Getting Started With 3D Printing

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Calibration Of Your Bot
Calibrating your printer is very important and should be done in order to get prints that look as they should. You can find all kinds of guides online but, some have been known to be difficult for those who have a hard time wrapping their heads at round the concept. I found this article when trying to help a friend with this process. It can be adapted to almost any printer. It is a step by step guide with pictures.

Here’s The Link: Calibration Guide

Make: “Getting Started With 3D Printing.”

If you’re the new owner of a 3D printer, a new world of learning and discovery has just been opened up to you. There are many lessons and new skills you will learn in the coming weeks and months. What follows are a few of the things that I have learned in the past three years of working with such printers.

In the press today the 3D printing topic is HOT!

The 3D printing technology made its way to the technological world in the year 1986, but not gain importance until 1990. It was not that popular outside the world of engineering, architecture and manufacturing.

3D printing is also known as desktop fabrication, it can form any material that can be obtained as a powder. For creating an object you need a digital 3D-model. You can scan a set of 3D images, or draw it using computer-assisted design or CAD software. You can also download them from internet. The digital 3D-model is usually saved in STL format and then sent to the printer. The process of “printing” a three-dimensional object layer-by-layer with equipment, which is quite similar with ink-jet printers.
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One of the most important applications of 3D printing is in the medical industry. With 3D printing, surgeons can produce mockups of parts of their patient’s body which needs to be operated upon.

3D printing make it possible to make a part from scratch in just hours. It allows designers and developers to go from flat screen to exact part.

Nowadays almost everything from aerospace components to toys are getting built with the help of 3D printers.

3D printing can provide great savings on assembly costs because it can print already assembled products. With 3D printing, companies can now experiment with new ideas and numerous design iterations with no extensive time or tooling expense. They can decide if product concepts are worth to allocate additional resources. 3D printing could even challenge mass production method in the future.

3D printing is going to impact so many industries, such as automotive, medical, business & industrial equipment, education, architecture, and consumer-product industries.

Tools That Should Be In Every Reprappers Tool Kit

A pocket level ensures things are reasonably level before further calibration and fine tuning
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These are few of the things i’ve used/and bought over the past few months while owning a 3D printer. If you’re new to the 3D printing world (and making, in general), collecting and/or using some of these will make your life easier.

These are the basics, so you may be able to borrow these from a (friendly) maker and/or tinkerer.

Thread-Locking Fluid

In the first few months weeks of owning my 3D printer, I made the mistake of assembling my printer without thread-locking fluid. Of course, bolts and screws fell off during long prints causing incalculable amounts of wasted time and filament.

Thread locker (or the stuff by its popular brand name: Loctite) keeps a bolt from freeing itself (usually via vibration forces), while allowing it to be removed by hand if needed.

Adding loctite is best done during a printer build. If certain parts are constantly coming loose, working it in as needed will do too.

Part #: 91458A115 (McMaster-Carr, Loctite 243, Blue)

Stuff To Make Things Move

For squeaks, metal on metal noises, or just for things that move and make contact, adding a few drops of lubricant is occasionally needed to keep things in good form.

Some printing guides prefer sprays (especially on vertical areas like Z-axis rods). For several months i’ve been using a liquid lubricant, which contains PTFE (without issue so far). I didn’t intend to use it for my printer, but it ended up working quite well.

Part #: 1155K33 (McMaster-Carr). You get a lot for about $5 (not including shipping of course).

Another great lubricant is called SuperLube with PTFE. I have been using it for over a year and I now wouldn’t use any other product.

Pocket Level

On my particular printer, there is the potential for a lot of things to go out of alignment (either due to stresses at rest, or operator error). A small level is great for getting things into a general ball park for further fine tuning.

The Stabila Pocket Level ($10) is magnetic (the magnetized area isn’t obvious, but it is on the bottom). It also has a very clear window for viewing the bubble, and is slightly more fluid than some of the other bubble levels I have on hand.

While it is a bit expensive for a smaller level (slightly larger levels like torpedo levels are well within or below its price), this is a pretty good quality level that seems like it will last.

It will also (unlike torpedo levels) fit into areas with very little clearance.

What does it look like? Scroll up a bit. 🙂

Part #: Stabila 11990 Pocket Level – (Amazon)

Cable/Zip Ties

If your printer looks anything like mine, nearly everything (including the pullies and even some of the linear bearings) are held together by these ties. And sometimes readjusting things means cutting those ties.

For a few bucks you can stop cursing while trying to find a replacement tie.

Part #: 7130K41 (McMaster-Carr). These are the smaller ‘micro’ zip ties, and come in a large enough pack to stave off regret at the amount of zip tie waste you’re bound to generate.

Long Screwdriver/Racheting Driver

Who doesn’t have a screwdriver? (Answer: A person who needs one right now.)

A ratcheting driver makes a surprising difference on a printer.

I’ve been quite happy with a Stanley Ratcheting Screwdriver ($10). The shortened turn in ratchet mode is great when working in tight spaces (where it is hard/annoying to do “full” turns).

This particular driver comes with several extra bits hidden in the endcap and has the ability to become a normal/fixed screwdriver with a twist of the knob.

Normal screwdrivers are more than enough though, and this is really just optional.

Part #: Stanley 69-189 Ratcheting Multi-Bit Screwdriver – (Amazon)

Other Accessories

These are parts that I have no specific recommendation for, but once you have them you may wonder what you did without them!

Straight Tweezers

At working temperatures, the extruder gets really hot. And print beds do as well. To save yourself from getting actual 3D printing battle scars, get a pair of tweezers to pluck out stray strands of filament.

During warm up, just use the tweezers to pluck at the extruder, or to scrape off a small starting failure/error from the bed that has failed to adhere.

It is likely that you wouldn’t want to use an ESD-style tweezer (they’re often colored black with a matte finish). Mostly this is because some of them have a lightly applied coating that scratches easily. Save the ESD tweezers for sensitive electronics work.

Flush Cutters

Cutting filament is kind of an afterthought, but it needs to be done (usually when loading and unloading new/used filament). A pair of throwaway flush cutters will make doing so quick and easy.

It probably isn’t a good idea to use new or flush cutters you love. Certain plastics like PLA are fairly hard, which may cause faster wear and tear on cutters. Then again, decent cutters can be had for a good price nowadays (Xcelite cutters are pretty decent! Mouser Part #: 578-175M).

