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3DP- Slicing

This chapter covers the process of converting your 3D model file into GCode ready for the 3D printing.  This is commonly known as “Slicing” because the 3D model file which are “vectors” (mathematical formulae) are turned into geometrical coordinates (x,y,z) layer by layer.  The layers are horizontal and are also called “slices” hence the term “Slicing” your 3D model into GCode.

You can use any open source or commercial 3D modelling and Slicing software with the MakerBoss 3DP as long as it produces standard GCode.

FIX HYPERLINK
Cura — security upload problem. exe
Cura — security upload problem. exe

We recommend and support Cura for “Slicing” which is open source.  This version of Cura has been in use for many years and is easy to use yet complex enough for tweaking your print settings.  It suits an educational environment well. There is a new version of Cura available but we have not started using this yet.

The biggest problem with 3D Printing is job adhesion and warping.  This usually relates to nozzle distance from print bed, bed temperature, nozzle restrictions or bed level issues.  Try this extensive 3D Print Troubleshooting guide for detailed hints.  These issues will be covered in subsequent chapters.

Slicing- CURA

This chapter covers the process of converting your 3D model file into GCode ready for 3D printing.  This is commonly known as “Slicing” because the 3D model file, which are “vectors” (mathematical formulae), are turned into geometrical coordinates (x,y,z) layer by layer.  The layers are horizontal and are also called “slices” hence the term “Slicing” your 3D model into GCode.  You can use any open source or commercial 3D modelling and Slicing software with the MakerBoss 3DP as long as it produces standard GCode.

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FIX HYPERLINKS \/

Cura — security upload problem. exe
Fast PLA Profile — forbidden/unknown website
Fast HIPS & ABS Profile — forbidden/unknown website

While installing Cura select “other” and just define the printer as “180 x 180”- that way when you use Cura the print bed in Cura will be the same size as the MakerBoss 3DP print bed i.e. 180mm x 180mm.  Please also make sure that the “heated bed” box is checked– otherwise Cura will not display a bed temperature dialogue box.

Once you have installed Cura you can load our Fast PLA Profile or Fast HIPS & ABS Profile (right click and “save link as”) into Cura via the “File” menu then “Open Profile”.  All the settings are adjusted for quick classroom prints and you can make adjustments from there.

Hovering over the input boxes in Cura brings help a help box that explains what that printing parameter does.  

Start&End GCode should be in the “Start/End-GCode” TAB of CURA:

You must have the following “start.gcode” in Cura: (in the “Start/End-GCode” Tab)

G21; set to mm

M375;  Load the bed compensation grid from sd card

G90  ;absolute positioning

M82 ;set extruder to absolute mode

G28  ;auto home

G92 E0 ;zero the extruded length

G1 F200 E10 ;extrude 10mm of feed stock

G92 E0 ;zero the extruded length again

You must have the following “end.gcode” in Cura (in the “Start/End-GCode” Tab):

M104 S0;extruder heater off

M140 S0;heated bed heater off (if you have it)

G91;relative positioning

G1 E-6 F300;retract the filament a bit before lifting the nozzle, to release some of the pressure

G28 ;home all axes

G0 Y170; move the bed forward

M84 ;steppers off

G90 ;absolute positioning

If you have not already setup “MakerBoss 3DP” as your “machine” during the Cura install process then goto the “Machine” menu and then “Add new machine”: the only data you need to change from default is a square build area of 180×180 and height of 200mm, 1 extruder, check the heated bed box, and Gcode flavour is RepRap(Marlin/Sprinter).  It should look like the settings below:

Preheating

It is extremely important to preheat both the extruder and bed to 10 degrees above your actual printing temperatures prior to starting the print.  It is best to cover the print bed with a cloth or other suitable insulator while pre-heating.  The printer has a heavy aluminium print bed so has a much higher thermal mass than regular 3D printers, which helps with warping and adhesion, but does require effective preheating.  This usually takes about ten minutes.

Use the printer “preheat” menu to heat both the bed and extruder to printing temp + 10 degrees prior to starting print job.

The extruder should also be checked for effective functioning by running a test extrude using the menu.

