Hello everyone, this is my first Instructable, let me know if you have suggestions for making it better and for future Instructables. This is my ground up 3D printer. I have been researching 3D printers for a while and nearly bought a RepRap Prusa i3 kit from eBay but finally made the call to build one from scratch. I felt that this approach would teach me the most and also provide me with the best quality printer for the money. It may be a better decision to buy a cheaper kit because they will have better support and instructions overall. Additionally, once you have a cheaper kit working you can print additional parts to make a bigger and/or better printer. I do feel I have mostly quality parts that will ultimately make a much better printer than I would have gotten for the same price buying either a kit or a complete printer.
The goal for this Instructable is to help you design your own printer. I won't necessarily walk you through every single cut and drill hole. I made several design changes on the fly due to the limits of my tools, materials, or mistakes. I hope to help you realize that, with patience, perseverance and research, you can also do something like this. This is the first thing like this I have ever built. It took about 4 months of research and building in my spare time.
On Price... This is not a cheap build. I am probably close to $800 at this point. There were a few points where bad research led me to buy the wrong part but overall, those were all cheap mistakes so wouldn't have saved too much any way. The biggest areas where you could save money on this design is in the hot end and the controller. I will discuss that a bit more in the Parts section.
Design Philosophy... I know that's a bit pretentious for a section title but this is what I was thinking when I designed it. I wanted a sturdy printer with a 12 inch or 305mm cube build area. I had originally wanted to do Core XY drive system and had it working but couldn't get tension and friction imbalances to work out so went back to a cartesian design. I picked the hot end so I could print any available material. I also want to upgrade to a second extruder at some point. Another as of yet undone goal is to have a completely enclose build area. Finally, I wanted it to look nice.
The Name... Kaliope is an alternative spelling of Calliope a mythological muse. I thought it was appropriate because having a democratizing method of production in my garage would help me come up with new design ideas.
Why MK1... Because I am still learning about the process. I plan to make many more upgrades as I can print new parts and make design refinements. I will hopefully post the updates and future versions on here as well.
Step 1: Parts List
I bought all of these parts wile trying to balance my design goals and budget. Some parts turned out to be lower quality than I would have liked and some didn't quite meet a goal I had set but the next step up would have been considerable more expensive.
Frame: 12mm plywood, full sheet. I had originally planed to use aluminum T-slot extrusions but wasn't 100% sure on some of the design choices. I chose plywood because it allows me the flexibility to change the design as I go. With the changes I had to make, I would have wasted probably close to $100 in aluminum. With plywood, I was able to change dimensions and mounting positions as I went with no extra expense. I didn't want to spend the $150 plus for the extrusions till I had a solid understanding of the design. These will probably be a later upgrade, maybe Mk5.
Hot End: E3Dv6 1.75mm. I picked the E3D V6 because of its quality construction and ability to handle almost all materials available to print. With a heater and thermistor replacement you can go much hotter and print materials like nylon. I would probably go with 3mm now just for a higher flow rate potential. I may just get a 3mm one with the volcano kit for some speed building later on. additional, the 1.75mm has an internal PTFE tube on the cold side of the heat break that isn't present in the 3mm version. This shouldn't cause ant problems with proper cooling but it is something to consider.
Controller: Smoothieboard 5X. I picked this for the 5 onboard motor drivers, 32 bit processor, great wiki, and support community. I honestly have really enjoyed using this board and software. There have been a few hiccups along the way, but the community has been helpful with every issue. The motor drivers are max 2A so just make sure that meets your requirements and the motors you purchase. There are other cheeper options. The RAMPS setup is the most supported option. Many printer run on this and you shouldn't have an issue finding support for your issues with it either.
Aluminum: 2x 4mm sheets, 500x500mm, & 1m 30x60mm 90 degree angle bar. I used these for the build plate, and as part of the carriage for every axis. I also used it to build several brackets and pulleys.
GT2 Belt: 852mm loop and 5m straight. The loop ended up being to small and forced me to go with a cantilevered bed design. 5m was more than enough for the un-looped belt requirements. After cutting the original
Core XY belts, I still had enough for the cartesian belts and have stored the Core XY ones for later use.
Bearing: 8x12x3.5 mm flanged bearing. These are needed for the 12 mm linear rod support brackets used with the 8mm lead screw. I also used them for all of the pulleys. I put two together with a flange on both sides of the belt. I will however be switching to 608 bearings in the future.
