Using the 3d Printers

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Once you have a 3d model that is ready to print (saved as an ".stl" output file), the next step is to translate it into a set of instructions for the 3d printer. Each printer will only work with instructions set to its specific machine language (.gcode), and to generate the instructions we need to use "slicing" software. The slicing software that we recommend for using both the Taz 5 and Ultimaker 2 is called Cura, but note that each type of 3d printer has its own version of Cura and using the correct version will often result in fewer problems with your print.

Get Started

1. Open the version of Cura that corresponds to the printer you would like to use. When open it will show an empty print bed with a list of options on the side of the screen.

2. To bring your model into Cura, you can either selecting the "Load Model" option or simply drag your .stl file onto the empty print bed.

3. You can re-arrange your object on the print bed by selecting it (clicking on the object) and then choosing the "Rotate" option. Click on one of the three axes and rotate your object so that it rests flat on the print bed.

4. If you'd like to scale your object's size, select and choose the "Scale" option. It is a good idea to keep your dimensions locked when scaling, so that its proportions aren't allowed to change.

5. next you can start setting your basic options:

  • Layer Height (mm) - Recommended between 0.38 and 0.06 mm. This is essentially the quality of the print, smaller layer heights will result in a higher "resolution" print but will also make the print take much longer to finish. Note that the Ultimaker 2 is higher resolution printer than the Taz 5, which cannot have a layer thickness less than 0.15.
  • Shell Thickness (mm) - Recommended 1 mm. This is the thickness of the outer shell of your object.
  • Enable Retraction - ON.
  • Bottom/Top Thickness (mm) - Recommended = 4 x "Layer Height". We usually recommend about 4 layers to be printed on the bottom and top in order to create a stable print, however if your layer height is small you may want to consider adding more layers.
  • Fill Density (%) - Recommended 20%. This describes how much material will be used inside the solid shell of your print. 100% is a completely solid print, but that is rarely necessary and your print will finish much faster if you lower the fill density to about 20%.
  • Perimeters before infill - ON.
  • Print Speed (mm/s) - Recommended 50 mm/s.
  • Printing Temperature (C) - Recommended 215 or 230 C. This depends on the material being used, PLA prints at 215 C while ABS prints at 230 C.
  • Bed Temperature (C) - Recommended 60 C or 110 C. Again depending on the material, PLA should be at 60 C while ABS should be at 110 C.
  • Support Type - Recommended "Everywhere" or "None". If your model is designed to not need support select "none", otherwise allow Cura to place support wherever it decides you will need it.