Filaments

Beginners should start with PLA (Polylactic Acid) filament as it’s easy to work with and very forgiving.  PLA has a lower supple point, doesn’t need much heat in the bed, doesn’t warp much and sticks easily to the bed.  However, PLA is brittle and doesn’t suit structural parts but is great for general prototyping. 

Once you have some skill and require a more impact resistant model, then HIPS (High Impact PolyStyrene) or ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is suggested.  HIPS and ABS have a higher supple point than PLA and will deform with impact rather than crack like PLA.  HIPS has similar structural characteristics to ABS but doesn’t warp as much as ABS during printing and is much easier to achieve successful prints than ABS.  ABS is much harder to work with as it warps during the print process and doesn’t stick to the bed as easily and requires higher print temperatures both in the extrusion nozzle and print bed.  ABS is not recommended for beginners but is relatively easy for attentive educators and students to master but requires more precise fine tuning of print parameters.

MakerBoss 3DP has a high quality all stainless steel heat tube with a wrap around heating element that provides more uniform heat distribution to the filament.  Additionally MakerBoss 3DP uses a thermocouple temperature sensor in the extruder which is stable for temperatures above 300 degrees celsius unlike normally used thermistors that start to breakdown at about 275 degrees Celsius.  Our all stainless steel hot end with thermocouple temperature sensor means that you can confidently extrude the many speciality filaments which often require temperatures above 275 degrees Celsius which is usually the limit of normal 3D printers.  

FIX HYPERLINKS
Hobbyking.com — forbidden/unknown web address
Hobbyking.com — forbidden/unknown web address

An inexpensive source of good quality filament is available from Hobbyking.com (ex Sydney) with modest shipping costs.  When ordering just make sure that you have selected the Australian warehouse and you have 1.75mm filament not 3mm.  A huge advantage of the MakerBoss 3DP is that consumables are cheap.  We do not sell filament at inflated prices (we don’t sell it at all).  You can get good quality PLA and ABS for about AUS $25 per 1Kg from Hobbyking.com (ex Sydney) with modest shipping costs.  Many 3D printer manufacturers and retailers are pushing “cartridge” type 3D printers because they will make double the purchase price from cartridge filament sales- typically cartridge filament costs about $40 to $80 per 1/2Kg cartridge which is $80-$160 per 1Kg of filament.  A 3D printer in a school might consume about  1 to 5Kg per Term or 5 to 20Kg per year. So a school 3D printer might use about 10Kg per year which is only about $250 in filament for the MakerBoss 3DP but at least $1000 in filament cost for the cartridge system or name brand filament.

