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3D Printing @UofMLibraries

Guide to the 3D Printing Lab at the University of Memphis

Printer Tricks

3D Printing Tips and TricksFor  Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation


  • Normal Makerware does not work with these printers. Be sure you have downloaded the Makerbot Desktop Application.
  • Print jobs cannot be stopped, paused, or restarted.
  • The print tray should be clean of debris and excess filament before printing. 
  • The tray shoul be covered in blue painters tape or sprayed with Aquanet Hair Spray before printing.
  • The printer has better X-Y accuracy than Z-accuracy, so if you want accurate holes, pillars, cylinders, screw threads, etc. in your objects, arrange them so these objects rise up vertically instead of laying them down horizontally.

Homing Error:

   If the printer stops your job before printing because of a homing error, reprint the job. If it continues to say homing error, or if it says homing error and stops your job midprint email

Filament Not Extruding:

If the filament does not extrude, try unloading filament and reloading. Allow the printer to rewind the filament entirely before pulling filament out. If filament does not pull out ask for help or contact

Scanner Tricks

    • Objects with bright, non-reflective surfaces work best. Colors like black absorb the lazer light making scannning more difficult

    • Scan objects from 2-3 angles using multi-scan feature to create more complete object

    • Do not move in front of camera once scanning begins

    • Each scan takes 9 minutes

    • If printer needs recalibration, please notify library staff


During a scan, the MakerBot Digitizer shines laser beams on your object. The camera captures images of the laser lines and MakerWare for Digitizer translates those images into a point cloud. Objects that are either too reflective or not reflective enough will result in images that are difficult for the software to interpret. That is why it can be difficult to produce a high-quality scan of an object that is shiny, fuzzy, or very dark.

To scan objects that fit this description, try one or more of the following:

  • Dust reflective or transparent objects with a fine white powder such as corn starch or baby powder to reduce reflections.
  • Paint an object to reduce shininess, smooth a fuzzy texture, remove transparency, or turn a very dark object white.
  • Cover fuzzy, mirrored, or transparent sections of an object with masking tape.