Hardware/FDM Printing Proficiently Part 3!
Updated: Feb 14, 2021
Written By: Raymond Tsui
Choosing your slicer and setting things up
Please read Part 1 and Part 2 of the guide before inspecting this. Now, with your shiny brand-new printer all set up and ready along with a fresh spool of filament, go ahead and press the power button and hope it doesn’t blow up...
...kidding. It does happen, though. Please exercise maximum caution while handling a 3D printer.
After you’ve set up the printer, it’s time to download some software. First, you would need to install one or more of these slicers (links attached below). Slicers are software that assist in converting STL files into GCODE, the file format that 3D printers read.
Repetier-Host (technically not a slicer)
Simplify3D (Paid but is an amazing slicer):
If you are willing to sacrifice a few bucks in exchange for top-of-the-line software, go for Simplify3D. However, if you prefer to use free software while still having excellent slicing experience, go for Ultimaker Cura (Cura). I will guide you through the steps for Ultimaker Cura.
Once you’ve installed and ran the software, it will guide you through the steps on setting up your printer’s profile and user preferences. However, if your printer doesn’t show up on the printer list during setup (in Cura), you might need to go surf on the web for a suitable printer profile. The Artillery brand printers have this issue where it is too “new” to be added into the printer setup list. Go ahead and retrieve the profiles on the web, find the slicer system file, then drag and drop the profile into the respective folder.
(Screenshot taken in Ultimaker Cura. Dark mode is turned on, light mode is on by default)
Once your user interface looks like this, you’re all set! If you set up your printer’s profile correctly, every setting should be correctly tuned to the printer’s specifications. You might even have a 3D visual representation of the printer itself in the UI too. Fiddle around with the settings to your liking, and upload your first part into the slicer!
Many people simply get their files from hosting services such as Thingiverse and GrabCAD, however some people prefer to design their own parts from scratch. If you want to do that, you need to have some sort of CAD software, such as Onshape, to help you in designing the part. CAD in itself is too much to talk about in this 3-part series of printing basics, so there will be another series on how to CAD.
Once you’ve grabbed the part you want, go ahead and port it into your slicer. Adjust some more settings, put some supports (if there is an area of a part where its overhand exceeds ~50 degrees). Click slice and download your GCODE result to a USB stick or a microUSB. Plug it into the printer and you’re all set!
I HIGHLY recommend printing a 3DBenchy, a printer benchmark for tuning the printer. It is a useful tool in helping troubleshoot your parts.
There are plenty of benchmark prints out there on the web, so feel free to find one that fits what you are trying to test.
So this marks the end of this series, right? Is my printer all set? Can I conquer the world now?
Not quite. You see, this article is just for teaching the basics of how to print. If you would like to learn more information, check out this link here:
This is an article to jumpstart your dive into the world of FDM printing! I hope you learned something new by reading this mini-series and I wish you a safe printing journey! If you have any questions, we’re available to assist you on FDM printing on every step of your journey. Contact us via the contact form of the lukupp website!