Detachable/Reusable Spool

Using filament freestyle without any sort of management is a recipe for disaster over time. Manyof my early troubles were due to buying spool-less, (but wound filament) and trying to wing it without a spool.

If I went to sleep, got a drink or otherwise looked away for a bit, the filament would somehow find a way to tangle, feed incorrectly, or do nasty things like snap (after tensing up due to tangling).

After resorting to hacks, (like turning the filament bag itself into a spool holder), I got kind of fed up and decided to just get a reusable spool.

A decent one for small quantities (1 lb, or 454 grams for everyone else), consists of a spool that can have the side detached (usually via screws) and filament loaded in.

I’ve found that the filament doesn’t necessarily have to be completely flush with the hub for small quantities (perhaps 1/2 a pound or less), just ‘enclosed’ by the spool walls.

Some good features to look out for are pre-drilled holes to put the filament ends into, and a standard diameter/width size (if you’ll be using multiple spools with a particular spool feeding system/holder).

For most spool setups, they should be mounted on some sort of holder where the filament can be pulled into the extruder smoothly (and consistently).

Spool Holder

There are plenty of examples on Thingiverse of spool holders. Some can be purchased for $8 and some can be made out of PVC pipe. Don’t forgo this for too long, as it is a pretty good addition to your printing kit if it isn’t already built-in to your printer.

Tongue-and-Groove Pliers

Otherwise known as Channellocks (which is also the name of the company that created them), these pliers are pretty great to have around, either to remove a print with brute force (if necessary, and if your print allows for it), or for tightening things.

If you don’t have these already, they can be cheaply had at many stores (McMaster-Carr also sells them), and are useful for other things around your home as well.

Calipers

This is usually required by every “Welcome to your brand new 3D printer!” guide. You’ll need one to calibrate things like extrusion amounts (when loading new filament) and to bring physical objects into CAD for printing.

Be sure to do extra research on the different types of calipers out there, as quality can vary a lot between types (veiner vs digital) and brands (Mitutoyo vs dollar store type).

Blue Painter’s Tape

A spool of something like 1/4” 3M Blue Painters’ Tape will work very well as a surface for your PLA print to adhere to (as long as the first few layers are pressed down into the tape proper). The larger width also makes resurfacing fairly easy.

I’ve also heard good things about plain old masking tape. You kind find it easily and affordably in wide rolls. I plan to test some out soon to see how well it works.

(ABS users will want to look into Kapton/Polyimide tape or squares)

**I am often asked where’s the best place to get some cheep tools that will get me started in 3D printing. I always recommend Harbor Freight as they have the best prices and they are pretty much a one stop shop for basic tools. Some tools there are of better quality than others but, some things are of great quality especially for the price. I always buy their calipers because they have a wide range at a great price and I’ve always had good luck with them.

Best of luck in your printing adventures!

Extruders

The RepRap Prusa Mendel is typically equiped with a Wade’s geared extruder like the one shown below. This extruder consists of two parts: a cold top part that feeds the platic filament and a hot bottom part that melts and extrudes the plastic. These two parts when assembled are commonly called the Wade extruder (the cold part) and the hot-end (the hot part).
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The Wade extruder consists of a large gear that is driven by a stepper motor. This large gear drives a bolt that pulls the plastic filament and pushes it into the hot-end where the plastic melts.

The hot-end is usually a brass bolt with a hole drilled down its vertical axis. This screw is called a heater barrel. There are two sizes of filament available: 3mm wide and 1.75mm wide. The hole drilled in your heater barrel will have to match the size of your filament! At the tip of the heat barrel the exit hole narrows down to less than 1mm (typically 0.5mm.)
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Two methods exist for heating the hot-end: using a resistor or using a NiChrome wire. A NiChrome wire is the easiest to get started since you will only need a heater barrel with a nozzle. A resistor requires a heater block that is screwed onto the heater barrel.
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There are several main types of extruders not previously mentioned: Direct drive and bowden. A bowden extruder uses a PTFE tube to feed the filament through to the hot end. A bowden extruder has the extruder motor mounted somewhere else other than the typical mounting on an axis. The advantage of a bowden extruder is that the weight is severely loward due to the relocation of the motore. Below is an example of a bowden extruder.
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There is also a direct drive extruder. A direct drive extruder is a bit of a typical wades style extruder mixed with a bowden extruder. It takes some of the best qualities of both and is becoming very popular within the RepRap community.

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Here's a direct drive extruder that is made from birch instead of printed parts.

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Here's the same direct drive extruder without the fan

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Here's a different version of a direct drive extruder.

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Here's the same one with a fan, the fan is used to keep the extruder and filament cool before it enters the extruder. This is important to help eliminate binding.

3D PRINTING TIPS
An unleveled build platform will cause many headaches during a print. So you’ll want to monitor this situation closely. You can quickly check the platform by doing the paper test:  use a single sheet of paper to judge the height of your extruder nozzle over the build platform. Set the extruder height at first layer height, then move it to all four corners and the center with the paper between the platform and the extruder. You want to be able to move the paper at all five positions but you also want the tip of the extruder to touch the paper at all five positions.
Regularly clean your build platform with rubbing alcohol. The oil from your hands will not allow the object you’re printing to stick to the build platform.
When you are printing in ABS plastic, make sure you preheat your build platform to its max temperature as preheating will help prevent edge curling.

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–This is what kapton tape looks like–

* When printing in PLA, on unheated build platform, cover your platform with blue painter’s tape. It is cheaper and better than Kapton tape for PLA adhesion.

* For a heated platform (used for printing in ABS), Kapton tape is best for covering the platform because it can withstand the heating and cooling of the platform better than painter’s tape.

* Are your prints still not sticking to your Kapton? Or do you have blue painter’s tape covering the building platform? Try using hair spray on it. Many people have tried this solution and have seen increased adhesion between the object and the build platform.

* When you are printing an object for the first time, do it on the lowest quality setting of the printer. You do not want to find out after hours of printing that the object is 1mm too small!

* Know the plastic with which you are printing. The two most popular types are ABS and PLA. Each plastic has its own characteristics, like melting temperature and extruding speed.  Make sure your printer’s profile is right for the plastic you are using.

