MakerBot Desktop. Source: WhiteClouds
MakerBot Desktop. Source: WhiteClouds

MakerBot recently released a new software update called MakerBot Desktop BETA. MakerBot states, “MakerBot Desktop [is] a complete, free 3D printing solution for discovering, managing, and sharing your 3D prints.” We agree; the new interface improves the way we interact with 3D printables and our MakerBot 3D printer. MakerBot Desktop can be downloaded here.

We tested MakerBot Desktop using a Replicator 2 3D printer. If you have a 5th Generation MakerBot printer, you will have more options available, such as the Monitoring feature.

Here’s an overview of the features in MakerBot Desktop:

Explore – Here you can explore Thingiverse right from MakerBot Desktop. Thingiverse is an archive of user-submitted 3D designs. You can download others’ designs and share your own. Thingiverse is a community where you can meet and follow other members.

From the Explore tab you can Collect things to add them to MakerBot Library. You can print things directly from the Explore tab by clicking the Prepare button.

Library – The Library provides access to a secure, cloud-enabled system for organizing your 3D printable files. The preset folders are Purchased Things, Thingiverse and My Library. You can add more folders to further organize you 3D printable files. You’ll receive some free samples from the MakerBot store in Purchased Things that you can download and 3D print.

Prepare – This is the screen where you’ll prepare your 3D models to print. The Prepare screen resembles the old MakerWare—the layout is familiar and you see many of the same buttons and features. You’ll see the same ViewMoveTurn and Scale icons on the left side of the screen. These features function the same way they did in MakerWare.

There are also some new features:

  • Settings opens the Print Settings. This is where you can choose the material, the resolution, turn the raft and supports on and off, and access the Advanced Options.
  • Add File adds a file to the build plate.
  • Save to Library will save the printable X3G file to your library. This file will include any of the print settings you have selected for the print. 
  • Export Print File will export an X3G file—a file which can be used with your MakerBot 3D Printer. Before exporting, there is a summary of your build includes print time, amount of filament, and more.
  • Print will print your object. MakerBot added a Print preview window that will give you some information before printing the object. You can see how long the print will take, how much filament the print will use and click a link to see a Print Preview. This is a practical upgrade from MakerWare.
  • Monitor, located in the lower-right corner of the screen, allows you to check on your prints if you have a 5th generation printer connected via Wi-Fi. You can use the 3D printer’s camera to see how your print is doing.

Store – The MakerBot Digital store allows you to browse and purchase 3D printable files. The models range in price from $0.99 - $3.99 and include toys, desktop organizers, flower pots and more. Digital purchases are automatically saved to your library.

Learn - This is where you will find brief video tutorials on how to use MakerBot Desktop. Tutorial topics include a Walkthrough, Exporting Files, Prepare for Printing and Exploring Thingiverse.

Click here to learn more about using your MakerBot 3D printer.