine to heat the extruder and push the filament out. When it is ready, you’ll hear a chime. Pull the filament carefully and firmly from the extruder.

After removing the filament, the MakerBot will confirm that the filament is unloaded. 

Let the extruder cool for a few minutes.

Remove the extruder (pull firmly as it is magnetically attached).

Return the Smart Extruder, build plate and any tools that you’ve checked out to the Tech Desk.

Learning Hub @ Lathrop

Visit the Learning Hub @ Lathrop
Print a poster, reserve equipment at the tech desk, make a podcast, use the create:space and more!

Become a Tutor

Become a subject tutor or foreign language conversation partner!
Applications are now open. Learn More

Learning Hub

Your space to learn, grow, explore, and experiment. Learn More >>