Category Archives: Tutorials

3D printed vortex generator

The First Layer: Concealed Layer Start Points

When you’re trying to get the best quality possible out of your 3D printed parts, there are some obvious choices for how to setup the print. Finer layer heights and lower speeds can improve finish and accuracy, but is that all there is for improving quality in your printed parts? One subtle yet very effective way of improving the uniformity of your surfaces is by controlling your layer start points.

With the sole exception of printing using the “spiral vase” method, every time your printer starts a new layer it leaves behind a tell-tale mark caused by the motion path of the nozzle. It’s possible to minimize these marks through optimization but they won’t ever go away entirely. One nice benefit of using Simplify3D is the added ability to plan your layer start points. When done effectively the small marks can be concealed within geometry that makes it impossible to notice. Can you see the layer start points in the first photo above? What about the zoomed in version below?

3D printed vortex generator

If you look carefully along the bottom edge of the part you’ll notice all of the layer start points are consolidated along the edge where it rolls over. By placing your start points along a specific geometric feature, it’s possible to create very controllable “seams” that diminish into your design. Keep reading below and I’ll show how you can use planned layer seams to improve your printed parts! Continue reading

Two Material Prints with Simplify3D

Before you can setup a two-material print in Simplify3D you will need CAD files properly setup for two-material printing. For information on properly exporting files, please see the video Preparing an Assembly for 3D Printing In Two Materials on our YouTube channel.

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First, import the two files that comprise both parts of our two-material print. In this case, I have chosen a custom variation of the MAKEiT extruder head fan cover.

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With our two files imported and selected, choose Align Selected Model Origins from the Edit drop-down menu. Now we see the two parts aligned and centered.

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With our two parts aligned properly, it’s now time to setup the print processes to switch between the two extruders. Below I have chosen a profile I call “Basic Prints”. Below you can see where Extruder 1 is selected in the process settings for Layer tab:

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Additions tab:

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And Infill tab:

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Leave this first profile set to utilize Extruder 1, but before closing the Profile Settings click on Select Models from the bottom of the window. From this dialog, make sure only the part that is meant to print from Extruder 1 is highlighted.

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Next we need to setup a second process for printing with the second extruder. Create a second copy of your process by selecting it from your Processes tree, then pressing Ctrl+C to copy and Ctrl+V to paste, (Command+C and Command+V on Mac). Below I have copied my Basic Prints process, and renamed the resulting copy Basic Prints N2 to indicate Nozzle 2.

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Now we need to go through the settings for this new process and switch the chosen extruder to Extruder 2 for all relevant options in Layer, Additions, and Infill tabs:

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With our new process ready to print from Extruder 2, once again click Select Models and highlight the part that is meant for material 2.

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Before we finally send our file to print, it’s important to make note of the Tool Change Retraction options from the Advanced tab. These values will change depending on what material we use and how often the tool changes are. For example, a flexible material might require a much longer retraction at lower speeds to keep from leaking, compared with ABS which might only need a very short retraction and can withstand higher speeds. This setting is very specific to our specific material choice, so some testing might be necessary.

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With our processes set up, click Prepare to Print. From the selection dialog, make sure only our desired two processes are selected and Continuous Printing is checked.

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With the S3D display window color coded by Active Toolhead we can see how the two materials will print together. You can see for this print I have chosen only to print the Prime Tower with Extruder 2. This is because the first layers of the part Extruder 2 would otherwise not print anything and would cause the material to burn in the nozzle. As I have set this print, the second extruder will print some extra filament each layer to prevent burn-in.

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This tutorial is just a guideline for how to setup two different materials to print together. There are many other tricks and settings that can be adjusted to improve results based on your specific part design and material choice, so testing is important.

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