This tutorial will guide you through using the PolyPrinter 3D printer in the TinkerSpot center at the Arlington Public Library.
NOTE: You can generate stereo lithography (STL) files from any 3D drawing software you prefer (Ex. Tinkercad, Openscad, etc). If you already generated STL files from your 3D model, skip to “Now that you have an STL file section.”
Website: Thingiverse is available online through any web browser at www.thingiverse.com
Apps: You can use most features of Thingiverse through the iOS Thingiverse app the Android Thingiverse app, or the MakerBot Desktop App.
Logging in: You don’t need an account to view or download Things, but if you want to like, follow, collect, customize, upload, or use Groups and Messaging, then you’ll need to be signed in with a free MakerBot Thingiverse account. From thingiverse.com, click on “Sign In / Join” to get started.
Finding designs: From the top of the main Thingiverse page you can see “Featured Designs and Collections”. To find more designs, check out the “Explore tab” to view Things, Customizable Things, Categories, and Collections, or just use the Search field to find exactly what you’re looking for. Or browse through some excellent curated content with glitch pudding’s Collection of Collections.
Downloading designs: Once you locate a “Thing” you want, press “Download This Thing!” to see a list of the files that are available. Filetypes STL and OBJ are intended for 3D printing.
Go to the computer connected to the PolyPrinter. Here is a picture of the PolyPrinter:
Login to the machine using the username and password given to you from Library staff or your instructor. If you don’t know the login information, email email@example.com.
- To take out the old filament color, you will hold down the yellow knob to release the string of filament.
- Turn the spool and unhook it from the back of the 3-D printer.
- Hook the color filament you chose, pull the strand of the color up towards the blue hole, through the hole and the yellow circle.
- Press down the yellow knob to insert it, keep pressing down while inserting the filament into the hole until there is no more room.
- Open the program “Printer Interface” if it is not already open.
Warning: Do not touch the 3D printer or the bed when it is heating up!
- Start to heat up the printer right now by selecting “Set” on the “heater” and “bed” buttons.
- Set the “Bed” temperature to 110 and the “Heater” temperature to 230.
Open KISSlicer. This program will load in your STL files and generate “gcode” that tells the 3D printer how to build your part.
- Click the “Open” button in the top right
- Click “Slice” (this may also eliminate any errors generated while loading the STL file)
- You should see your model in a window. Delete any parts from the window that are not yours.
- This is the orientation that your part will build in on the 3D printer. You can reorient the part by right clicking the image in the right dialog and selecting “transform axes.”
- Re-orienting the part is important! It will determine the amount of support structures that need to be built and the strength of the part. As a general rule, the part is strongest when force is applied that compresses the layers, weakest when the force shears the layers.
- Load and reorient as many STL files as you need to build your model.
- Verify the amount of “infill” used for the part. You can select the amount of “infill” under “Style.” This determines how the inside of the part is filled with material. Selecting a higher percentage will make the part stronger, but also use more material.
- It is not recommend going lower than ~10%, though smaller parts can probably get away with smaller infill percentages.
- We do not recommend printing with 100% infill unless you really need the strength.
- Click “Save” from the top right corner to generate the gcode for the part. Remember where you save this gcode file.
Open “Printer Interface” if not already open.
- Load your model using the “load file” button. Navigate to where you saved the “Gcode” file from the previous step. This loads the commands that need to be sent to the 3D printer.
Warning: Do not touch the 3D printer or the bed when it is heating up or when it is running!
- Once the bed is up to the right temperature, click “Print” (if it’s not at the correct temperature, the printer will wait for it to heat up)
- Wait for the part to print
- When printing is completed, lift the lid and wait for the part to cool. It takes about about 2 minutes to cool if the lid is open
Warning: The bed that the part is sitting on is extremely hot!
- Pull the “bed” out and gently (but firmly) apply a shear force to pop the part(s) from the printer’s bed.
- Congratulations on your new 3D print! Please be sure the bed is clean and ready for the next person to use the printer.