QUICK 3DP GLOSSARY
The following are some key terms you need to know.

Raft – A technique used to prevent warping. Instead of directly on the build surface, parts are built on top of a “raft” of material that you remove and dispose of post-print. The raft is larger than the part and so has more adhesion.

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–Here’s a raft being printed–

Support material – For any part of the model where there is an overhang or gap between parts, a support material is laid down (as it would be impossible to print into thin air). The support material is removed once the print has finished, revealing the desired print. This removal can be accomplished by washing, dissolving, or breaking the support material off of the object.

G-Code – The common name for the most widely used computer numerical control (CNC) programming language, which has many implementations. Used mainly in automation, it is part of computer-aided engineering. G-Code is sometimes called G programming language. In fundamental terms, G-Code is a language in which people tell computerized machine tools what to make and how to make it. The “what” and “how” are mostly defined by instructions on where to move, how fast to move, and through what path to move.

STL files – Standard Tessellation Language or Stereo Lithography, STL is a file format native to the CAD software created by 3D Systems. This file format is supported by many other software packages and is widely used for rapid prototyping and computer-aided manufacturing. STL files describe only the surface geometry of a three dimensional object without any representation of color, texture, or other common CAD model attributes. The STL format specifies both ASCII and binary representations. Binary files are more common, since they are more compact. An STL file describes a raw unstructured triangulated surface by the unit normal and vertices (ordered by the right-hand rule) of the triangles using a three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system.

If you’re looking for objects to print, check out Thingiverse.com. There, you can search through all of the objects people have uploaded and then download the STL files to your printer.

Here’s a quick run though from, “I just heard about a 3D printer” to “I must have one. ”

Getting started

3D printing can be baffling. There’s so much to learn, it’s hard to know where to begin. This guide aims to take you through the process of choosing and buying a printer, and gives an overview of the software you’ll need to design and prepare your models for print. It also looks at sources of printable 3D models, and discusses the different options for producing prints online.

Do I need a 3D printer?

You don’t actually need to own a 3D printer in order to make use of the technology. There are several online resources that will print models and mail them to you, such as Shapeways, iMaterialise and Sculpteo. They can print your objects in a variety of materials, not just plastic, and while it isn’t cheap the results can be spectacular. There’s also Cubify, from the makers of the Cube 3D printer, who offer an ingenious (but very limited) online design experience.

These companies all ship internationally, but there may well be a local vendor near you that will save the shipping costs.

Which printer should I buy?

The first decision is whether you want a complete, assembled machine, or one that you build yourself. There are pros and cons to both routes, and it depends on how handy your are at mechanical builds – as well as how polished you want the finished machine to look.

Self-assembly is generally the less expensive option, but you have to be prepared for a sometimes complex build: it will probably take a day or even two to assemble a machine from parts. On the positive side, if anything goes wrong further down the line you’ll have a better idea of how to put it right, since disassembling and reassembling components won’t be such a daunting prospect. Examples of self-assembly machines are the original RepRap, as well as the Ultimaker and a few others. I personally think that sourcing your own parts or building your own printer is the best method due to the information being learned in the process. You must so take in to consideration that if you don’t already have basic tools available, then you will need to also purchase or borrow them.

Fully-assembled machines are likely to look less like they’ve been built from spare parts, but tend to be more expensive. Popular makes are Printrbot, Makerbot Replicator2, the 3D Systems Cube and CubeX, and thePP3DP Up! machines.

Where do I get 3D models?

If you don’t want to design your own models, you can find plenty of ready-made models online. All the on-demand print shops listed above offer a wide range of objects submitted by their users, and you can order prints in a variety of materials directly from their websites.

To find models to print on your own machine, your first port of call should be Thingiverse. Although it’s owned by Makerbot, manufacturers of the Replicator printer, it includes a vast range of models submitted by ordinary users – including many add-ons and replacement parts for just about every 3D printer, not just the Replicator. You can search on Thingiverse directly, or try the friendly Thingisearch to do the looking for you.

If even Thingiverse doesn’t have the models you need, try browsing on Physible Exchange or CubeHero for a different set of printable objects.

How do I make my own models?

It’s easier than you think. It used to be that CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs were built by engineers, for engineers, which left the rest of us rather out in the cold. But now there’s a range of software that’s both accessible and relatively easy to use, so if you know what you want to make you can go right ahead and start building.

For basic CAD designing, take a look at Sketchup, Autodesk’s 123D Design and Inventor Fusion – they’re all free programs, and take a similar approach. It takes a more dedicated approach to learn the free Blender software, and you need to be a competent mathematician to get your head around OpenSCAD, which is also free. Those with more artistic leanings get great results from Rhino, but at €995 it’s an expensive option – unless you’re a student, in which case you can get a generous discount. Another good solution is the online design program Tinkercad, which offers a very easy-to-understand CAD experience on a subscription basis.

You don’t even need a dedicated CAD program to start building models. The free Sketchup, formerly owned by Google but now published by Trimble Buildings, is at heart an architectural modeller but it has been effectively used for 3D printing as well. I have found that for me Sketchup works best and you can find tutorials online via YouTube.

If you have the Extended version of Photoshop CS6, you might be surprised that it can be used to create 3D models – even generating them from plain photographs. The human and animal figure modelling program Poser can also be used to create entire figures, as well as parts such as heads and hands. And if you don’t feel like splashing out for Poser, you can try the less powerful (but currently free) Daz Studio instead.

Can’t I just scan real objects and then print them?

Yes and no, but frankly, more no than yes. There are companies such as Go!SCAN 3D who make dedicated 3D scanning equipment, but it’s hard to use and models generally require a lot of cleaning up before they’re ready for printing. Also, the machines are expensive: typically cagey about pricing, like all such manufacturers, Go!SCAN will only reveal that their price is “about that of a compact car”.

An alternative is to use Autodesk’s 123D Catch technology, either by downloading the free iPhone and iPad app or by uploading photographs to their website. It’s an ingenious idea, but it’s hard to make it work successfully; scanned models typically contain a number of holes and other defects, and the software can have difficulty distinguishing an object from the surface it’s standing on, or from items in the background.

