Getting Started in 3d Printing

Thinking about getting started in 3d printing? This is a rough list of things to consider when getting into 3d printing. Read through it, and make sure you have everything you need, and that you have a basic idea of what each process will look like.

Tools

In addition to all of the normal tools that you'll need like allen wrenches and screwdrivers, there are a few small tools that you will keep near your printer for everyday printing.

  • Flat Razor Blade for cleaning the build surface and removing prints (Amazon Prime)
  • X-Acto Knife for scraping filament away from the nozzle when you start a print (Amazon Prime)
  • Tweezers for cleaning the nozzle while it is warm (most grocery stores) 

Supplies

3d printing requires filament, and a couple of other consumable supplies. You won't need much... one of each should last a very long time.

  • 70-99 Percent Isopropyl Alcohol and paper towels for cleaning heated bed glass surfaces (most grocery stores)
  • 2" Wide Tape for printing on without a heated bed ...also available in square singles

Before Every Print (heated bed with glass, PLA)

  1. Pre-heat the heated bed to 60 degrees celsius, and preheat the extruder to 160 degrees celsius. Let stand for 5 minutes before attempting to calibrate or print. Some heat expansion occurs, which tightens tolerances. Everything on the printer should be calibrated for when the printer is warm.
  2. Turn your STL model into Gcode with Cura or Slic3r.
  3. Level the bed. A full guide for the Printrbot Simple (model 1401) that applies to most manually-leveled printers is located here.
  4. Clean the nozzle with tweezers.
  5. Clean the glass with isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel. On a small amount of alcohol on the paper towel is needed.
  6. Send the Gcode to your printer to start the print.

Before Every Print (non-heated bed with tape, PLA)

  1. Pre-heat the extruder to 160 degrees celsius. Some heat expansion occurs, which tightens tolerances. Everything on the printer should be calibrated for when the printer is warm.
  2. Turn your STL model into Gcode with Cura or Slic3r.
  3. Level the bed. A full guide for the Printrbot Simple (model 1401) that applies to most manually-leveled printers is located here. If your printer has an auto-leveling system, you won't need to worry about this.
  4. Clean the nozzle with tweezers.
  5. If you haven't printed in a few days, or if you are fighting first-layer adherence problems, quickly wipe down the tape with isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel. On a small amount of alcohol on the paper towel is needed. This makes prints stick to the tape amazingly well, so expect to really struggle to get large parts off.
  6. Send the Gcode to your printer to start the print.

Regular Maintenance

  1. Tighten belts. Not break-your-printer tight, but very tight.
  2. Lubricate smooth rod and Z leadscrews with a silicone lubricant (Amazon Prime and Lowe's). Only a small amount is needed. Be careful not to use too much and soak wooden parts on your printer.

Common Upgrades

  • Fan. This can work wonders for your prints by cooling the plastic as soon as it has been extruded. 
  • GT2 belts and pulleys.

 

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1 Comments

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    Bart Hickman

    I see glass is mentioned above.  Has anyone tried adding glass to the printrbot simple?  Does the distance sensor work with a layer of glass over the heated bed?

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