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Onboard File Preparation (i.e. Slicing) with the MakerGear M3

Requirements:

  • Time - 15-20 minutes
  • Hardware - MakerGear M3-SE or M3-ID 3D printer.
  • Software - OctoPrint for MakerGear.

Contents:

  • Common 3D file formats.
  • How to convert a 3D model into a 3D-printable format using OctoPrint's CurEngine Plugin.
  • Choosing your print settings from a menu of pre-configured profiles.
  • Utilizing print quality and speed shortcuts.
  • How to preview your project using the gCode viewer.

Please complete the following tasks before reading this article:

  • Follow all "Getting Started" instructions listed in your User Guide.
  • Follow all configuration, connection, and login instructions to access your M3's control interface.
  • Heat the MakerGear M3 extruder to the target temperature range for your chosen material (200-215 °C for PLA, 240-255 °C for ABS).

Introduction

Printing an object starts with designing or downloading a 3D model, applying a set of mechanical specifications, and producing instructions that control your printer as it recreates your 3D model.

3d models are stored in a variety of formats. The most easily shared format is .stl, or STL files. STL files only contain a set of polygons that define the surfaces of the model, and include no information about how to build that model. To create instructions for your 3D printer to recreate a 3D model, it needs to be sliced into layers according to a set of rules. There are a variety of software solutions for this process and one of them, the CuraEngine plugin, is already installed on your MakerGear M3.

About STL Files

STLs are commonly shared on the internet in a variety of websites, such as Thingiverse.com. You'll notice a very familiar 3D model at the following link: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:763622

Most models downloaded from the internet will be compressed as a .zip file. You'll need to decompress .zip files by opening them.

Using the CuraEngine Plugin

The CuraEngine plugin for OctoPrint allows you to define a few aspects of your 3D model’s structure as well as the temperatures at which the printer’s heated components will operate. Settings like the thickness of the perimeter, the amount of material used for the internal structure and the speed at which it was printed are most important elements of the profile. The “profile” that you used to slice the 3D Benchy model during the MakerGear Setup process contained specific settings that produce reliable results when printing that model using the included MakerGear PLA, so keep in mind that changes to your profile, model, or material will likely result in changes to the properties and appearance of a 3D-printed object.

You can find a more profiles for various materials and settings intended for specific types of prints by visiting the MakerGear forum. To create your own profile variations, you’ll need to install Cura 15.04 (specific version). Some materials cannot be printed as quickly as others, but most can be printed slowly. Generic profiles with no set temperatures exist so you can more easily experiment with other materials by manually setting temperatures before printing.

To get started 

1 - First upload your .stl file directly to OctoPrint; you can click the "Upload" button in your "Files" menu and then select the file, or simply drag and drop the file into your "Files" menu.

KB_images.png

2 - Load your selected filament into the extruder.

KB_images__1_.png

3 - Slice your 3D model by clicking the magic wand icon on the right of the File listing for your model (in this case, "3DBenchy.stl").

KB_images__2_.png

4 - Select the material profile that matches the loaded filament and the other options you desire (infill, speed, quality, etc).

KB_images__3_.png

5 -  Select the preferred post-slicing behavior (e.g. "begin printing", "select for printing", or "do nothing") 

KB_images__4_.png

* To enable Auto-Prep mode, navigate to CuraEngine section of the Plugin Manager and check either "select for printing" or "begin printing" for post-slicing behavior.

Once slicing is complete, use the GCode viewer to preview your print.

Though simplistic and two-dimensional, the GCode Viewer tab that’s built into OctoPrint offers an easy, effective way to quickly preview GCode files before printing them. Let’s take a look at the 3D Benchy model that you sliced during the MakerGear Setup process. Use the slider on the right side of the view panel to visualize a cross-section of your model at different layers.

Screenshot-10.png

Black lines represent deposited material, while green lines show travel moves (i.e. eprint head movements during which no material is deposited. The red and blue dots represent filament that will be retracted or advanced to relieve or regain pressure in the print head’s hot end.

If the preview looks ok, start printing using the big blue "Print" button. If you identify an issue, try adjusting corresponding settings or slicing the 3D model with a different profile. If the orientation of the model needs to be changed, jump ahead to our article on using OctoPrint for Plating and Slicing.

Quality and Speed Overrides

After printing has begun, you can even use the settings overrides in the Control panel to make last-minute adjustments related to things like speed, resolution, and temperatures.  

Screenshot-7.png

Once the print finishes and the bed cools down, you should be able to easily remove the print from the glass build plate.

Related Categories

OctoPrint for MakerGear software

Simplify3D® software

MakerGear M3-SE 3D Printer

MakerGear M3-ID 3D Printer

 

Can't find what you're looking for?

As a customer of MakerGear, you can always get direct assistance from our Technical Support team.

 

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