3D Printing: From Noob to Pro

So you just bought a 3d printer, now what? Maybe you have been printing the example files included with your 3d printer, or have been printing Pikachu figures but you want to print useful things, or maybe you have printed some files but are not happy with the results. No matter what the reason, you've come to the right Instructable!

As I was saying, if you just bought your 3d printer, you may not know what to do, or how to use it. This Instructable will guide you through setting it up to print and how to get the most out of it. You will learn how to prepare your files for printing, optimise your print settings, 3d model with TinkerCAD and Fusion 360 (two free CAD programs), and when things don't work out how to fix models with Netfabb. And for lazy people, with the Netfabb free online repair service.

I hope you enjoy it!


PD: I'm a 13 year old kid so please forgive any grammatical errors. Also, I don´t own any of the channels showcased in this video and I give full credit of the videos to them.

Step 1: Introduction to 3D Printing

There are several 3d printing technologies out there, but the one we are going to focus on is FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) also called FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication), that is what most printers on the consumer market use. This technology works by depositing molten plastic layers that fuse together as they cool down.

Step 2: Introduction to Slicing

Do you know what slicing is? Yes!, it's cutting salami into slices. Jokes apart, slicing is a major step in 3d printing, it prepares the models for 3d printing. It's called slicing because it slices the model into layers. We will use Cura, a free slicing software owned by Ultimaker. I recommend using version 15.04, because the settings are not overwhelming, it is fairly easy to use and you can export the profiles to octoprint (This will be covered later on).

Step 3: Downloading Cura 15.04

If tou haven't clicked the link on last step here you have it. You will want to download Cura 15.04, as shown on the image above.

Step 4: Setting Up Cura for Your 3d Printer

Just google up "cura 15.04 settings for"+ (ex: Creality CR-10). Download the profile. If you don't find a .ini downloadable profile, you'll have to create it yourself. You want to click on "Machine" (see image above) and then on "create new machine". This will open up the cura New Machine Wizard. You want to click next and if your machine is found on the list, you're done, just tick it and voilá! But if it isn't, you want to tick other and then click next. If your machine is found on the following list, you're done, just click it and finished! If not, tick custom and click next. Here's the tricky part, you have to input your machine's build volume. This is usually found on the manufacturer's webpage, as well as the nozzle size and if it has a heated bed or not. Usually machines don't have the origin at the center, but you want to check that as well to be safe. Note that the values in the image are only references, you have to fill them in with your on values. You should now be finished with the settings.

Step 5: Printing Your First Model

This is really easy, you print what you want, but I recommend as a first print, you maybe want to print a 3DBenchy, this will test your 3d printer and how it handles overhangs, plus, you get a really nice boat. You want to download the stl and open it up in Cura, to do this you want to click file > load model file. You want to put support type to none, and bed adhesion to brim. If you have a heated bed and are printing PLA, set the bed temperature to 60 degrees and the nozzle temperature to 200 degrees. For the moment, you want to save the gcode to your SD card and start printing.

Step 6: Entering the World of CAD With TinkerCAD

If your 3DBenchy succeeded, you'll want to print your own designs. So follow me as we enter the world of CAD! You want to open TinkerCAD (It's an online tool so no downloading is required) and create an account. By the way, CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. TinkerCAD comes with loads of tutorials, but I will explain briefly its features. Let's start with a bit of theory: TinkerCAD works by adding up basic shapes to create 3d models. You can transform a body into a hole and cut it out. To start, let's make a figurine display that you can use for your 3DBenchy. So, create a new design and start creating!