Mechanical end stops V1.2: I picked these because they were pretty cheap and advertised for a 3D printer. I ended up bypassing the whole board on these and wiring directly to the switch. It just worked easier for me to do this.
RepRap LCD: I picked this up because it was cheap. There are other options, The Viki2 looks much nicer, but is more expensive. There were some issues with it that were easy to overcome, see the electronic section for details.
Smoothieboard RepRap LCD shield: Press on adapter. Did require soldering on a few headers to the smoothie board.
NEMA 17 Motor brackets: 3x. Holds the motors in place.only needed for the X,Y and Z, the extruder holds the 4th motor.
16 tooth pulleys: 5mm bore (3 qty) I got a about 8 with the 5m belt.
36 tooth pulleys: 8mm bore (2 qty) These go onto the 8mm lead screw. With this design you won't need the 5-8mm shaft couplers and 2 Z motors of other designs.
RepRap MK2 Heat Bed: Only 200x200mm but much cheaper than a 300mm one. If you go with a bigger one, just make sure that the Amps are supported by the Smoothieboard. You can power it separately and still control it with a smoothie board with a separate power supply setup which is explained in the wiki.
12mm linear rod support brackets: These hold the 8mm lead screw. I used two flanged bearings on each bracket.
Thermistors: I ended up not needing these. The hot end and heated both came with one. They were cheap and I'll need replacements eventually. I bought cheap eBay ones so I'm not sure and haven't tested accuracy. You can set the PID in Smoothie ware so you can make them work correctly if they are off.
8x400mm lead screw: I bought a pair of cheap ones on eBay that are probably better than 8mm threaded rod.
Extruder: Greg Wade reloaded with herringbone gear. This is the only printed part on the printer. I bought it on eBay.This was cheaper than some of the all metal direct drive ones I found.
Motors: I bought 4 total, one each for XYZ and the extruder. I bought nice motors with removable plugs on eBay but they are overstock custom motors and I can't find specification from the manufacturer. Just make sure you can find the full specs before you buy.
Linear Supported Rods: 6pcs 12X355mm rails. I went with supported rails to get more stability without having to go to a larger diameter. When you calculate you build area, make sure you factor in that you loose the total width of you linear bearing set up from the length of the rod. I picked these because I found a great deal. You can get unsupported rails for much cheaper. Just realize that you will get more vibration. Another option is supported rails. These will be much better but incredibly expensive. A final option I have see is to use T-Slot as a linear rail. you build wheels with bearings to run directly on the aluminum. They may actually be the cheapest option but I didn't do much research on it so I don't know how well it works.
Wire: 18 Gauge, I bought a role of black and red for the heat bed. 24 Gauge, I striped this out of an old Cat 6 cable with a broken terminal.
Dean's Plug: I had several already from my RC trucks. I used one for the heat bed wire. This is not required, just for convince, but any 12A or better connector will work.
2 pin JST connectors: I used these as to connect wires. You could use any type.
ATX Power supply: I used ATX because it has 12v and 5v rails. I picked 400W because they don't come much smaller. These will require a bit more work than a 12 or 24V only power supply but is is pretty easy.
Filament: get a few types to test it. I got one roll of PLA & ABS, and some samples of ninjaflex and glow in the dark PLA. So far PLA is way better than ABS. My first prints worked great with PLA. I still haven't got an ABS print to finish. This is most likely because I haven't enclosed the printer yet and my garage is cold, but just so your aware, PLA is less picky. Also, ABS smells like burning plastic while it prints. This is fin in my garage but would not be good inside the house.
Step 2: Tools and Supplies
I built this printer without the use of other 3D printed parts based on my own design (inspired by many others). The only 3D printed part on the initial build is a Greg Wade Reloaded extruder with a Herring Bone Gear which I purchased from eBay. Essentially, some of the tools were needed to fabricate some of the parts. If you go with a different design with better support you will only need tools for assembly.
Tools and Supplies
- Safety Glasses - protect you eyes when your drilling, sawing, grinding, etc.
- Gloves - same as above, use theme with power tools.
- Other - check safety directions with what tools or products you using.
- Drill Press - Important for drilling through the aluminium and better than a hand drill for straight accurate holes. You could use a hand drill if needed. I have a cheap Harbor Freight Press I bought a few years back.
- Hand drill - I used this for drilling starter holes, counter sinks and hole bores.
- Jig Saw - I used this to but the aluminum sheet. This is not Ideal for getting the most accurate line but it worked for this application. You could do this by hand with a hack saw maybe, but it would take a long time.
