Maintenance and Upkeep

Keep your Bot Running

The Thing-O-Matic does not require much maintenance. Once you have it built and running, it will provide you with many hours of hands-off printing. However, some of the Thing-O-Matic's mechanical parts, especially the ones in constant movement, are subject to wear and should be tuned from time to time. The following list are things you should be mindful of while using your machine.

Belt Tension

If the belts curve down and the sides flatten, they are likely too loose.

Symptoms of loose belts may include skipped steps, 'backlash' (see below), or infill that doesn't reach a printed object's inner shell surface.

When the motor switches directions, there is a certain amount of movement it must do in order to pick up the slack on the other side before it can actually move the axis. This 'backlash' causes the constructed part to be inaccurate.

For more information on tightening belts, see the proper belt tensioning page.

Keep X,Y, and Z Rods Lubricated

If your machine is very loud and seems to vibrate a lot when moving, you probably need to lubricate the rods.

All three Thing-O-Matic axes rely on 3/8" diameter precision rods to ensure smooth linear travel without any wobbling. Adding lubrication will clean the rods, reduce friction and minimize long-term wear on the bushings as they slide along these rods.

Grab a clean rag, apply some lubricant to the rag, and run the rag up and down each rod.


Tighten Your Bolts

The bolts on your machine can vibrate loose over time. This is particularly true on the X, Y, and Z axes. Loose bolts can lead to failures or extra noise. If this happens, take your hex key out and tighten any bolts that feel loose.

Upgrade Your Bot

One of the great things about a 3D printer is that it can print its own upgrades, and the Makerbot community is constantly producing designs to improve your bot. You will find a big list of ToM upgrades at

Next Step: Fine Tuning and Advanced Calibration

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.