3D print-and-scan will come, we’re sure, but just now it’s not ready for prime time. Recently companies have been diving into 3D scanning and I’m expecting a lot of releases from companies like Printrbot. The route I personally took to start scanning 3D objects is with the use of Kinect from Xbox. You can find a lot of, “how to’s” online with a simple Google search.

How do I print models I’ve downloaded?

If you’ve downloaded models from Thingiverse or elsewhere, they’ll almost certainly be in STL format. This is the format that’s halfway to a printable file.

In order for your printer to deal with it, however, the file needs to be sliced – which means turning it into a layer-by-layer description of exactly what the printer is expected to print, complete with temperature, speed, and wall thickness controls. The result will be a G-Code file that can be sent straight to your printer.

There are several slicing programs to choose from, including the free applications ReplicatorG, Cura, KISSlicer, and the original slicer, Skeinforge – although these days it’s by far the least user-friendly solution, even though it’s the model the others are based on.

How do I print models I’ve made myself?

If you’ve used a ‘proper’ CAD program, it will be able to export printable STL files, so you can use any of the programs listed above to turn it into a G-Code file.

If you’ve used a 3D program that isn’t designed specifically for CAD, such as Photoshop, Poser, Daz Studio or the free version of Sketchup, then you’ll need another program to do two things: first, to examine the model and see if it’s genuinely printable. Usually, some fixing will be required – patching of holes, repairing of awkward vertices, and so on. The good news is that this will all be carried out automatically by the software. Second, you’ll need to convert the file from whatever format you managed to export it in (generally OBJ) into an STL file.

The free, open source Meshlab is a great starting point, which can patch models and generate STL files from them. Its 60-odd menu options offer a baffling array of choices, but you rarely need to look at them. Alternatively, check out the commercial program NetFabb, which can both repair models and generate G-Code files directly. The full version isn’t cheap, but there are cut-down versions customised for specific printer models that are more affordable.

Where do I buy the material?

The printing material, or filament, used to come in two varieties – PLA and ABS (click the links for explanations). Some printers can use both, some prefer one or the other. Now there has been an explosion of different types of filament. Everything from wood filament to conductive filaments that can be used to print circuits. If you’ve got an itch to try out different filaments, try makergeeks as they have a wide range of filaments at a good price. You can buy it either loose or on a reel from a variety of sources around the world; to save freight costs, it makes sense to purchase it locally. Try a Google search for either PLA filament or ABS filament, or check on Amazon – 3D printing has become so mainstream it’s even found its way onto the world’s most popular shopping site.

What next?

That’s up to you. Read through the features on this site and check back regularly as we are constantly updating posts as well as pages. In no time you will create something magnificent yourself – share it with the world!

Good luck and, above all, have fun with your new printer!

Here’s a neat little guide I found on the printrbot simple.
SOFTWARE AND CALIBRATION

For Windows Only:
1. Install the USB driver before you plug the printer’s USB into your computer. 

Link: http://printrbot.com/shop/printrboard-electronics/
Direct Link: http://pjrc.com/teensy/serial_install.exe

2. Install repetier’s host software on your machine. If the latest version gives you problem, download and install the previous version over it. You don’t have to uninstall the current version. Just install the one want you want over it. The settings for your printer, EEPROM, and slic3r will retain its value if you change versions, so you don’t have to worry about them.

Link: http://www.repetier.com/download/

3. Once that’s done, plug in the printer’s USB cable into your computer and start up repetier and hit connect. If it connects, go to the next step. If it doesn’t, make sure the USB cable is plugged in firmly and go to control panel if you have Windows pc. View by small icon at the top right corner. Look for device manager and under ports, make sure there’s usb port COM#. If you don’t see any port number or it’s not showing up, go to troubleshoot area below.

4. In repetier, go to the manual tab on the right side. See the blue bar? It should say “idle”. If it says “command waiting”, then your usb is either not plugged in or the computer could not find it. Try troubleshoot section below if this occur.

At this point you will see X Y Z arrows light up and becomes clickable. Let me explain:

The house image next to X Y and Z are called homing axis. If you have End Stops installed, then you can use them to set the starting position on your printer very easily. If you don’t, then you have to manually home them by eye. X means side to side. Y means back and forth. Z means up and down. Minus X moves the extruder (the red/hot nozzle) to the left. Plus X moves it to the right. Minus Y moves it towards the front or towards you. Plus Y moves it back or away from you. Minus Z moves it down. Plus Z moves it up. See this post for a picture of the orientation: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=3484The number associated with each bar is in millimeters of movement. You may try to move it to see if it connects now.

Below that is the Speed Multiply where feedrate means the speed at which the printer’s nozzle will move when printing your object. The higher the number the faster it moves to printer your layers, but the less accuracy it will produce. Lower speed means higher accuracy for the most part. This speed is associated with the speed in slic3r (a built in program of repetier’s that will make your object printable, explain later). I’m not sure what flowrate means how much the extruder spits out the plastic (also associated with slic3r). So if you aren’t getting enough or too much plastic coming out, you can try changing the slider here.

Below Speed Multiply is Extruder, Printbed (if you have a hot bed for ABS printing), and Fan (I recommend you getting a 40mm fan to help cool the plastic as it comes out the extruder -). **** Fan is not included with kit – updated 8/14/2013

Link to a good fan: http://www.amazon.com/40x10mm-Bearing-Premium-Cooling-NF-A4x10/dp/B009NQLT0M/ref=sr_1_6?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1374807397&sr=1-6&keywords=40mm+fan+pc

You can set the temperature of the extruder here as well as extrude and retract the amount of plastic you want. You can only extrude and extract when the nozzle is hot (175+ degrees). So heat it up and wait for it. Also move your Z axis up about 10 mm from the bed to give the filaments space to come out. 

You can try it now by inserting in the filaments between the drive gears and into the extruder. Then hit the extrude button. If you have a fan, you can plug it into the circuit board where it says fan at the top.

When you change settings, remember to click the ok button at the bottom to set it.

OKAY, LET’S SET UP YOUR PRINTER FIRST, THEN WE CALIBRATE

1. With Repetier software opened up click on Printer Settings in the far right, next to emergency stop. Under connection tab, set “Reset on Connect” to Disabled. This fixes a communication “handshake” setting that applies to some printers but not to Printrbots with the stock Marlin software. If you don’t have it Disabled, you may not be able to see the Firmware EEPROM settings or perform some other tasks. Close this window.