- Circular Saw - For cutting plywood sheets. Also could be done by hand with more time to spare.
- Dremel Tool - There are a lot of uses for this, mainly I used it for cutting off bolt heads and grinding stuff down.
- Files - Clean up sharp edges on aluminum
- Chisels - I used these on the Y Axis plywood to bring it down by 4mm to mate up flush with the aluminum. you could also use a circular or table saw to cut this away or use another design.
- Screw Drivers - mainly phillips + various sizes
- Allen wrenches/Hex Keys - many of the parts that require them come with one but having a set is handy.
- Wire cutter/stripper
- Wire terminal Crimper. This is used for all of the connector pins going to the board. I bought one with swappable heads for cheap but it was terrible. It would probably work great for bigger applications. I had to buy a second one. See picture for the type you want. It has an almost heart shaped top on it. 1.6-2.3 was plenty of range for this project.
- Micrometer - I just have a cheap digital one, but it is important for checking accuracy during the build and in calibrating the printer once its built.
- Rulers, T-square, Triangles - I have several different types of each, they are important for getting accurate and square, measurements and cuts.
- Multimeter - important for checking and troubleshooting various electrical circuits.
Others and consumables:
- Wax or oil, I used Johnson's paste wax for cutting and drilling the aluminum. This helps lubricate and cool the cut which helps it cut easier and held your tools last longer. You can also use it to protect and shine the wood.
- Lock tight - Use the blue one for any nuts or bolts that might come loose from vibration. For small or non hardened bolts, only use red if you're never going to take that bolt out again.
- Screws - 12mm self drilling wood screw for attaching things to the plywood without going through.
- 60mm screws for holding two pieces of plywood together
- Drill Bits - Several sizes based on the sizes of screws. I just have a big cheap set.
- Counter bore set - For counter sinking screws and bolts.
- Screw, nuts, washers set - I bought a set of metric screws, nuts, and washers from amazon I use various sizes. I will try to not what i use in the other sections but don't have a specific BOM for the exact sizes and numbers.
- M8x12mm countersunk screw - I used these to connect the aluminum through to the linear bearings. you will need 24 if you use two bearings for each axis. 4 per bearing.
Step 3: Frame
The frame is made from 12mm Plywood. I bought a whole sheet and had about ¼ left over. I did have to remake a few pieces to make it wider because of a bad initial measurement. There are six total pieces for the main structure: Two side pieces with a window and door cut out (coming soon), a back piece, floor piece, and two front pieces. The floor piece is raised about 10mm from the bottom of the sides. This is so I can have bolts and such on the bottom. I also plan to add adjustable feet at some point. An open area at the back was designed to house all of the electronics and eventually a spool holder. Overall, the design is a bit too flexible. I had initially wanted to go with aluminum extrusion (t-slot) but didn’t want to commit till I knew more about how everything worked together. I will eventually upgrade and may also add additional bracing to this frame in the meantime. I had planned to add cutouts for the LCD and ATX power supply but will need to design bezels for them at a later time.
Step 4: Mechanical - X Axis
Design: The X-axis moves left and right and is made up of the X carriage or tool carrier. I looked at a few options for mounting this and settled on a cantilevered tool carrier with horizontal parallel linear rails. The X carriage surrounds the Y carriage and is suspended from the parallel liner supported rails. This allowed for small changes in the height of the tool. The carriage has two aluminum plates on the top and bottom. The tool carrier is mounted on the back side of the carrier on an aluminum plate attached by two M6 bolts. The front side of the carrier is a small block of plywood held in place by four screws, two each on the top and bottom plates.
Top plate: This plate has 6 holes. Two at the rear corners for the tool carrier bolts, two at the front for the plywood spacer, and two in the middle for the belt attachment.
X belt attachment: The X belt is attached to a block which is attached to the top center of the X carriage. The belt was sandwiched between this and a small piece of scrap aluminum. I have replaced this with a temporary Zip tie Tensioner after I got the Idea from another instructable. https://www.instructables.com/id/Zip-ties-for-Tens... A large zip tie (12”) attached to the end of each belt which is looped over itself and secured with a small zip tie (3”). The zip tie acts as a tensioner.
Bottom plate: This plate has 12 holes. Two at the rear corners for the tool carrier bolts, two at the front for the plywood spacer, and 8 in the middle, 4 for each linear bearing. The holes for the bearings are very important to get straight. A misalignment will cause additional friction and vibration. See the “Work arounds” for a partial solution to misaligned holes.
