3D Operating Procedures

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This page is here to guide users through the steps needed to print an existing 3D designed object on one of our printers. It assumes that you have a design ready to try, and that the design is represented by an STL file. I have made extensive use of screen captures: hopefully this will help users to know exactly what to do. The procedure may look complicated but in fact it is fairly smooth: once it is tried a couple of times you should not need this page!

By way of introduction; the steps are:

  1. turn a printer on;
  2. connect the 3D printer server to that printer;
  3. slice the object using Cura, saving the generated G-code file to somewhere you can find it;
  4. decide how you want the object printed (resolution, fill density);
  5. bring that file into the server;
  6. start the print;
  7. pay for your print.

We have implemented an instance of Repetier Server Pro 3D printer server to make it easier to control our three PrintrBot Simple Metal printers or any others which might be added later. And, the Cura engine has been set up to slice your object.

Step by step.

Power on

As stated, the first step is to turn one of the printers on. Seriously, turn on the one you intend to use before trying to connect.

Connect

To connect to the server, which can only be done within the Makerspace Nanaimo LAN, do the following. If you are on the PC closest to the 3D printers you should see the Repetier Server icon on the browser's bookmarks bar. If it isn't there (for instance if you are using your own laptop in the 'Space) then use the following link in a browser: 10.40.5.52:3344/#!/dashboard [1] (again, this will only work if you are at the space!). The browser's page should look like this:

3DserverCapture1.PNG

The login username is as shown and the password is the usual, both should be pre-filled if you use the workstation nearest the printers.

Once you are signed in, the screen should change to this:

Capture2.PNG

Green outlined sections indicate which printers are on. This should include the one you want to print on which you just turned on. In this case the original PrintrBot was turned on. (The naming of the printers might not seem obvious, so here's a little bit of history. We bought the first PrintrBot in the first year of the Space's existence, 2014, and at that time we were using an asset tracking system based on numbered labels: 1035 was the number for that printer, which was bought assembled, though we added the heated bed a short time later. The other two printers came along as kits a couple of years later and since they were twins we named them after two twins who were in the news at the time: Mark and Scott Kelly. Mark spent 340 days on the ISS ending March, 2016 so I expect that was about the time we (Ron and I) built the 2 kits.)

Back to the here and now: click on the Go to Printer arrow icon at the bottom of the appropriate green outlined section. That should bring up a new page with printer specific details. Looking at the top right of the printer's page, notice the icons for the two heaters: 3DserverCapture3.PNG. It is now best to start the heaters up, especially if you want to change the printer's filament. To start, simply click on each in turn and set a target temperature (60 for the bed and choose a preset PLA temperature for the extruder). Note that these temperatures are not final: the g-code sent to the printer during the run has the final say, but getting a start on the heat is a time saving step. The icons turn red and start reporting the rising temperatures, as seen in the next image.

3DserverCapture4.PNG

Slice

The next step is to tell the printer what to print. You may be printing some existing g code file or you may have an stl file to print. Assuming the later, you need to slice it into g code which is the language of CNC control, and which has been generated for the specific printer you are going to use. If you do have a g code file, please ensure that it was created (sliced) for the printer you are going to use. If this is not the case, harm could come to the printer.

3DserverCapture5.PNG

The best way to slice an STL file is to use the CURA program on one of the front room workstations which has already been set up to produce the correct g code. Since this is a program running on the PC, not an HTML file which runs in a browser, you do need to be at the machine to run it. Click on the program's icon on the Windows taskbar 3DserverCURA-start.PNG and you should see a window that looks like the one at the right. NOTE: Please do not succumb to the temptation to upgrade the program if the option is given: we have spent time to configure the settings and this can be undone if the program is updated.

Now “drag and drop” your STL file onto the platform area. It should automatically be centered on the platform and if all is good you are ready to slice. First, though you might want to choose how your 3D object is printed. The main consideration is how thick the layers are that are used to print. Several choices are made available. If you want to see what the implications are you may slice it with more than one setting and see how long the print will take. The settings available under each profile generally should not be touched. Sometimes, however, whether support material is generated or the amount of infill might need to be changed. If you are not sure it might be better to at least try the print, perhaps at a thick layer height: you can always abort the print if things look wrong.

3DserverCapture6.PNG
 

Choose the print characteristics

3DserverCapture8.PNG
MORE TO DO...
 

Give the file to the server

MORE TO DO...

Start the printer

3DserverCapture7.PNG

Pay

Please pay for your print. All are based on the weight of the filament that was used. You can either weigh the end object or, more simply, use Cura's calculation which is shown after slicing. Put the money in the food container in the desk drawer, please. There are three price levels:

  1. The normal member rate is 10¢ per gram.
  2. If you brought your own filament then we only expect half of the 10¢
  3. If you are printing an object for a non member and they are to pay (it is not a gift from yourself) then the rate is 20¢ per gram

Filament handling

MORE TO DO...