Mak­ing a 3D print

Here’s how you print your first 3D model…

Mac Format - - GET INTO 3D PRINTING -

1 Find a model

We’ve been us­ing the Ul­ti­maker 2 and hav­ing won mul­ti­ple awards, it’s a great ma­chine for new­com­ers. How­ever, de­spite Ul­ti­maker’s own model repos­i­tory youmagine. com be­ing a great place to find free mod­els, Mak­erBot’s thin­gi­verse.com has a much broader se­lec­tion. We’ve cho­sen this spi­ral vase (thin­gi­verse.com/thing:481259), and we’ll be us­ing col­orFabb’s flu­o­res­cent green fil­a­ment (col­orfabb.com/flu­o­res­cent-green).

2 Down­load the file

To down­load 3D files from the Thin­gi­verse web­site you need to first click the icon ti­tled Thing Files that’s shown on each model’s page, and then se­lect Down­load All Files. Once you’ve got the files on your Mac, you need to open your slicer soft­ware of choice (for us it’ll be Ul­ti­maker’s ex­cel­lent Cura app) and open the STL file you down­loaded from thin­gi­verse.com. Typ­i­cally, 3D print files are ac­tu­ally quite small at just a few megabytes.

3Open your STL file

Now you need to open your STL file in your slicer app (as we men­tioned, we’re us­ing Cura). You will now see your model, ren­dered vir­tu­ally, within a three-di­men­sional can­vas. You can zoom in on your model, change scale, or pan around it to check de­tail. And our de­fault view en­ables us to choose pre­s­e­lected set­tings for four qual­ity lev­els. No­tice that you’ll get an ac­cu­rate time for print­ing the model at the top of Cura’s in­ter­face.

4 Check scale

The first thing we’re go­ing to do is re­duce the scale a lit­tle. An 11-hour print is a bit much for our first out­ing, so we’re go­ing to scale things down to 70% – still a seven-hour print! To do this you first click on your model, and then se­lect the ‘Scale’ icon at the bot­tom of the Cura in­ter­face. In the win­dow that pops up, type 0.7 into one of the fields, and it will au­to­mat­i­cally copy into the oth­ers, en­sur­ing that your model’s ra­tio is main­tained.

5 Fine-tune set­tings

Now let’s jump into ex­pert view, by se­lect­ing Ex­pert > ‘Switch to full set­tings’ from the menu. You’ll now see more set­tings on the left. At the top is ‘Layer height’, which is the most im­por­tant set­ting to know (as it de­ter­mines the qual­ity of your print). The Ul­ti­maker 2 can print from 0.06mm to 0.25mm, but, gen­er­ally speak­ing, 0.1 is fine for most prints. Experiment with these set­tings though, as small ad­just­ments can of­ten save you a lot of time.

6 Save and print

You can leave other set­tings at their de­faults (though ex­per­i­ment­ing is part of the fun), but make sure the ‘sup­port type’ is set to ‘Touch­ing build­plate’. This means you’ll get a 3D print ver­sion of scaf­fold­ing around your model, for ar­eas that over­hang. Once you’re done, go to File > Save GCode and, for use in an Ul­ti­maker, save it to an SD card, which you then in­sert into your printer. Depend­ing on the ob­ject it can take many hours to com­plete.

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