Back plate: This is simply a block of plywood used as a spacer to match the height of the front. I used some long wood screws so I had to offset the holes. If your screws are less than half the length of the plywood you won’t need to do this. I also changed the length of the front screws at one point so I had to add a few washers between the plywood and the bottom plate to keep the carriage square.
Front & tool carrier: The front of the carriage is two bolts that hold the tool carrier which is a small plate of aluminum. The carrier plate has two holes at the back for mounting to the carriage and three holes in the front for mounting the extruder and hot end. For the hot end hole I used a stepped “cone shaped” drill bit as I didn’t have a bit big enough. This plate sits in the middle of the bolts with a nut on either side to keep it in place. Over all there are 10 nuts, five on each bolt. From the top down it is bolt head, top plate, nut, space, nut, carrier plate, nut, space, nut, bottom plate, bottom nut. Use blue lock tight once you have everything position.
Step 5: Mechanical - Y Axis
Design: The Y Axis moves front and back along two parallel supported rails and carries the X carriage. The Y Axis is essentially a long plank that holds the two X rails and attaches on either end to the Y rails. The design goal for this was to keep “Z-height” as low as possible and keep the center of gravity below or equivalent to the rails. I decided to use plywood as the “back bone” of this piece because I didn’t have enough aluminum for a full aluminum part. I used aluminum at the ends to hold the bearings, X motor and X Pulley.
Main body: To minimize its height, I embedded the aluminum in the plywood by cutting away the top 4 mm of plywood on either end. I used a circular saw to cut 4mm groves into the end and a chisel to clean it all out. I used the bolts for the linear rails to hold the whole thing together. I clamped the pieces together and marked and drilled the pieces together. I used 15mm M3 bolts and had to cut the ends off with a dermel because they were too long. I used a small scrap of aluminum to protect the rail while I cut in case I slipped or the bit caught.
Y Carrier End pieces: The right side end holds one Y bearing, the X motor and the X end stop. The bearing has 4 counter sunk holes. The motor bracket requires 2 bolts but will need to be upgraded later as it tends to twist a bit. The end stop is a pretty poor design. I drilled two holes in the aluminum and then placed a piece of electrical tape under the end stop so it doesn’t short out on the aluminum. I plan fix all of this when by designing a printable motor/end stop holder.
The Left side has another Y bearing underneath, an X bearing on top, and Y Belt attachment. The Y bearing is the same are the others, 4 counter sunk bolts. The X belt bearing holder and the Y belt attachment are one assembly. The pulley is made of two flanged 3.5 mm bearings and is mounted on a bolt between to aluminum L brackets. Each L bracket is attached by one bolt to the Y carrier. The two bearings slide onto a bit of electrical tape between two nuts on the center of the bolt. When the nuts are tightened the electrical tape is squished and expands in diameter holding the bearings in place. The Y belt is held in place by an aluminum plate on the end of this bolt. The design for this is also pretty poor. I will be upgrading to a printed part shortly. How many bearings?: I used one on each side; this was a mistake. This worked fine for the X axis but with the long distance between the bearings on the Y axis, there is a bit too much slop. The non-belt side tends to vibrate a bit too much. The design has plenty of room for two bearings so I will upgrade that later. I did reduce the slop some by tightening up the bearings. There are hex key bolts on two sides of each bearing for tightening the play in each direction.
Y Motor, belt, and pulley: The Y axis motor is mounted to the back of the frame. A pulley is mounted to the front of the frame and is another two 3.5mm flanged bearings on a bold design. The tension is accomplished by pulling and tightening the belt ends. This is not ideal and I have already begun a replacement tensioner design.
Step 6: Mechanical - Z Axis
I’ll start out by saying this Z axis is overall a bad design. I’ll suggest improvement areas as I go but this was a concession made because the belt I ordered as not long enough. There are some good points so I will tell you what works and what doesn’t.
Design: The Z axis is cantilevered from two supported rails at the back and moved by two 8mm lead screws. There is a carrier plate attached to all the linear movement pieces. The build plate is attached to the z carrier plate by three adjustable screws for leveling.