Step 7: Creating the Figurine Display

  1. Let's start creating a box (The interface is drag and drop). This is shown in the image above
  2. Dimension the cube so it is 50x50 on the base. The dimension window pops up when you click on one of the nodes(the small white squares located in the corners of the model). This is shown on the image above.
  3. Make the cube 50 units high. You can change the height by clicking on the white node on the top as shown on the image above.
  4. Select the cube and hit Ctrl+D to duplicate it.
  5. Move the duplicate apart and transform it into a hole as shown on the image above.
  6. On the new cube, change the width to 46 units. This will allow us to make walls for the display
  7. Change the view to top view. This is done clicking on the top face of the cube located on the left corner of the screen.
  8. Align the cubes as shown on the image.
  9. Right click to change your view and drag the arrow of the grey cube while it's selected so the number shows 8.
  10. Select the two cubes and group them with Ctrl+G

Step 8: Customising the Print Display

Now, let's put your name on it! Start by creating a wedge. Change its height to 8 units, its lenght to 50 units and its width to 8 units. Now create a new text. Put your name in the text bar (Located in the shape widget). Scale the text to be 56 units long and 7 units high, then change the height to 3 units. Rotate the text by -45 degrees. To do this, look at the text from the side, and click the rotate widget(located on top of the arrow that is used to move up the shape) then in the box that pops up input -45. Align the wedge and the text and group them. Align the stand and the text/wedge, Combine them, and you're done! Click the export button, and download it as a stl. Print it as you printed the 3DBenchy (With the same Cura profile).

Step 9: Introducing Parametric CAD With Fusion360

Parametric CAD modelling is the way you want to go if you want to print functional parts. Fusion360 is a parametric CAD modelling program that is free for personal use. I am not covering how to download it for personal use. This is covered in this excellent tutorial by Devin Montes, from Make Anything. So let's get started!

Step 10: Making a Maker Coin in Fusion360

In this Instructable I will not be covering modelling in Fusion 360, because it is too complicated to explain in text. But this guy, Angus Deveson, from Maker´s Muse covers it in his tutorial on how to create a Maker Coin. I will embed the video in this step.

Step 11: Fixing Files

Have you tried to print a file but it hasn´t turned out? Tried everything in your slicer but it still doesen´t turn out? Thinking that your 3d printer is broken? Maybe there is nothing wrong with your printer, or your slicer, maybe it´s the model that is unprintable. To fix this, you will need to fix the model. There are a lot of free programs that do that. We will use Netfabb, by Autodesk that is a paid program with a free version. If you don´t want to use your time to fix models, you may as well use the free Netfabb online model repair service. To install it, watch this video by Thomas Sanladerer, embedded in this step.

Step 12: Using Netfabb to Fix Your Models

Fixing your models with Netfabb is easy. Import a model into Netfabb, click on Prepare>Repair Part, then click on Repair>Automatic Repair and then click on Default Repair>Execute. Click on Repair>Apply Repair>Remove Old Part. Repeat the process with Simple Repair instead of Automatic Repair. If you don't want to do all this, you can simply use the Netfabb online service. Netfabb is only meant to use as a more advanced repair system, and if you start now, you won't regret it.

Step 13: Extra: Using OctoPrint to Print Remotely

If you've been printing for a while, you might have heard of OctoPrint. It allows you to print files remotely(only within your own network), without needing to access your 3d printer physically. It allows you to send Gcode remotely, but it can also slice the stl itself, so you can use your phone to 3d print things. It also allows you to use a camera to do timelapses and check your prints. All that while being seated on your couch reading your Instructables feed! You will need a raspberry pi with wifi connection (if you choose a pi zero w, you won't be able to use the camera). Download octopi and image it into your sd card (use https://octoprint.org/download/ to download it and for further information). To set it up, follow the instructions on the website. To have auto-slicing done within octoprint, simply import the Cura profile during the setup. To export the Cura profile(15.04 only) go to Profile>Manage Profiles>*theprofileyouwanttoexport*>Export. It should give you a .ini file. Connect the raspberry pi with octoprint to the 3d printer by the usb port that connects to the computer and you're ready to go.

Step 14: Thank You for Reading This Instructable!

If you read this Instructable and liked it, please vote it for the First Time Author contest. Even if you found that the information covered in the Instructable is very vague, or that I rely too much on other people's content, please take into account that it's written by me (a 13 year old) and I'm not as experienced as other Instructables creators (that are usually adults). Thank you for reading this.



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