3D printing just got a lot easier for students and teachers who use Chromebooks, as MakerBot launched its new My MakerBot platform that crams everything they need into one in-browser tool. By using My MakerBot, users can now access all 3D printers on the network, all orders, support cases, and Thingiverse accounts. This new platform is complemented by the upcoming release of MakerBot’s guidebook for educators slated for the start of the 2017 school year.
For those not familiar with MakerBot, the company set out to create affordable, easily accessible 3D printing solutions in 2009, starting with the Cupcake CNC. MakerBot’s first Wi-Fi 3D printer didn’t arrive until MakerBot’s acquisition by Stratasys in 2013. However, MakerBot said earlier this year that it would put a heavier focus on the professional and education sectors, and the new My MakerBot platform is part of that move.
“It gives users the ability to upload and prepare files, print, then monitor their progress from any device, anywhere,” the company said. ”The new platform broadens student access to 3D printers in Chromebook classrooms and makes it easier for educators to manage their use.”
The new My MakerBot dashboard is split into two parts: the menu on the left and the main window. In the menu, users will see the Account section listing the dashboard home-screen link, selections for basic information, payment and shipping information, and a sign-out option. The menu’s Printers section is where the dashboard pulls up all 3D printers located on the network, such as those located in the library, math department, and so on.
MakerBot’s 3D printers aren’t exactly cheap. The company’s largest printer, the Replicator Z18, costs $6,500 and stands 18 inches high. Targeting the professional sector, the firm builds large industrial-grade products, models, and prototypes. The $2,500 Replicator+ is the next step down for professionals and educators, printing 11.6 x 7.6 x 6.3-inch objects. Meanwhile, the $1,300 Replicator Mini+ is a compact solution for printing 4.0 x 5.0 x 5.0 -inch objects.
In addition to the launch of its new My MakerBot platform, the company also said that it teamed up with Autodesk to support the popular K-12 design software Tinkercad on My MakerBot. This connectivity will enable students to stay within the browser environment to create their designs in Autodesk’s software, export them to My MakerBot, and print them on a networked 3D printer.
As for the MakerBot Educators Guidebook, this upcoming tool will include nine “teacher-tested” lesson plans along with a guidebook to the new My MakerBot platform, a crash course in 3D design and printing, a large 3D printing curriculum library, Thingiverse Education lesson plans, and more. The book’s first project, Cloud Types, can be downloaded for free right now here.
“We wrote the guidebook in collaboration with over eighty MakerBot educators, all dedicated leaders in STEM education, in order to deliver the ultimate resource for learning the basics, best practices, and for finding high quality lesson plans,” the company said.
To see our picks for the top five 3D printers you can purchase today, head here.