Build plate: The build plate is 300x300mm with three “tabs” about 15x40mm centered on three sides. The plate was cut with a jig saw while the plate was clamped down. The cuts were “mostly” straight. I cleaned up the problem areas with a hand file and it overall worked out fine. Three point leveling is much more effective than four point so I highly recommend you go this route. Each tab has one centered hole for the leveling screw. The screws are counter sunk and don’t stick up above the build plane. This is important so that the hot end can never hit them. The holes are larger than the diameter of the bolt so that it can float above the carrier and change its angle. There is a spring on each leveling screw to keep tension on build plate (see note).
Note: Get a nice strong spring. I got a multipack of springs and none were strong enough. I ordered some 1mm wire springs and these are not strong enough until they are nearly compressed all of the way. I will probably try 2mm next.
Z Carrier: The Z Carrier is a rectangular sheet of 4mm aluminum. It has three holes for the leveling screws. I drilled these at the same time as the build plate by clamping them together. If you do this and the alignment of the holes is not perfectly symmetric you will need to keep the same orientation when you build. i.e. you cannot flip the build plate or the holes will no longer align. On the back end of this plate is an aluminum L bracket. The vertical side of the L bracket attaches to the two linear bearings with 4 bolts each. The lead screws go through a hole drilled through both the plate and L bracket. The lead screw nuts are attached to the Z Carrier by 4 screws each.
Lead screws: The lead screws are attached to the bottom of the frame by to brackets. The brackets each hold two flanged bearings. The base is elevated 24mm from the bottom of the printer by ply wood sheets. The top of the lead screws is currently unsupported. I will most likely add top supports when I redo the overall Z design.
Motor, belts, tensioner: This is the only belt in the machine that requires a looped belt. The motor sits on the bottom of the printer attached to a piece of plywood running across the bottom from left to right. I ended up having to add bracing to this as it was bending when I tensioned the belt and causing slipping. The brace is just a piece of plywood attached perpendicular to the first piece. The motor has a 16 tooth pulley for 5mm shaft, and the lead screws have a 36 tooth pulley for 8mm shaft. I did this for gear reduction. I didn’t want to go with the two motor Z axis design and figured that if two motors could do it, one could also do it slower with 2:1 gear reduction (actually 4:9 here). This works fine and I haven’t had an issue with the motor strength. As the weight of an printed object rises I still shouldn’t have an issue as it is moving down and will be helped along by gravity. The tensioner sites in between the two lead screws and pulls the belt toward the motor creating a “V” shape. The tensioner pulley is another two 3.5mm flanged bearings on a bold design. I mounted this bolt to a scrap of aluminum sheet and cut a groove into it so I could slide the bolt for different tension. The aluminum was to flexible so I had to bold it down closer to the pulley with a wood screw. This pulley design will be replaced when I make the next upgrade.
Step 7: Electrical
- Don't do any work on electrical components while the power supply is plugged in.
- Double check polarity of everything before you turn it on for the first time.
- If you not sure about it, don't hook it up till you are. I waited a week before hooking up the end stops because I didn't want to fry anything and wasn't 100% sure about the circuit.
There is a really good guide on the Smoothie website and great support so I won’t cover all of the setup; I will only cover a few areas that I had issues with. http://smoothieware.org/3d-printer-guide
LCD: I picked a RepRap discount LCD. There is a shield available that was easy enough to mount. You will have to add a few pins to the smoothie board to make it work. Also read about the power options for the LCD on Smoothie board. If you use an ATX or separate 5V power supply you shouldn’t have an issue. The one issue I had was the pins on the generic LCD I bought were flipped. Ext1 is still ext1 but you have to flip the connector to make it work. If there is a key tab on the connector you may have to file or grind it off.
Fans: as of now I only have one fan on the hotend wired directly to the ATX for always on. You can wire fans to the smoothie board and control them. Read the smoothieboard guide first as you will need to add a diode to the board for fans.
ATX: I used an ATX power supply because they are cheap and have 12v and 5v lines. Yellow lines are 12v, red lines are 5v, black lines are ground. Check polarity on everything before hooking it up and again before turning it on for the first time. I have a total of three 12v lines goring to the Smoothieboard, one going to the hotend fan, and one 5v line going to the Smoothieboard. I will use the extra lines to add some switch controlled LED strips and board fans later on. I have also considered adding a Raspberry Pi to run Pronterface or something but we’ll see.
ATX Switch: Wire a switch or jumper from the green wire to one of the black ground wires.
