PRINTING BASICS

Once the design file is loaded into software, prints can be started in two ways.  The print can run directly from computer using “Print with USB” function, or run from the SD card by saving the GCode onto SD card and print the file from the printer menu.

Printing with USB requires an active connection with the computer at all times. The computer needs to be set to never fall asleep or auto-shutdown when making long prints. Printing from SD card does not require a computer connection and is therefore more reliable. Using SD printing also allows for control over the print via the TUNING menu on the printer, settings which are locked by the PC software if printing via USB. On-The-Fly tuning is not available while printing via USB, although your print software may allow similar adjustments from the software interface.

SD CARD PRINTING

Step 1:   Import the .stl, .obj, or other file type for the object you wish to print into the software and adjust desired settings accordingly

Step 2:   Insert the included USB/SD combination card into the USB port of your computer

Step 3:   Once the USB/SD is inserted into your computer, select the option to Save GCode. This will save a .gcode file onto the SD card with the original filename from the imported part (“part1.stl” gets saved as “part1.gcode”)

Step 4:   Eject the SD card using the proper method from Windows or MacOS, and insert the card into the front slot of the MAKEiT machine

Step 5:   Press down on the control dial to open the SETUP menu. Turn the control dial to highlight SD PRINTING, and press down on the control dial to select

Step 6:   A list of files contained on the SD card will appear; the most recently saved file should appear at the top of the list. Use the control dial to highlight and select the desired file. After selecting the file, the printer will heat up to the preset temperatures and the print will start.

USB PRINTING

While printing from a PC with the USB, it is important to make sure the computer’s “Sleep” or “Power Saver” settings are set such that the computer will not power down, sleep, or hibernate during the print. Otherwise, the connection will be lost and the print will fail.

Cura

Plug in provided USB cable to USB port located on the back of the printer; connect other end of USB cable to computer.

In Cura, click “Machine” on the top row to drop down the machine menu.

Select “Machine Settings”

Under “Communication Settings” select the “Serial Port” drop down

Select COM’X’ where ‘X’ is a value of the computer’s COM port.

Press OK to save settings

Import the .stl, .obj, or other file type for the object you wish to print into the software and adjust desired settings accordingly

Select the “Print with USB” option on your slicing software. The printer will heat up and begin printing.

MatterControl

Plug in provided USB cable to USB port located on the back of the printer; connect other end of USB cable to computer.

In MatterControl, press the ‘Pencil’ edit symbol next to the printer name

Select the Serial Port drop down and SELECT  COM’X’ where ‘X’ is a value of your computer’s COM port.

Press Done to Save Settings

Press CONNECT to establish the link to the printer

Import the .stl, .obj, or other file type for the object you wish to print into the software and adjust desired settings accordingly

Select the “Print with USB” option on your slicing software. The printer will heat up and begin printing.

ADVANCED PRINT WITH DUAL-NOZZLES

The capabilities of dual nozzles gives the option to use the printer a number of different ways: duplication of parts using two rolls of the same material, production of parts with two color patterns using two different colors of the same material, production of parts with two materials for different properties in the same part, or a secondary support material (such as HIPS support for ABS).

Double-check both nozzles are properly loaded with the desired filaments. Note that different colored filaments even within the same family of plastics may require different extrusion temperatures ranging as much as 40°C. It is wise to test first with a single nozzle to find out the best extrusion temperatures for the particular filaments before doing dual color or dual material prints.

ONE MODEL IN TWO COLORS OR MATERIALS (CURA SOFTWARE EXAMPLE)

Export the design files:  When preparing an object for printing with two colors or two different materials, design it in CAD software as a single file with two separate bodies. From the single file, export the different color/material as separate .STL files. For example, we have a two-color blue and red object (one CAD file). From our CAD software we will save/export the red portion as “RedPart.STL”, and blue portion as “BluePart.STL”. If these two separate .STL files are exported from the same CAD file, Cura will be able to properly realign them. Please see our Two Materials Assembly video on Youtube for more information on setting up the file for 3D printing.

Load .STL Files And Designate materials: Properly designate materials for the two different parts: The .STL file that is loaded first will be printed from Nozzle 1, the file loaded second will be printed from Nozzle 2. In Cura 2.4 and Simplify3D, each part can be assigned to a nozzle with the “per model settings”

Dual Extrusion Merge: Once the “BluePart.STL” and “RedPart. STL” are loaded in, right click on either item to bring up a dialogue window. Select “Dual Extrusion Merge”. The two models should merge automatically back to their orientation from the original design in the CAD file. The object in Cura is now shown in two different colors. Please see our Cura Two-Material Print video on Youtube for more information on slicing for two materials in Cura. Please reference our Two-Material Printing in MatterControl video on Youtube for more information on setting up two material prints in MatterControl

Optimize settings for dual extrusion printing: set the second nozzle for the temperature optimized for the second filament. If you need to use support, set the Support Dual Extrusion for the nozzle that will be used for support material.

For more information using Cura, please see our Cura Two-Material Print video on Youtube.

For more information using MatterControl, please reference our Two-Material Printing in MatterControl video on Youtube.

For more information using Simplify3D, please reference our Two-Material Prints with Simplify3D blog article.

DIGITAL BATCH PRODUCTION (CURA SOFTWARE EXAMPLE)

It is usually rare to use a 3D printer for quantity production of end-use parts due to the slow speed and lack of precision that plagued early 3D printers.  However, the unique features of the MAKEiT printer, such as quality surface finish on parts, a wide choice of compatible materials, and a standard dual nozzle, production in batches of meaningful quantity and uncompromising quality is possible. Here is an example shown below. We at MAKEiT frequently use the MAKEiT printers to produce multiple parts in once.

