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Self Serve 3D Printing DIY

Quick start to 3D printing at Digital Media Commons and TFDL MakerSpace

What is 3D Printing?

This process layers heated plastic material according to the desired shape of the digital model. The molten material hardens immediately once extruded from the moving nozzle.

FFF Process

3D printing FAQ

What printers do we have at TFDL MakerSpace?

  • Our FlashForge and Makerbot printers create 3D objects from the solid models in digital file.

What printing materials are available?

  •    PLA 

What are the maximum dimensions I can print?

  • FlashForge Creator Pro:  225 x 145 x 150 mm 
  • Makerbot Replicator 2: 285 x 153 x 155 mm

What are the minimum dimensions I can print?

  • Limited by layer Thickness: 0.1 - 0.3mm (Adjustable in Simplify3D)
  • Thin walls are limited by nozzle diameter, which is 0.4mm for the Makerbot and Creator Pro

When to choose 3D printing?

  • Fast prototyping and visioning of 3D models
  • Organic detailed models
  • Geometric functional prototypes
  • Anything that is too complex to CNC 

What causes failed prints?

  • Non-watertight objects
  • Flipped faces
  • Super thin walls
  • Tall thin vertical objects might not print well  
  • Very small area of contact with the printing bed (non-flat bottom)
  • Too high/low printing temperature

How long will my print job take?

  • Depending on layer resolution may take over 24 hours. However, printing in MakerSpace is limited to DMM's working hours

What files will the MakerSpace printers accept?

*.x3g

Printing for the First Time?

3D Printing Step by Step

Follow these steps and don't forget to do the checks!

File prep and slicing tips

  • What is the recommended filament temperature? Check with manufacturer. If there is no info, try 215-225 degrees. Do not go over 230 with PLA!
  • Do you need a raft? Rafts help with removing the object from the 3D printer bed.
  • Do you need support? support material helps with overhanging parts and makes the printing more stable. Flat bottom objects may not need a raft, but become harder to remove.

File Prep Step by Step

  1. In Simplify3D import your model in a new empty scene.

  2. Select your process and click on the Edit Process Settings button.

  3. Select your desired 3D printer profile Makerbot Replicator 2 or FlashForge Creator Pro.

  4. Select PLA material, your desired print quality (high=slowest), and infill. Indicate if your model requires a raft and/or support material.

  5. Check for printing temperatures, default set at 230C. Set your recommended temperature by clicking Show Advanced and select Temperature tab.

  6. Edit the required temperature by double clicking the setpoint temperature:

     
    Tip:
    You can set different temperatures for different layers. Having the 1st layer print at 230 may improve adhesion, and printing subsequent layers at lower temperatures may increase printing quality for small parts. Just add a new setpoint at your desired layer height.

  7. Click OK and Prepare to Print buttons. Then save  your toolpaths to Disk. When you save the .gcode file, Simplify3D automatically saves .x3g file you need for printing 
    Tip:
      Makerbot only supports FAT system so the memory card had to be formatted to FAT system first. FAT only supports 2 GB memory.

Printing sliced model

  1. Is the printer on?  Turn on power;)
  2. Is the print bed clean? Previous prints removed? Painters tape replaced (Makerbot only)?
  3. Check bed leveling and level the print bed before loading filament. You can do this by selecting bed leveling option in the 3D printer menu. Some printers ask you to move the extruder manually, and some automatically move to specific points.
    Tip: 
    Be gentle when moving the parts and loading filament.
  4. Load your filament, follow the printer directions on LCD screen. 
  5. Select print from SD in LCD menu and choose your .x3g file.  
    Tip: Wait for around 30% of your print time because this is when most print jobs fail.

Resources - Just Starting Out

 

To start out you will need 1) to make a model and 2) to convert it into 3D printer instructions:

MAKING A MODEL: Any CAD software that produces watertight models will work (no holes, no flipped surfaces). Check out Autodesk free student products, FreeCAD, TinkerCAD, and Sculpris. For 3D scanning try Recap360.

3D PRINTER INSTRUCTIONS: To convert a digital model to a set of instructions for the 3D printer a software package such as Simplify3D slices geometry into individual layers, the traveling path of the extruder nozzle. Understanding 3D printing software (known as slicer) is responsible for 90% of the quality of your print. 

 

File Repair Tools For Successful Prints

Netfabb Online Service to repair 3D model files in web browser, good for beginners.

Autodesk Mudbox has simple retopology tools that repair and optimize meshes, great for artists.

Autodesk Netfabb (desktop version) optimizes, validates and produces models using additive manufacturing processes.

MeshLab is a powerful piece of software to analyze, optimize and repair models. Suitable for advanced users.

FlashForge Creator Pro Specification

Acceptable Filament: 1.75mm PLA and other non-toxic materials available for purchase through Digital Media Commons

Printing temperatures: indicated by manufacturer, around 210-230

Build Dimensions: 225 x 145 x 150 mm

Layer Thickness: 0.1 - 0.3mm (Adjustable in Simplify3D)

Number of Extruders: 2

Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm

Build Plate: Sturdy aluminum, heated 

Firmware: Replicator G - Sailfish

Printing file format: *.x3g

Connectivity: directly from Simplify3D over USB, or from SD card

Support: http://www.flashforge-usa.com

Documentation: http://libguides.ucalgary.ca/ld.php?content_id=34035584

Makerbot Replicator 2 Specification

Acceptable Filament: 1.75mm PLA and other non-toxic materials available for purchase through Digital Media Commons

Printing temperatures: indicated by manufacturer, around 210-230

Build Dimensions: 285 x 153 x 155 mm

Layer Thickness: 0.1 - 0.3mm (Adjustable in Simplify3D)

Number of Extruders: 1

Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm

Build Plate: Acrylic, non-heated, requires painters tape for PLA 

Firmware: MakerWare

Printing file format: *.x3g

Connectivity: directly from Simplify3D over USB, or from SD card

Support: https://support.makerbot.com/learn/

Documentation: http://libguides.ucalgary.ca/ld.php?content_id=34035594

Simplify3D SlicerSoftware

https://www.simplify3d.com/

  • A great slicer software, such as Simplify3D, works with different 3D printing hardware. It quickly switches between machine configurations and you only have to learn one piece of software.
  • Simplify3D allows you to modify the size and orientation of your model, create multiples, set up duplicate printing (for dual nozzle machines), generate support material for hanging parts, and graphically simulate the printing process.
  • In addition to preparing the tool paths for the 3D printer to understand it provides a simulation of the exact machine actions. It shows the potential problems of the model, such as missing and flipped surfaces that cause failed prints.
  • For more advanced users Simplify3D provides scripting features and mesh repair tools (useful for filling missing surfaces), and mesh optimization tools (for reducing printing and processing times).

 

Simplify 3D Specifications

https://www.simplify3d.com

  • Input model format: *.stl, *.obj
  • Output file format: *.gcode, *.x3g
  • Connectivity: One 3D printer at a time with USB
  • Support: https://www.simplify3d.com/support/
  • Documentation: http://libguides.ucalgary.ca/ld.php?content_id=34035597
  • Community: https://forum.simplify3d.com/

Useful Documentation