Introduction: Venom Snake Automaton [2. 3D PRINTING THE AUTOMATON]

About: Automata for 3D printing

Step 1: How to Ensure Proper Fit Between Parts

  • Eliminate “Elephant’s Foot”: One of the causes of this problem is the first layer being too squished. To solve this, please check the manual of your 3D printer to properly calibrate the first layer of your machine. If the “elephant’s foot” persists you can still correct it in the slicer:
    • PrusaSlicer: Print Settings -> Advanced -> Elephant foot compensation
    • Cura: Print settings (Custom) -> Search settings -> Initial Layer Horizontal Expansion
      • But be careful with the last option, if you overdo it, what is shown in the picture above will happen. The first layer was so shrunk down that the second layer didn’t have support.
  • Calibrate Your 3D Printers: If you print in more than one printer, make sure all are calibrated. This is to avoid any printer from printing bigger or smaller. Please check the manual of your 3D printer to properly calibrate your machine.
  • Sand Any Imperfections: For example blobs or seams (the last one especially on cams).

Step 2: 3MF Files

This type of file was chosen because it enables saving several parts in one file. This allows subdividing the automaton into smaller groups.

Although this type of file can save 3D printing settings, I have chosen not to include any to maintain compatibility with other software (e.g Meshmixer).

Step 3: 3D Printing Settings

The 3D printing settings were incorporated into the name of the part. The format is as shown above.

The possible Settings are:

  • 100 = 100% infill
  • S = It needs support
  • T = It has thin walls
  • B = It has a brim
  • X = It has a different layer height than the rest of the group

Example 1:


The settings are 100% infill and it needs support.

Example 2:


In this case, there are no specific settings, you can use the default.

Example 3:


In this case, you have to activate the option to print thin walls and it informs that it has a brim.

Step 4: Layer Height

These are suggested layer heights, you should use values your machine can handle.

NOTE: Parts that have an “X” in the assigned site for the settings have a different layer height than the group they belong to.

Example 1:


This part has a layer height of 0.15mm

Example 2:


This part has a layer height of 0.1mm

Example 3:


This part has a layer height of 0.05mm

Step 5: 3D Printing Settings (Visual Guide: G1 to G4)

Unfortunately, Cura doesn’t preserve the names of the parts. To assign settings per object, you will have to use this visual guide. PrusaSlicer does preserve the names.

Step 6: 3D Printing Settings (Visual Guide: G5 to G8)

Step 7: 3D Printing Settings (Visual Guide: G9 to G12)

Step 8: 3D Printing Settings (Visual Guide: G13 to G16)

Step 9: Loading the Files Into the Slicer

WARNING: Because of tolerances, don’t scale down the model. You can scale it up but it hasn’t been tested.

NOTE: Please be careful with this filament (esun eSilk-PLA Gold). It didn't have good layer adhesion, and therefore, it wasn't strong enough for the small mechanical parts. Also, the success rate when printing small parts (e.g the rifles) was very low. It is possible it was just this spool, or specific to this color, I didn’t test further. (The filament was dry, the printer was calibrated, neither the extruder nor the nozzle was clogged, and I used the recommended temperatures).

TIP: Using brown filament, instead of yellow, will prevent painting a base color.

The following strategy was designed to keep track of what you are printing:

A. Open only one 3mf file in the slicer. Open the files in order: G1, G2, … Each file corresponds to one group. (If you haven’t printed the Filament Ruler and the Alignment Tool, please load them).

  • PrusaSlicer: Select “No” to the message “Multi-part object detected”.
  • Cura: Do nothing.

B. Arrange all models.

C. If there aren’t objects outside the bed go to the next step, if there are, go to step “E.” (Zoom all the way out, especially in PrusaSlicer, so you can see outside the bed).

D. Assign settings per object (quick guide: PrusaSlicer, Cura).

  • PrusaSlicer: Assign settings incorporated in the name and then go to step “A.”
  • Cura: Press undo once -> Assign settings using the visual guide -> Arrange all models -> Go to step “A.”

E. Unload the last group.

  • PrusaSlicer: Press undo twice.
  • Cura: Press undo until the entire group is unloaded.

F. Select the layer height that most objects are going to use. (The layer Height is in “Step 4”).

  • PrusaSlicer: Check the right panel to see which groups you loaded.
  • Cura: Check the object list (bottom left) to see which groups you loaded.

G. (Optional) Check for parts and groups that should have different layer height than the previously selected and change it. (The layer Height is listed in “Step 4”).

  • PrusaSlicer:
    1. (Groups with different layer height than the previously selected) Locate the group in the right panel. Then, change the layer height of each part of the group.
    2. (Parts with different layer height than the group they belong to) Look for the group to which the part belongs in the right panel. Then, in the name of the parts look for the “X” in the assigned site for the settings. Change the layer height.
  • Cura: Unfortunately, Cura can’t assign per object layer heights.

H. Save the project (use a descriptive name e.g A0_G1toG4) -> Slice -> Save the Gcode -> 3D print.

I. Repeat until everything is printed.

WARNING: Being organized is very important for the assembly, don’t mix the groups you just printed with the next. You can use the visual guide (Step 5 to 8) to organize things even further. The more organized, the easier the assembly is going to be.

WARNING: Don’t paint the parts yet.

NOTE: Please, use scissors to remove the built-in brim.