2. Next, go to the Repetier Config menu at the top and then EEPROM firmware settings. Take note of the XYZE steps per mm values. This is your CURRENT default value for each axis and extrude filament amount. Hit cancel.

3. Go here for the rest: http://printrbot.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Getting-Started-Guide-Simple-New.pdf

4. Click Apply and Ok to close.

SLIC3R
Slic3r is a program that turns your stl files into printing code that tells the printer how to print your objects.

1. Go to Slicer tab on the right. Click the first configure under slic3r.
2. If you hover your mouse over the input area, you will see an explanation of each setting. I’ll try to put them in simpler terms.

Layers and perimeters
– Layer is the surface area on which the printer prints.
– Layer height is how high you want your print layers to be. If you set it to 0.35 then the extruder will lift that much amount for every layer. A lower value means more accurate prints, but take a really longer time. Generally the layer height should be in the range of 65% to 80% of your nozzle diameter.
– Vertical shell perimeters is how many times it will go round the outside of your object. Higher is better, but takes more time and sometime risk smudging.
– Horizontal shell is how many layers to build as “solid” rather than “infill” at the bottom and top of your object. Higher is better, but takes more time.

Infill
– Infill is the region of print inside the hollow parts of an object.
– Fill density is how packed the fills will be. Higher means more tightly packed, where 0.1 is ten percent and 1.0 is completely filled (no voids).
– Fill pattern is the way it approaches the path to fill. Different pattern servers different purposes.
– You can learn more here: http://richrap.blogspot.com/2012/01/slic3r-is-nicer-part-1-settings-and.html

Speed
– Speed is how fast the printer prints
– Speed is very important to printing a successful object so test them out. Lower speeds for each part means better printed parts and higher sticking likability.
– Acceleration is how much movement in speed the the extruder will go during each associated part. Lower acceleration is better. Period. Higher will cause axis skewing on the Simple. 

Skirt and brim
– This sets up a small perimeter print around your object before/after it prints your object.
– Loop is how many times it will go around to print the perimeter.
– Skirt height is how high you want the perimeter to be.
– Brim: it can be described a couple of ways, one being: brim is like the rim on a cow-boy hat, or better, a Top-Hat.. it is a flat “ring” around the actual printed object, solidly connected to the base. the second way to describe a Brim, is that it is “just like” the Skirt loops that go around the initial layer on the Bed, but unlike the skirt which is separated from the actual printed object by a few millimeters of empty space, the Brim has NO separation, and is solidly connected to the base of the printed object. either way it is described, it’s purpose is to provide a larger surface area on the Bed for better initial filament sticking, and is discarded after removing the object from the bed at the completion of printing. this is especially helpful on very small surface-area (per initial layer) prints as it will dramatically increase that first layers sticking power and resistance to tipping over as the print height increases. 

Support is plastic structures that Slic3r adds to the design in order to support parts of your object that are not well supported by lower layers of the object. In other words, if you have an object that has a significant overhang, then when the extruder gets to that part of the object, the plastic it extrudes has nothing to land on; you will just get spaghetti on your bed far below. So Support adds thin vertical walls to give something for the plastic to land on. Unfortunately, you have to cut it away after the print is finished – but it’s supposed to be fairly easy to remove. It’s a necessity for some objects, but I (RetireeJay) try to design and orient my parts to minimize the need for support.

Don’t worry about output options, multiple extruder, advance yet. The default settings are fine and you’ll be a real expert before you ever need to change these.

3. Under the filament settings:

Filament
– Diameter is the width of your filament. Use a caliper to measure the width at several points and take the average.
– Temperature for the first layer should be 200 to make the first layer stick. Other layers are lower than that around 185 to 190. You’ll have to experiment with this number to get the right prints to stick and not break all over the place.

Cooling
– If you have a fan, cooling helps your extruded filaments from curling up too much as well as cools the current layer for the next layer to be applied. Set the fan speed to max is all you need to understand here or enable cooling. Also un-check the keep always for fan.

4. Under the printer settings:

General
– Bed size is the printable area of your bed. It should be 100mm x 100mm for the printrbot simple and 200mm x 200mm for the plus.
– Printer center is where you want your prints to print on the printable area. Always half of the printable area if you want it to be centered.

G-code
– Start G-code is the programmable code that initiates when you start the print.
– End G-code is what runs at the end.

Extruder
– Pretty self explainatory if you hover your mouse over each input area.

After every setting change in Slic3r, save your settings by clicking the blue diskette save image. It will let you rename your settings. Rename it to how they did it in the Getting Started Guide link you have viewed above.

HOMING AND CALIBRATING YOUR PRINTER, THE RIGHT WAY — YOU MUST HOME AND CALIBRATE YOUR PRINTERBEFORE YOU LEVEL YOUR BED

HOMING
1. Go to the Manual Control tab. You want to position your extruder to the front left side of the print board. The front is the closes side to you and the back is the furthest away.

2. Hit the Minus X arrow/house and move the extruder to the left all the way. Once there, hit the Minus/house Y moves it forward all the way. That is your X0 Y0 plane.

3. Next, if you have Z End Stop installed, make sure the tall z screw in the back of the printer is wind up a distance from the end stop. Hit the Minus Z ARROW slowly 1mm at time down towards the bed/board. DO NOT hit the House Z button yet. Once you get it close enough, hit the 0.1mm Minus Z until your hit the board. Once you hit the board, hit the 0.1mm Plus Z 3 times. That’s about the depth of a business card (0.25mm). This is your Z0 for now. 

4. Try sliding a business card under it. If it slides under with a bit of tug, then you’re good. If you have Z end stop installed, wind your screw in the back of your printer down to the end stop until you hear a click or depressed the stop button. Now click the House Z button and it should retract and move back to where it was. You can’t move down beyond that point anymore. But if you want to make it move down a bit, just unscrew the screw until you no longer depressed the z end stop and hit the Z house button again.

If you don’t have Z end stop installed, once you have the XYZ homed, you want to go to type this into the G-code input area below the blue bar: G92 X0 Y0 Z0 . Then hit Send. Finally, enter: M114 into the same input once it clears. Hit send. This basically tells the printer that your extruder is “homed”.

