The purpose of this instructable is to demonstrate basic FDM 3D printing methods using a Stratasys UPrint 3D printer. The following instructions include how to load and unload material from the machine, how to acquire a correct model to print, how to use the UPrint software "Catalyst", and post processing techniques.
We'd also like to say thank you to Iowa State University and Instructables, for helping to make this instructional document possible. All 3D printing was done at Iowa State's Rapid Manufacturing and Prototyping Lab in Sweeney Hall, and much of the documentation was done in Iowa State University computer labs.
Note: All instructions given are under the assumption that the UPrint machine has been previously set up, with all operating software installed onto a computer. This computer must be linked to the UPrint in order to transfer files to the machine for printing. Contact Stratasys directly for troubleshooting, setup, and maintenance.
-Stratasys UPrint 3D Printer
-Model and Support material
-Pick or other tools, to remove out the support material
optional: a parts cleaner, with sodium hydroxide cleaning solution
-A computer with Catalyst software installed, networked to communicate with the UPrint
Step 1: Loading Material
Model material must be loaded periodically. The display will always show how much material is left in the printer. If model and/or support is low, you will need to remove the old cartridge and reload the material carrier with a new one. Support material is a type of soluble plastic, and must be used with this printer. Model material is ABSplus plastic, which is relatively strong. Also, note that the UPrint will only print in one color (Ivory). Newer models such as the UPrint SE and UPrint Plus will print in 9 different colors.
- Press Material Button (Image 1)
- Select Unload (Image 2)
- Choose both or just one type of material to unload (we have chosen both) (Image 3)
- Wait about 5 minutes until it is ready to remove (Image 4)
- press the door near the red light to open it (Image 5)
- Firmly press the bar forward on the material carrier and allow it to pop out (Image 6)
- Pull out the carrier and snip off the material near the carrier with snips (Image 7)
- pull the remaining material out of the machine, be careful no to break it off inside of the printer (Image 8)
- repeat steps 5 through 8 with the other material (Images 9-12)
- Lift the blue clasps from the front of the carrier, and open it (Image 13)
- remove the spool and dispose or recycle it
- Replace with a new spool of P-430 ABSplus Model or P-400 Soluble Support (Image 13)
- Make sure that the model material goes into the carrier with the red front bar and M on it. Make sure that the support material goes into the carrier with the black front bar and the S on it.
- When installing the spool into the carrier, place the electronic strip into the front slot with the metal data connectors face down. This will transmit to the printer how much material has been used, and display how much material remains on the spool. (Image 15)
Close the carrier, fasten the blue straps back down, and orient the material so that approx. 1 inch of material is sticking out. (Image 14)
Insert the carrier into the properly labeled bay which you removed it from by sliding it to the back and firmly pushing it back until it locks into place. (image 16)
- After all carriers are put back into the machine, select load button on the machine display (Image 17-18)
- select either both or one of the materials to load (image 19)
- wait for material to finish loading (image 20)
Step 2: Model Aquisition
All 3d prints generated by the UPrint are derived from 3D solid models. These models allow the UPrint's software to generate coordinates, which the printer head will follow and print layers of ABS plastic.
There are many different ways to acquire a 3D solid model of what you desire to print. The first and most apparent way is to create the model manually, through a CAD program such as SolidWorks. Another way is to download shared CAD models off of websites such as GrabCad or Thingiverse. These websites are designed to allow users to upload their models, and share them with the community. It is also very useful to download previously generated models off of a website, and then modify or personalize them yourself before printing. For this instructable, we decided to create a Rubik's cube.
- Decide what you would like to print, this may be a decorative piece, a prototype, or a functional item such as a Vase or dinner plate.
- Choose whether you will model the item by hand, or download a shared model online (GrabCad,Thingiverse,etc.)
- Download or generate your model, and save it as individual parts and not an assembly. If you are downloading your model, follow these instructions
- Navigate to grabcad.com (see image 1)
- Using the search bar in the upper right-hand corner of the sight, enter what you would like to search for and hit the Enter key.
- A list of related objects should pop up. Select one of the options, and click on it. You should be navigated to the appropriate page (see image 2).
- Click the 'View Files' option on the right-hand side of the screen. A list of files should come up such as in image 3 or image 4. Download all .stl files into an appropriately named folder. Alternatively, you may simply click the 'Download All' button to get all of the files at once.
