- Oct 08, 2016
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THE 3D PRINTING CYCLE
A general guide from setting up printer (manufacturer's settings) -> 3D file -> 3D slicer -> actual printing
Let us imagine that you have bought a new 3d printer; now you want to test it. Firstly, there is a procedure which should be followed when using a 3d printer for the first time to get the optimal results. As rushing into testing the printer without knowing the right and optimal setting, it may cause to a failure print. In this article, we discuss the procedure you should follow to finish your first 3d print correctly.
Start by unpacking your printer and check to see if you have received all the parts illustrated in the manual (for both assembled and non-assembled 3D printers). Next, gather all the components together and follow the instruction manual for the assembling procedures. When the process is complete, you can download the 3d printer software and follow the following procedures.
1. Leveling your printing bed:
The purpose of this is to make sure that your bed is at equal distance from your nozzle at all points. Once the leveling is confirmed okay, you will have a good start for 3D printing. There are two techniques of leveling the bed depending on the 3D printer you have.
A. Active leveling:
Some 3D printing comes with an automatic leveling technique, the bed level can be adjusted automatically, and the 3D printer has some proximity sensors to measure the distance between the nozzle and the bed. You need to run the software and choose active or automatic leveling (if available) and then let the 3D printer compensate any inaccuracies of the bed level. However, please keep in mind that you must not touch the bed while the automatic leveling is in process as it can affect the alignment. Now, your 3D printer bed is leveled.
B. Manual leveling (only a general guide as every printer varies):
This is the common technique available among 3D printers. Even the individuals who build their 3D printers use this method. At first, you need to log into the 3D printer software and raise your bed until the distance to the nozzle is about 2mm in between. Later, bring the print head to the 4 locations starting by the corners on the bed. And at each location, use a calibration gauge (a very thin metal strip or prefer the thickness of a single A4 sheet) and put it between the bed and the nozzle. Then use the base screws (tighten) to raise the bed till you feel the average resistive force when you try to pull the calibration gauge. If it is hard to pull the gauge, then loosen the screws just to be able to pull it. Repeat this step for the rest of the corners to achieve the optimal leveling. Hereafter, we do the same step to two non-corner locations. Please keep in mind that while you are adjusting at one corner, it may affect the others. Thus, it is essential that the leveling steps to be repeated three times (corner after corner) to make sure the machine is properly calibrated.
2. Loading and Extruding Filament:
When the calibration process is complete, and your heat bed is ready to start printing, you need to load the filament into the extruder (follow your printer's manual steps on how to insert and reach the filament to the extruder). Then you will extrude filament from the extruder. Start by heating the nozzle up to the specific temperature required for the type of filament you have. Then, activate the extruder until you see the filament coming out of the nozzle and reaching to the bed. Finally, wait for the extruded plastic on the bed to cool down and remove it.
3. Get a 3D Printable Design:
This is a very easy step, you can find examples of 3D designs in the printer software. You can also Google the internet to find free design files, or you can make your own designs using 3D modeling software.
4. Slicing the 3D File:
The 3D designs we get, we can see it as a 3D object as our brain had the ability to combine photos from our eyes to get the 3D view. However, the 3D printer does not see 3D objects on its own, and we cannot just provide a 3D model for the printer to build straightway without some kind of data the printer needs to comprehend. Thus, we must translate it into a form which can be understood by the 3D printer. This process is called slicing; slicing is the process of transforming a 3D model into many layers that can be read by the 3D printer. To make it clearer, any model designed by a 3D modeling software comes in STL form, but the 3D printer understands a particular code known as the G-code which contains coordinates and other information for the printer to do its printing performance of a 3D object.
I. Extrusion speed.
II. Head speed
III. Adjusting nozzle and bed temperature.
IV. Turning fan on or off.
V. Adjusting and determine layer’s thickness.
VI. Fill patterns if there are any.
Now, we can know that the slicer software acts as a management system for the printing process. There are many software programs which perform the operation of slicing such as 3DPrinterOS, Astroprint, Craftware, Cura, and others. When you purchase a 3D printer, it will come with software provided by the manufacturer.
Start 3D Printing
5. Start building process:
Now we can start building an object to test the 3D printer. However, there are some instructions should be followed to get your product made properly such as cleaning the bed, watching carefully for the first layer print by making sure it adheres to the bed. Also, paying close attention during the building process is of vital importance as if anything wrong happens, you can stop the 3D printer and save the situation.
We have now discussed on how to get your 3D printer working for the first time. Commonly, all the required knowledge to use your 3D printer will be provided by the manufacturer, and you should follow the instructions carefully for a successfully printing experience.
Source: BotFeeder, 3DPrint.com