Introduction: The Basics of 3D Printing on a Type a Series 1 Beta: Made at Techshop: San Francisco

Hey There Folks,

In this Instructable, Social Transformation brings you the basics on how to 3D print on a Type A Series 1 3D printer. This was made at Techshop San Francisco. For more information on Techshop and how to get involved in your Maker Community check out

In this guide you will learn:

  • How to print your G Code File How to adjust the spacing between the extruder and build platform (Using Pronterface)
  • How to load filament into printer
  • How to upload an STL file to a slicer software (using KiSSlicer)
  • How to make basic adjustments in KiSSlicer
  • How to create a G Code file
  • How to upload G Code into Pronterface

To use this guide you will need:

  1. Type A Series 1 3D Printer
  2. PLA Filament (1.75mm)
  3. KiSSlicer Software (open source)
  4. Pronterface (open source)
  5. Pliers
  6. Wire Cutters

Step 1: Adjusting the Spacing Between the Extruder and Build Platform

Before you beginning 3D printing, you are going to have to create the proper spacing between the Extruder (the heated machine that extrudes the filament in a liquid solid form) and the Build Platform (the flat surface that the Extruder prints onto) to maximize the quality and speed of the printing process.

If the Extruder is too high or low from the Build Platform then the filament will extrude out of alignment with your digital blueprints, with lack of accuracy and durability.

As a general rule of thumb, you can find the right spacing by using a piece of card stock paper. Ideally, you want to be able to place the card stock between the extruder and the platform with a slight snug fitting. This means that, if resting on the platform, the card stock should just lightly skim the bottom of the extruder.

To do this:

  1. Make sure that your printer is connected to your computer via USB
  2. Open Pronterface (the printer controlling software)
  3. Click "Z-Home" to bring the platform and extruder to printing position. The "Z Home" button is for the Z-Axis of the printer.
  4. Take a piece of card stock and see if you can place it underneath the extruder. If it cannot fit, then we will need to adjust the platform lower, if there is no friction against the card stock then we need to make the platform higher.
  5. To adjust the height of the printer platform, first lower the platform 60mm by hitting the larger button labeled "10" 6 times on Pronterface. This will lower the platform 10mm 6 times = 60mm. That is enough space for you hand
  6. On the back wall of the printer in the middle of the wall there is a small black dial. That dial controls the fine movement of the 3D Printer. Turn it clock-wise to raise the platform and counter clockwise to lower it.
  7. Once you have adjusted it, hit "Z Home" and test the card stock again. If it has a slight grip but doesn't feel tight then you've probably hit the sweet spot but if not then repeat steps 5-6 until you have.

Step 2: How to Load the Filament Into the Extruder

The next step to using the Series 1 is to load the Filament (building material) into the Extruder. In this Instructables, we are using PLA created from Corn Starch. This is a create filament to use for beginners. It has no harmful chemicals released during printing yet it is strong and reliable. For the following instructions, we will assume that the printer you are using has been used before you.

1. Open Pronterface and make turn the temperature of the printer up to 185 degrees in the lower left quarter of the screen. This will begin the heating process of the Extruder.

2. Once Pronterface states that the temperature of the printer is at 185 degrees, go over to your Series 1 Printer and place your right hand through the top hole on the right wall of the printing structure. Your hand should be above the Extruder. It is generally safer to go through the side of the printer rather than from the face of the printer so you can’t burn yourself on the extruder.

3. Take your right hand and pull the filament lever on the top right of the extruder to the far right with your thumb. If you look at the bottom of the lever there should be a cylinder with a groove through the middle and below that a hole that will fit the 1.75 mm filament. In the hole, there should be a small string a filament sticking out from the last print project.

4. While holding the lever with your right hand, take your left hand and push the string of filament into the hole so that it starts to extrude through the bottom off the extruder. Once this happens for about a second the filament has softened and will be easier to remove. Pull the filament out of the hole. There should be a residual thin string of filament that comes with it. Once the hair like string is about arms length, disconnect what ever is left to the extruder and place the filament under the build platform.

5. While still holding the filament lever with your right hand, put your left hand through the face of the printer structure and grab the end piece of the filament from the spool rack. Pull out 1 foot to 1.5 feet of filament and carefully place the filament in the groove of the cylinder piece of the extruder and push it with some pressure through the hole for about 1-1.5 inches; until you see filament getting pushed through the bottom of the extruder onto the platform.

6. While holding the filament in place with you left hand, release the lever slowly with your right hand so that the filament is snug between the clip and cylinder.

7. If you or anybody else has printed on this printer before then there will be residual filament left in the printer from piece of filament you pulled out in Step 4. This should be removed to prevent accidently using two different types of filament and to avoid using two different colors on your print by accident. On the Series 1 there is a 65mm reservoir in the Extruder. That means that up to 65mm of filament could be resting in the Extruder from the last print. To remove this, go to the Pronterface window and find the button “Extrude” and adjust it to 65 mm then hit “Extrude” and 65mm of filament should be pushed through the Extruder onto the Platform.

8. Take a pair of pliers and grab the extruded filament on the platform and put it below the build platform within the print structure. We use pliers because the filament may still be hot enough to burn or stick to you.

9. Now your filament is loaded and your printer is ready to print.

Step 3: Load Your STL File in KiSSlicer.

KiSSlicer is an open source G-Code Generator, commonly known as “Slicing Software”. It takes digital 3D files and slices them horizontally into printable layers then turns them into a type of code called “G Code” that can be read by your printer. There are many types of Slicing Software. This is just the common Tech Shop software.

We will assume that you have already created a model on your computer or have downloaded one from a online model database.

1. Open KiSSlicer on your computer

2. Hit the open button on the top right quadrant of the screen.

3. Find your STL file and open it.

4. Your STL model should appear in the viewing screen.

Step 4: How to Make Basic Adjustments Into KiSSlicer

There are may adjustments that you can make to your STL file for may reason. Without going into much detail for fine adjustments will require a Instructable of it's own, here are some basic adjustments that a person who is new to 3D printing can make to optimize the quality and speed of production.

1. Click Show Settings in the bottom corner of the window.

2. Click on the Style Tab

3. Change the following preferences

· Style = 250 microns Standard

· Skin Thickness = 0.5

· Number of Loops = 2

· Inset surface = 0

· Extrusion Width = .65

· Infill Extrusion Width = .65

· Layer Thickness 0.25

4. Click the Support Tab

5. Change the following preferences

· Support = PLA Support Material

· Move the Support Scroll Bar to the far left until it reads “Support Off”

6. Click on the Material Tab

7. Change the following preferences

· Material = PLA

· Diameter = 1.75 mm

· Main Temperature = 185

· First Layer Temperature = 185

8. Once adjustments have been made, hit the “Slice Button” to create a layered object out of your model

Step 5: How to Convert a STL to G-Code Using KiSSlicer

1. Hit Save in KiSSlicer

2. Make sure that the file is saved in G-Code format

Step 6: ​How to Upload a G-Code File to Pronterface Face and Print

  1. Go to Pronterface
  2. Click "Load File"
  3. Load your G-Code file from where ever you saved it
  4. Make sure your port number is set to "230400"
  5. Hit Print

Whola!!! Watch your creation come to life. Visit the Techshop website at to learn about hands-on 3D printing classes.