“Duplication Mode” enables the time-effective printing of batch parts. The second nozzle will create a second part at the same time as nozzle 1. The limiting factor for duplication is that the copied item’s width must be less than 48mm (due to the fact that the distance between two nozzles is 50mm).

Batch printing setup starts in the slicing software.  The safest way to print is from front row to back row. The Tool Path display is  very good to check first before we hit the print/save button. The Tool Path shows us in detail where and how our nozzles extrude filaments. Below is a step-by-step instruction for duplication, using a printer part example.

For additional information on preparing your printer for batch production, please reference our Batch Printing Basics blog article.

PREPARING ITEMS FOR DUPLICATION

Step 1:   Load the .STL file into Cura.

Step 2:   Multiply the array to fill the bed from front to back. Right-click on any object to bring up a popup window. Choose “Multiply object” and input the number of rows desired.

Step 3:   Arranging Columns: If using a single nozzle, and not using duplication mode, move to the next step. If using duplication mode, you will see columns of parts and “invisible” columns where parts were deleted to allow nozzle 2 to duplicate. The row needs to be aligned so that there is enough room for the far right “invisible” column to have the 50mm of room required to print.

Step 4:   Enable the “Print one at a time” command. This will set the printer to finish the first front row (which we actually loaded as one part) before moving to the next row.

Step 5:   Save the GCode to the SD card and follow instructions below to turn duplication mode on at the printer. If not using duplication mode, print the file normally.

MANUAL DUPLICATION OPTION (SD CARD EXAMPLE)

Step 1:   Insert SD card with print file into the printer.

Step 2:   On the printer, bring up the SETUP menu by pressing down on the control dial, and select DUPLICATION. (You will see “ON” displayed indicating duplication is enabled)

Step 3:   Select SD printing and locate the desired file utilizing the control dial.

Step 4:   Press down on the control dial to select the particular file. The print will start once the printer is warmed up.

With DUPLICATION set to “ON”, the second nozzle will get the same GCode instructions as nozzle 1.

ON-THE-FLY TUNING DURING SD PRINT

There may be a case where we have to change print settings for either the nozzle, bed, or both on a print that is already sliced.. Perhaps while testing a new filament, it requires a significantly different temperature than we previously set. In this case, we don’t need to go back to the slicer and resave the file. Instead, use the existing .gcode file on the SD card, and use the TUNING MENU to change nozzle/bed temperature immediately after we have started the print.

*On-The-Fly tuning can only be used while printing from an SD Card (Not USB). Tuning must be done after the print file has been started.

Slicing parts for 3D printing requires that you set input variables such as speed, temperature, infill, flow rate, etc, before it can “slice” the STL to produce the GCode for the MAKEiT printer to print the file.  Once the print job is sliced and transformed into GCode, all of these values are fixed and cannot be changed unless the file is resliced with new settings.

To have a better printing experience, our MAKEiT printer provides a series of on-the-fly adjustment functions, that allow the correction or fine tuning of the values we set earlier in the print software. At any time during a print,  rotate the control dial in either direction to access the TUNE menu. Any changes made here happen in real-time for the current print. Make adjustments in key areas such as fan speed, print speed, nozzle temperature, bed temperature, flow rate, and nozzle height, without the need to reslice the print.

*It is important to note, starting a new print will override any changes to our tuning settings. If we wish to adjust settings for a print that is already stored on the SD card, we must start the print first and change settings after the display reads “MAKEiT Pro Heating”.

Setting up prints with the “brim” or “skirt” feature will allow you to check the nozzle distance before your part starts. The brim or skirt is printed first before the real object. Use them to see how the first layers are extruded, then easily adjust the nozzle distance accordingly before the actual part starts printing.

Please refer to our Tuning Menu descriptions for more detailed descriptions of how to navigate the menus.

EXAMPLES OF TUNING FEATURES:

Nozzle Temp: Each nozzles’ temperature can be adjusted individually. Use this to fine tune print temperature. The temperature may be too high if you see poor overhang performance, drooping features, or excess blobs of material. The temperature may be too low if you notice layers not bonding properly or extruding too thin.

Bed Temp: Increase the bed temperature if the first layer print does not stick well. We suggest increasing the bed temp in 5°C increments. If the object has small contact area, raise bed temp a little higher; if object has large contact area, bring the temp down a little for easier removal once the print is finished.

Fan Speed: The fan is critical for cooling small components. For parts printed in temperature sensitive materials, such as ABS, fine tuning of the fan speed may be required. For PLA printing it is recommended to always run the fan speed to max.

Printing Speed: Printing speed can be increased or decreased depending on your needs. Increasing speed too much can also have a negative impact on print quality. Slowing down the printing speed can help with a finer, higher quality part. It should be noted that all speed settings for the print are changed. Be careful not to increase speed too high as it can cause the retraction to grind the filament.

Flow Rate: Flow rate controls how much filament is extruded and is extremely import for a successful print. When too much filament is extruded within certain time, we will notice things like bulging area, bubbles, droplets, or extra grooves. If too little filament is extruded, the outer walls can be too thin, the infill may not properly connect with the walls, gaps may be found between each layer, or yet other defects. Being able to adjust the flow rate on-the-fly, we can correct or reinforce our print.

Nozzle Distance: In addition to the nozzle calibration at the setup time, the nozzle height can be fine tuned at any time when by selecting “Nozzle distance” at “TUNE” menu. This feature enables us to double-check for proper nozzle distance at the beginning of a print to ensure a good solid first layer foundation.

AUTO-SHUTDOWN

By Default, the MAKEIT slicer profiles include an auto-shutdown after the part completes. This is convenient for overnight prints to save on energy consumption. If you wish to change this feature to leave the printer on after parts finish, you can change the end Gcode in your slicing software to remove code M81.