TinkerCAD’s Filament Guide  

Filament Special Properties Uses Stre-
ngth
Flexi-
bility
Dura-
bility
Print 
Skills
Print 
Temp. 
(˚C)
Bed
Temp.
(˚C)
PLA Easy to Print, Biodegradable Consumer Products ★★ ★★ 180 – 230 No
ABS Durable, Impact Resistant Functional Parts ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★ 210 – 250 50 – 100
PETG (XT, N‑Vent) Flexible, Durable All-Rounder ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★ 220 – 235 No
Nylon Strong, Flexible, Durable All-Rounder ★★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★ 220 – 260 50 – 100
Flexible, TPE, TPU Extremely Flexible, Rubber-Like Elastic Parts,
Wearables
★★★ ★★ ★★★ 225 – 235 No
Wood Wood Finish Home Decor ★★ ★★ ★★ ★★ 195 – 220 No
HIPS Disolvable, Biodegradable ABS Dual Extrusion, Support Structures ★★ ★★★ ★★ 210 – 250 50 – 100
PVA Disolvable, Water Soluble, Biodegradable, Oil Resistant PLA/ABS Dual Extrusion, Support Structures ★★★ ★★ 180 – 230 No
PET (CEP) Strong, Flexible, Durable, Recyclable All-Rounder ★★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★ 220 – 250 No
Metal Metal Finish Jewelry ★★ ★★★ ★★★ 195 – 220 No
Carbon Fiber Rigid, Stronger Than Pure PLA Functional Parts ★★ ★★★ ★★ 195 – 220 No
Lignin (bioFila) Biodegradable Looks and feels cool
Stronger than PLA
★★ ★★ 190 – 225 55
PC Polycarbonate Strongest, Flexible, Durable, Transparent, Heat Resistant Functional Parts ★★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★ 270 – 310 90 – 105
Conductive Conductive Electronics ★★ ★★ 215 – 230 No
Wax (MOLDLAY) Melts Away Lost Wax Casting 170 – 180 No
PETT (T‑Glase) Strong, Flexible, Transparent, Clear Functional Parts ★★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★ 235 – 240 No
ASA Rigid, Durable, Weather Resistant Outdoor ★★ ★★★ ★★ 240 – 260 100 – 120
PP Flexible, Chemical Resistance Flexible Components ★★ ★★★ ★★ ★★★ 210 – 230 120 – 150
POM, Acetal Strong, Rigid, Low Friction, Resilient Functional Parts ★★★ ★★ ★★★ 210 – 225 130
PMMA, Acrylic Rigid, Durable, Transparent, Clear, Impact Resistant Light diffusers ★★ ★★★ ★★ 235 – 250 100 -120
Sandstone (LAYBRICK) Sandstone Finish Architecture ★★ 165 – 210 No
Glow-In-The-Dark Luminous, Flourescent For Fun ★★ ★★ ★★ 215 No
Cleaning Cleaning Unclogging of Nozzles N/A N/A N/A 150 – 260 No
PC/ABS Rigid, Durable, Impact Resistant, Resilient, Deflecting Heat Functional Parts ★★ ★★★ ★★★ 260 – 280 120
Magnetic Magnetic For Fun ★★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ 195 – 220 No
Color Changing Changes Color For Fun ★★ ★★ ★★ 215 No
nGen Like PETG, but Easier to Print, Heat Resistant, Transparent All-Rounder ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★ 210 – 240 60
TPC Extremely Flexible, Rubber-Like, Chemical-/ Heat-/ 
UV Resistant
Elastic Parts,
Outdoor
★★★ ★★ ★★★ 210 60 – 100
PORO-LAY Partially Water Soluble For Fun, Experimental ★★★ ★★ 220 – 235 No
FPE Flexible Flexible Parts ★★★ ★★★ ★★ 205 – 250 75

Bed Adhesion

Prints warping, lifting and not sticking properly to the bed can be an issue with 3D printing.  Normally, 3D printers blast down a huge “raft” that essentially pints a preparatory base that the actual print job sits on but this is time consuming, wasteful and causes a lot of issues with separating the job from the raft.

Ed3DP has designed out the need for a “raft” with a bed calibration routine using an inductance sensor that stores a contour map of the print bed and adjusts the height as it prints to compensate so that the nozzle is always precisely at the correct height.

PLA will require some water based glue stick applied to the Aluminum bed before each print.  “UHU” brand is best as it is very moist and stays sticky for a long time while the first layer is printed.  Other brands are too dry and turn into “rice paper” upon application and the print doesn’t stick.  “Bostik” aslo works satisfactorily but “UHU” is superior.  Just clean the bed occasionally with scraper or stainless scourer pad and water.  The bed is best left a bit “dirty” rather than perfectly clean as this actually aids print adhesion.

FIX HYPERLINK
printing “ecosolvent” — forbidden/unknown website

Filaments other than PLA – HIPS, ABS & Nylon etc will require a small application of either Hairspray or “Filament Juice” which is the filament dissolved in solvent.  The solvent is commonly acetone, however, a far superior solvent is printing “ecosolvent” which is also a ketone but with a much higher boiling point and lower vapour pressure so it doesn’t evaporate quickly like common acetone.  Simply get a sauce bottle and cut up pieces of HIPS/ABS and put in the bottle and top up with ecosolvent (or acetone) and let sit for a week with shaking.  Make an applicator with a paint brush and plastic bag and rubber band and brush onto the hot bed just before the print starts.  Clean the bed occasionally with a scrapper or stainless steel scourer with some ecosolvent and paper towel.  Leave the bed a bit dirty as this aids adhesion.

3DP FAQ