Step 3: Model Preparation
- Import the downloaded files into a CAD program, or open your previously generated models. This will be the final modifications made to the parts before printing. (Image 2)
- Verify that your model if free of thin edges, such as the blade of a knife or the sharp point of a cone. If you have sharp edges you must square them off, so that there is no feature with a thickness of a single line. Square edges are perfectly fine, but sharp points and razor thin edges will not work. (image 3)
- Verify that all part models will fit together as intended (if assemby will take place after printing). (Image 3)
- Verify that the part/s you are printing are no larger than 8" x 6" x 6", this is the maximum size that the printer can handle.
- Save .STL file/s into a folder, located in an easily accessible place. (image 4)
Step 4: Preparing the Printer
Now that you have a model which is ready to print, we will set up the printer itself.
- Get a fresh, unused model tray.
- Install this model tray by sliding the slots on the bottom into the metal grooves in the metal base. Push firmly the back. (Image 1)
- Flip both of the blue tabs up to lock the tray into place for printing. (Image 2)
Step 5: Using Catalyst
The program we'll be using to interface with the printer is 'Catalyst' (not to be confused with the AMD software for keeping drivers up to date). This software converts .stl files into 3d modeling print paths, so the printer can actually print the object. The software is fairly flexible, and allows you to orient and print multiple things at once, as well as get a 3d preview of the object you're printing.
- Double click Catalyst and open the program (image 1)
- Select the "General" tab at the top of the window
- Drag your .STL file into the display window, and drop the file anywhere in the black box (image 2)
- Now, choose the following options (Image 2):
- Print resolution of .0100"
- Sparse - High density
- 1 copy
- Proper STL units
- STL scale of 1
- Click auto orientation tab at the top right
- Click "Add to Pack" in the bottom right
- Click and drag the part you just added to a corner of the print tray
- Repeat steps 2 through 5 with your next part
- go back to the pack tab and drag the new part near the first one
- orient all parts in chronological order so that the parts print in a logical order
Step 6: Extracting the Print
Your 3d print is now complete, and ready to be removed from the printer! Unfortunately, all of your parts are still suspended in support material. In the next step, we'll go over exactly how to remove support base material, so your object will be ready for assembly (if assembly is required, that is).
- After the print is finished, open the door and remove the tray. Flip the blue tabs down and slide out the tray. (images 1-2)d
- Get out your tools (pick) and begin to manually take the parts off of the print tray. This can be done with your fingers, or the pick. Use leverage to pry the pieces off. Be careful not to damage your parts when taking them off of the tray and use caution so that you don't stab yourself with the pick! (images 3-7)
- End the printing job by pressing resume on the display screen, and the select part removed. (images 8-9)
- Dispose of the old tray and insert a fresh new one into the printer as previously instructed.
Step 7: Post Processing
After removing the parts from the print tray, there are a few final steps to follow before you have a presentable final model. The remaining support material must be removed before parts can be assembled. The most time effective way to remove material is by hand, using picks and other metal objects that allow you to get in hard to reach places. Be very careful when removing support material by hand, it can scratch, crack, and damage your parts, and will also put hands and fingers at risk of being poked and stabbed. After you have removed as much material as you can, the remaining can be dissolved by a caustic parts cleaner. The model of parts cleaner we use is ultrasonic and takes Sodium Hydroxide dissolved into distilled water to dissolve the soluble support material. Make sure to consult Stratasys when choosing your parts cleaner, and always follow instructions closely when using one. Also, wear protective gloves and goggles when using caustic solution.
Once your parts are clean, you may assemble the components. Some parts may require sanding or light modifications in order to allow for a perfect fit.
- Remove any remaining support material from the parts. This should be done with caution using the pick or any other useful tools. (Images 1-4)
- If any unwanted support material remains, that cannot be removed manually or will cause damage to the part, use a caustic cleaning bath to dissolve the soluble support material away from the model material. (Images 8-9)
- follow the manufacturers instructions closely when using the parts cleaner and use caution when working with caustic solutions.
- Assemble the cleaned parts once before you secure anything into place. It is very likely that parts will not fit together perfectly due to the imperfect print quality that the UPrint produces.
- Make necessary modifications such as sanding and grinding before you do your final assembly.
- Permanently fix parts together if desired. Ensure that any glues or bonding agents are intended for use with plastic.
- Admire and share your finished print with everyone! (images 5-7)