Well, as you may know, we at Tx/Rx Labs have been assembling a MakerBot recently. After working through several small issues, we are very close to printing our first object. This weekend we did some testing of the X/Y/Z axis controls and started experimenting with slicing models and converting them into GCode.
STL is a facet based representation that approximate surface and solid entities only. Entities such as points, lines, curves, and attributes such as layer, colour, in the CAD systems will be ignored during the output process. This is the prefered model type for slicing and printing. Once you have your STL model, you run it through Skeinforge. Skeinforge is a GPL tool chain to forge a gcode skein for an STL model. It pretty much slices your STL model into layers of a thickness you set depending on your printer and then creates the gcode which is used to drive the actual printer. Once you have the gcode, you process this through replicatorg, a nice GUI for controlling and running RepRap compatible machines.
Our extruder is currently non-functional due to a small issue we had with the nichrome heater wire, but this has been resolved and we are just waiting for some new nichrome to rewind the coil and put the heater back together. It should be here next week so expect another post soon with an actual print. Here’s a small video of our testing. Sorry for the bad quality.