CALIBRATING XYZE
5. Now, you want calibrate your print area and motor rotation movement. To do this, you will need a caliper or ruler with mm and a calculator.

6. First, let’s calibrate your X axis motor. Move the extruder up a bit so it doesn’t touch and drag on the bed. Do this by hitting the 1mm plus z three or four times.

7. Take a pencil or piece of tape and make a mark right on the print bed right above the extruder. Take your ruler/caliper and measure 50mm across the horizontal of the print bed and put down another pencil/tape mark there.

8. From your homed X position, click on the 50mm Plus X button to move the extruder to the right towards the mark. When it stops, take your ruler and measure how far it has traveled. Take that number and entered it into the following equation:

(Current default axis value steps per mm X expected distance)/total distance travel = actual axis steps per mm

The current default axis value can be found in the EEPROM firmware of repetier which I mentioned above. So for example, my default X step value is 119 and the total distance the extruder travel is 47.5mm. Also in order to get into the EEPROM config in Repitier you must be connected to your Printrboard.

(119 X 50mm)/47.5mm = 125.26mm

To calibrate Y and Z, do the same thing, but in their respective axis.

To calibrate E: Go to page 4 of this link under software calibration:

http://printrbot.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Printrbot-Getting-Started-Guide2.pdf

Once you have all four actual numbers: Enter them into the EEPROM settings and hit save to EEPROM. Some people put this in their Start G-code as well for each axis, but RetireeJay recommends against it. The problem is that the configuration settings that you save in Slic3r contain this G-code. If you modify your configuration settings (for example to take account of a different filament) and save the settings, then you now have at least three independent copies of the Calibraion numbers: one in EEPROM, and one in each of your Slic3r configurations. Then if you need to change out the sandpaper on your motor and you need to re-calibrate, you will have to remember to change all three copies. Why bother? The EEPROM takes care of it once and for all. If you need to change it, you have only one place you need to go. 

Take notice of the acceleration value in the EEPROM setting. Changing this value will help with certain prints.

HOW TO LEVEL THE BED

Leveling the bed does not mean making it level with respect to gravity (with a spirit level). It means making sure the extruder maintains a consistent distance from the bed no matter what the X Y coordinate is. Because the extruder and motor at the front is a bit heavy, it causes the front part to droop downward a bit. If you look at the printer from the side with your extruder set all the way to the front Y axis (Minus Y), you’ll see the droop. So you need to make the bed/board slated toward the front and higher at the back to compensate for the droop. This is leveling the bed. If you need to get the front leveling screws to be shorter so it doesn’t touch the bottom of the printer, just saw/grind it off or find a shorter one at the hardware store.

There are a software and hardware fix to this drooping problem in the forum somewhere. Just search for y axis drooping in the forum and you’ll find it under the user member JohnSL.

Look under leveling the bed: http://printrbot.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Printrbot-Getting-Started-Guide2.pdf

Once you’re done leveling the bed. It’s time to print.

Repetier And Slice Explained (How To Setup Your Printer)

info on printrbot plus calibration.

z axis calibration :
NEMA 17 with standard pitch M5 threaded rod: (200 * 16) / 0.8 = 4000 // NEMA 17

•with standard pitch M8 threaded rod: (200 * 16) / 1.25 = 2560 // NEMA 17

•with SAE 5/16″ threaded rod. It has 18 threads per inch (25.4mm / 18): (200 * 16) / (25.4 / 18) = 2267.7165355

E steps Calibration

There are an increasingly wide variety of motors and extruder setups to choose from. “Wade” extruders use a NEMA motor to drive a large reduction gear that turns a “hobbed bolt.” Direct-drive extruders typically use a motor with a planetary gearbox to turn a drive gear, such as the popular MK7. Bowden setups can use either method to push the filament through a tube to the hot end. There are others, such as worm drives, but we won’t get into those here.

Calculate

For a typical Wade extruder, the hobbed bolt will be made from an M8 bolt, and its “effective diameter” will be around 7mm. The direct-drive MK7 gear is specified as having an effective diameter of 10.56mm. These are just starting points to get close to the correct value, and then you’ll measure and calibrate to get the exact value later.

The standard formula is:

e_steps_per_mm = (motor_steps_per_rev * driver_microstep) * (big_gear_teeth / small_gear_teeth) / (hob_effective_diameter * pi)

Some typical examples:

// Classic Wade with a 39:11 gear ratio (200 * 16) * (39 / 11) / (7 * 3.14159) = 515.91048 // Gregstruder with a 51:11 gear ratio (200 * 16) * (51 / 11) / (7 * 3.14159) = 674.65217 // Gregstruder with a 43:10 gear ratio (200 * 16) * (43 / 10) / (7 * 3.14159) = 625.70681 // MK7 Direct Drive with 2engineers 50:1 planetary gear motor (48 * 16) * (50 / 1) / (10.56 * 3.14159) = 1157.49147 Measure

Required tools: vernier caliper with depth gauge, or similar tool that can precisely measure 100mm. Your hob effective diameter is unlikely to be exactly 7mm.

Remove the hot-end from extruder so you don’t waste filament.Feed in some filament.Using the extruder body as a reference point, mark the filament at 120mm.Tell the printer to feed 100mm of filament.Measure the distance from the extruder body to the mark you made. It will be over 20mm if it moved too little, under if it moved too far.new_e_steps = old_e_steps * (100 / distance_actually_moved) … or, old_e_steps * (100 / (distance_to_mark + 80))Set this value in your firmware. You may need to re-flash your board. Sprinter/Marlin supports M92 Ennn to set this value temporarily.Repeat from Step 3 until you get between 96-104mm. Then continue with this guide. You’ll dial it in perfectly later on. There’s a further refinement to this value below. Why? The back-pressure from the hot-end alters how much plastic each hob revolution pushes, and you’ll probably end up tightening your idler more which reduces the hob effective diameter.Re-attach hot end.Z height

At Z=0, you should be able to have a single piece of paper between your nozzle and the bed, and move it with a little “grabbing” but not quite enough to bend the paper when you push it. This is a simple, quick and effective test to use when levelling your bed. This small gap almost perfectly compensates for thermal expansion, which causes your hot-end to actually get longer as it heats up!