End stops: I bought V1.2 mechanical end stops. There are other types and version of end stops but these were cheap and I didn’t really research. The Smoothieboard has 3 pins for each end stop. These end stops had 4 pins. I tried to figure it all out and gave up. I soldered directly to the switch and bypassed the end stop board all together. I used a normally closed connection. This is safer because if there is a fault in the wiring it will trigger a stop because the circuit will open. For this you wire Signal to signal and Ground to “NO” on the end stop. You don’t use the VCC pin on the smoothie for this configuration.
Motors: Find a good motor with good documentation. I bought some good motors but they are custom designed for a Canon Saddle Sticher and I can’t get any info on the operating current. I am running them at 1.2 A without any overheating or missed steps so far. The motor drivers on smoothieboard max out at 2A so if you’re going that route just be aware. If you’re going with another board or separate drivers just do you research first. Wiring the motors is covered will on the smoothieboard guide. Depending on how you hook up the motors and where you place the endstops, you may need to inverse the drive direction of the motors and potentially set “0 to Max” both are very easy in Smoothie.
Heat bed: I picked a 200x200mm RepRap heat bed because of the price. It struggles to bring up the temperature in my very cold garage. I may add some insulation to the bottom of the build plate to help and will probably upgrade to a more expensive higher amp one later. If you go bigger, check the specs on the Smoothieboard. You may need to set up a separate power source which can still be controlled from the smoothie. I bought some 18 gauge wire to attach the heat bed to the board. I used a Deans style connector near the bed to disconnect as needed. (I had several from my RC hobby) I soldered the positive and negative wires on. The version of board I bought had one connection for 12V and one for 24V. I placed the heat bed with Kapton Tape along all 4 sides. I may add some other method in the future but this seems to work for now. I placed the thermistor in the center hole of the heat bed and held it in place with a small square of Kapton tape.
Wire management: because you have wires going to moving parts you need something to keep them out of the way. I had some wire loom in a box so I used that to keep the wires together. I have two bundles; one going to the Y Axis for the X axis motor and end stop, and one going to the X axis for the extruder, hot end, fan and thermistor. On either end of the looms I used a metal clothes hanger bent into a hook to keep the wires in place and vertical. I haven’t done anything with the wiring in the back at this point.
Step 8: Set Up, Calibration & Software
Calibration is very important. I will cover a few areas I had the biggest problems with.
There is a great guide for calibration here: Triffid Hunter's Calibration Guide
Double Check!: Before you start it up or plug in the power double check these:
- Polarity of all the inputs and outputs.
- Connection of the motors: Your solders and pins have to be well connected and plugs in. Never unplug a motor while it is powered on.
Zero to Min or Max & Motor Direction:
- Depending on where you want your Zero position and how you wired the motors you may need to change the default "zero to min" setting to "zero to max" or change the direction of the motor all together. These are both easy in Smoothie.
- When I started it up and tested the direction and zeroing of the axis, I just kept my finger on the power switch in case goes the wrong direction or over runs one of the directions.
Steps per mm:
- Stepper Motors think in steps and translate movement into mm.
- There is a good calculator: http://prusaprinters.org/calculator/
- I used Kapton tape for the build surface.
- I also used hair spray. These together have worked great for PLA. I have not had so much luck with ABS
Bed leveling & Z end stop:
- The Z end stop is important for bed placement, not leveling. Without a good mount, it was pretty hard to get it perfectly placed in the plywood.
- I used three point leveling. With three point leveling, One of the two screws across from each other is the base level, once set, this one should be set and left in place. Across from that is the roll screw. The screw by itself is is the tilt.
- Check the level and z distance with a sheet of paper between the extruder nozzle and the bed.
- Text Editor: For changing the configuration file. Check the Smoothie dude for changes to the Config file. Any line with # at the beginning is ignored by the operating system.
- Host Software: Pronterface There are others. This program lets you control the printer with G or M code and can stream G-code files to the printer. There is a bit of in issue streaming over USB so it is best to print from the SD or over either net. See the Smoothieboard site for details on how to set up network support.
- Slicing program: I use Slic3r. I have also tried Cura. This program turns you STL files into G-code which is what the printer runs on.
- 3D modeling software. There are a huge range of programs that range from free to thousands of dollars. I have been using Autodesk 123D which is free.
First Print: Start with some small calibration prints in PLA. There are a tone of different ones that can test specific aspects of the printer. I started with 5mm calibration pyramids till i got my steps per mm figured out. The Smoothie Sd Card had several bundled with it.
Sources for files:
- I have been using http://www.thingiverse.com for files. There are a ton of awesome designs available.