Rather than tuning your endstop endlessly, you could simply make a macro that homes Z using the endstop then sends G92 Z-nnn where -nnn is the negative position of your endstop. Your endstop must of course be below Z=0 for this to work. (Not too much, or you may damage the nozzle and/or print-bed!) Ideally in this setup your endstop would be set so that the (cold) nozzle just touches the bed, and then you’d send G92 Z=-0.1 (or your measured thermal expansion). Note that most slicing software adds a HOME command followed by G92 Z0 to the starting G-Code, so you will also need to tune your slicing settings to make sure your G-Code homes to Z-nnn. There are now many adjustable Z-endstops available for download, and these can be real time-savers.

When your Z=0 point is set correctly, your bottom layer will be slightly fatter than layers on top, but not extremely so. Most slicing software is set up by default to extrude a little extra material in the first layer, and you can tune this to get the perfect extrusion for your first layer, as well. (See below.)

Bed adhesion is strongly related to the Z=0 point. If you’re not getting enough adhesion, print slower with a lower Z=0 point so the first layer is squished more. If you’re getting too much adhesion, raise the Z=0 point a little so the first layer isn’t quite so squished.

Find the appropriate Z=0 point.Send G92 Z0.Prepare printer for printing- warm up bed, load filament, etc.Slicer settingsLayer height, Extrusion width

These are simple to visualise. When your extruder draws a line of plastic, that line has a height and width. You get to choose these values.

Best results are obtained when layer height = nozzle diameter.

Eg; with an 0.35 nozzle, your  layer height is 0.35*0.8=  and your extrusion width should be 0.4mm or greater. with an 0.5mm nozzle, your layer height can be up to 0.4mm, and an 0.25mm nozzle will give you 0.2mm max layer height.

. The slicing software automatically calculates the appropriate volume to extrude based on the settings you choose.  – it is limited by your ability to keep flow consistent at very low flowrates. Some reprappers have printed layers as small as 5 micron – 0.005mm!

Personally I go for layer height of 0.2mm, and extrusion width of 0.5mm regardless of which nozzle I’m using.

Slic3r automatically chooses an extrusion width for you based on your nozzle diameter. If you’re determined to choose, you can use theextrusion width advanced setting. It is frequently advantageous to choose as models may have walls of a particular width, and by choosing you can ensure they are entirely filled with perimeter with no gap in the middle and no infill.

Nozzle Temperature

Each type of plastic, and each colourant for each type of plastic alters the ideal printing temperature. E.g., I can print opaque PLA at 165°C with fantastic results, but my translucent PLA prefers 180°C!

Every machine will have different numbers due to differences in thermistor, and how close to barrel temperature your thermistor is actually sensing.

Here’s how I find my optimum temperature for each roll of filament that I have:

Choose a fairly simple model that’s large enough that you can clearly see the infill while it’s printingMake sure your hobbed bolt’s teeth are clean of debris such as chunks of plasticMake sure your idler is tight! really tight! “it hurts my fingers to pull on it and I still can’t move it” tight! A too-loose idler givesexactly the same symptoms as too low temperature.Start printingLower temperature by 5° every 2-3 layersWhen infill starts being a row of dots instead of a line, increase temperature by 10°.Keep monitoring print, increase by 5° if your infill goes dotty again If you find that your prints are weak along the layer lines or even delaminate mid-print, you may need to go higher again. With ABS, wrapping your printer in a towel helps a LOT by keeping out draughts and breezes- but beware any PLA parts caught within!Store or remember that temperature for that type of filamentBed Temperature

Bed adhesion is critically important for quality prints. With the right amount of bed adhesion, your parts will:

stick to the bednot curl or warpnot exhibit ‘hourglass’ warping, anddetach by themselves when the bed is cool.

This procedure helps attain 1 through 3 by finding the correct bed surface temperature. 4 is obtained by experimenting with various bed coatings such as PVA wood glue (best for PLA), UHU Glue (for nylon), automotive window tint, hairspray, ABS juice, sugar water(ABS), etc.

Pick a starting temperature. a little too high is better than too low for this test. Suggestions: 110°C for ABS, 65°C for PLA.Start a print. If your first layer gets poor adhesion, increase by 3-5° and start again.At layer 2, send M104 S0 so your nozzle heater turns off. .At layer 3, pause the print and move the nozzle away from it. .Prepare/consume a while you wait for bed surface temperature to reach thermal equilibrium. This should take 10 minutes at most, generally 5 minutes is plenty.Remove the print from your bed. If it is soft or stretchy, your bed temperature is too high. Reduce by 5° and start again. It should behave almost the same as when it is cold.When your bed temperature is correct, your part will have hardened while you consumed and if you set your bed temperature 5° higher it will remain soft.

You should generally print your first layer with the bed about 10° hotter than the regular layers’ temperature, to ensure that the plastic is very sticky and gets a good grip.

For reference, the SURFACE temperature of your bed (NOT the temperature measured by your sensor) should be around 105°C for ABS, and around 57°C for PLA.

Your thermistor  sense a higher temperature than the surface – a gradient of several degrees forms across your glass. muck with thermistor tables or move your thermistor to the surface. You  it close to the heater so it can respond quickly and give a short feedback loop. Just find whatever number gets the surface to the right temperature, and stick with it!

After performing this procedure, if your prints warp off the bed mid-print at ends or corners, try adding a brim (Slic3r/Cura setting) and experimenting with various bed coatings. PVA wood glue diluted very thinly in water is excellent for PLA, and certain brands of hairspray are reportedly excellent with ABS.

E Steps Fine Tuning

Now, with everything very close to ideal values, we can finally dial E steps in that final little bit!

Find an object with flat tops on a number of levels, such as this cube stack testSlice at 95% rectilinear infill. Use the lowest layer height you’re comfortable with – the lower the layer height used for this test, the finer your resulting E steps calibration will be. I use 0.2mm for first run, and if I’m feeling ambitious I’ll repeat this process at 0.1mm.Print.Ignore the first 5-6 layers because they’re too sensitive to the exact height of the first layer. If it’s obviously over-filling or under-filling, alter E steps or Z=0 point and restart the print.Observe infill. If you  see tiny little gaps between the lines,  E steps by 0.5% every 2 layers until you can see tiny gaps.Observe solid top layers. If you  see tiny gaps,  E steps by 0.5% every 2 layers until there’s no gaps in the top.Send the new E steps to your printer with M92 Ennn without even pausing the print – you will see the result in a couple of layers when the change is this small.Goto 5 until the infill has tiny gaps  the solid top layers do not.Finish

 print your favourite calibration piece (e.g., ultimate calibration) and see how it measures!

Optional: Switch to volumetric E units

It seems silly to me to have to reskein if you change filament diameter (i.e., when switching colours – or printers!). Follow these instructions if you want to use mm^3 units for E instead of mm.

Record the filament diameter setting you’ve been using in your slicer.Calculate (filament_diameter / 2) ^ 2 * PI. For filament_diameter = 3.0mm, this is almost exactly 7. For 1.75mm filament, it’s almost exactly 2.4.Change your filament diameter in your slicer to 2*sqrt(1 / pi) = 1.128379Divide your E_steps by the number from Step 2.Multiply all your E-related speeds and accelerations (esp. maximums in firmware config!), and retract distance by the value from Step 2.Repeat E steps calibration above. Your first print should be extremely close.

Now you can reuse the same gcode over and over again, and simply alter E steps with M92 when you change filament, or use the same gcode on another printer.

Rationale

We currently have 3 tunables affecting one measurable – extrusion multiplier, filament diameter and E steps all affect the amount of plastic extruded.

Filament diameter does not change significantly – it should not change mid-print, and only changes by a small amount when switching from one roll of filament to another.

It should be possible to set two of these tunables to fixed values, and alter only the 3rd when necessary.

It is sensible to choose the tunable which is easiest to alter – this is E steps which can be altered at any time (even mid-print) by sending M92 Ennn.

The slicer calculates the volume of filament to extrude for each line segment. Then, it takes this volume and divides it by (filament_diameter / 2) ^ 2 * PI to find the distance of filament to extrude.

SO if we alter our filament diameter such that (filament_diameter / 2)^2 * PI == 1.0, then the E words in our gcode will be in units of mm^3.

Since our new unit is 7x bigger (area of a 3mm diameter circle is ~7mm^2, so 1mm(length) becomes 7mm^3(volume), for 1.75mm filament the factor is 2.4x), we have to adjust our retraction distance, and E steps and acceleration to suit the new units.

Slicer Settings Explained:
Let’s start with Layers and Perimeters. This is where you set the layer heights and the vertical and horizontal shells. For layer height, go ahead and set it to whatever height you like; .1mm is considered fine and .3mm is considered rough, so a number between .15mm and .2mm is a good compromise between speed and print quality. It’s a good idea to set your first layer height to around .3mm even if your part has a finer resolution than that. Doing this will help the first layer go down properly, which helps limit any print failures in the first layer.

The next setting to configure is Infill. Here you choose the percent that the solid regions of your object are filled in. I usually choose something between 10% and 15%. Using less infill can greatly reduce the print time, material consumption, and weight of your objects. There are a few options to choose from when it comes to fill patterns. I’ve found that honeycomb tends to be the strongest. Since the toolpaths of rectilinear are more optimized, rectilinear is a good cross between print time and strength.

Once the infill is set, it’s time to move on to speed. Printers can print anywhere from 1mm/s to over 400mm/s. Generally, as the speed goes up, the quality goes down. I typically print at 60mm/s to 120mm/s. In this screenshot, the printer is set to 60mm/s travel and a variety of other speeds for when it’s printing. I would multiply all of these settings by a constant scalar if you choose to increase the print speed. These speeds vary because some parts are tougher to print than others and these areas need to cool more before they can support more material.

The next setting is Skirt and Brim, where you can choose how much filament is extruded to prime the nozzle. The default setting should be 2 loops 6mm away from the object. I’ve found that this works well for priming the extruder for both large and small prints. If you have this set and notice that it’s not fully priming the extruder, either the number of loops or the distance from the object can be increased. Either of these increases will push more filament through to the prime the nozzle more. One thing you should keep in mind when changing the distance from the object is that as the distance increases, you become more able to approximate if the bed is level before it starts the print. The downside is that as the distance from the object increases, the print gets closer to the maximum build area, and if you’re already close to one or more edges, the printer is more likely to crash or print off the bed.

Filament Settings :
The filament settings can be found in the slicer settings under the Filament Setting tab, to the right of Print Settings. Configuring these is relatively simple. First input the filament diameter, which can be found on the filament spool — it’s usually 1.75mm or 3.00mm.

The extrusion multiplier should be 1, unless you’re compensating for under- or over-extrusion.

The temperature depends on the filament type: PLA ranges from roughly 200°C–230°C, and ABS ranges from roughly 230°C–260°C. It’s a good idea to start on the low end and work your way up. If the filament doesn’t stick to the bed, the heat should probably be turned up. If the filament is coming out like soup, it should be turned down. To help adhere to the bed, it’s a good idea to set the first layer 5°C to 10°C higher than the rest.Heating the bed can help with PLA adhesion, but it’s only required when printing with ABS. The perfect temperature for printing with ABS is around 110°C, but unfortunately it can take a long time for the bed to reach this temperature. Depending on the printer, the bed can be set to slightly lower temperatures. A sign that that bed temperature is too low is that the prints start to peel off the bed while they’re being printed.

Scaling STL Prints In Repitier :

To add an STL file to Repetier, click on the Object Placement tab, then click Add STL File. The object should drop down onto the platform.To change the size of the object, type a scale factor into the box to the right of Scale (see screenshot). By default this scales the x, y, and z axes by the same amount. If you wish to scale each axis differently, uncheck Lock Aspect Ratio.You can rotate the object by adjusting the x, y, and z values next to Translation.

Printing With Repitier
Once the printer is connected and the slicer is configured, it’s time to slice and print your object.

NOTE: Some Windows versions of Repetier have a bug in the software that prevents the printer from printing. If you’re having trouble connecting, try clicking Manual Control then OK in the bottom right next to Debug Options.Slicing must be done before printing. To slice an object, click Slicer, then click Slice with Slic3r.Once the slicing is complete, you can click Run to start your print, or SD Card to start an untethered print. As of now, the SD card option is somewhat buggy, but works most of the time.

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