Academy
From theoretical knowledge to high-level tips and tricks on using your Snapmaker, here is everything you need on your way to mastery of creating.
3D Printing
  • Print Sheet Maintenance: Useful Tips You Should Know

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    Hello, Maker!

    As known to all, initial layer adhesion is critical for FFF 3D printing, on which we would spend a lot of effort, such as tuning the slicing parameters or using various tools. That’s also why Snapmaker specially designed a detail-rich print sheet to minimize the troubles. Now, let’s take a look at this product and learn some basic daily maintenance and cleaning skills.___.png

    Design & Material

    The print sheet of the Snapmaker 2.0 machines consists of two parts: the steel plate and surface stickers on both sides.

    The steel plate is made of carbon steel with high toughness and strength. Though the print sheet can be bent slightly, it will immediately return to its original flatness once the force is stopped, thus ensuring that the entire printing platform can always be kept flat during printing. At the same time, its magnetic design also provides great convenience for removing prints and replacing the print sheet.

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    Although not fixed with screws, the strong magnetic attraction between the print sheet and the heated bed helps them stick firmly together. Without intended human force (which must be very strong, actually), the print sheet will not move during printing.

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    The sticker of the print sheet is made of polymer materials, of which the surface is specially processed to further improve the adhesion effect of the initial layer. Though named as “sticker”, it is highly flame-retardant, oxidation-resistant, as well as heat-resistant. 

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    Thanks to its material properties, the print sheet sticker can effectively accelerate the cooling process of the extruded filament when the initial layer is printed, making it adhere to the print sheet faster and better, and also reducing the possibility of wrapping. Internal tests have shown that our specially designed sticker can effectively improve the initial layer adhesion of a wider variety of filaments, compared with the Polyetherimide (PEI) stickers or coatings used in many other printing platforms.

    Moreover, the print sheet of Snapmaker 2.0 has stickers on both sides. This not only ensures the flatness of the steel plate when heated, but also increases the utilization of the print sheet. You can switch the front and back sides at will to use, thus reducing the frequency of replacement.

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    How to Avoid Print Sheet “Injuries“

    Traces or marks may be left on the print sheet due to various reasons over repetitive use. If not handled in time, they can affect the printing quality. For example, filament residues on the print sheet may negatively impact the initial layer adhesion in the next printing. What’s more, if filaments of different colors are used over two successive printings, the bottom of the latter print is likely to be branded with an undesirable “gift” from the former print, as shown below.

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    Also, dented traces pressed out by the nozzle on the print sheet may leave some “3D tattoo” on your future prints.

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    Some of these traces are reversible and can be erased by later cleaning, while others are permanent. Therefore, before we proceed to cleaning methods, let’s go over some preventive measures and precautions that can help you avoid such “injuries” to the print sheet.

    1. Don’t set the Z height too low.
      Many Makers, including myself, tend to set the Z height as low as possible during the heated bed leveling or after the printing starts, so as to reduce potential problems that can happen to the initial layer adhesion. However, the nozzle can easily leave dents on the print sheet in doing so. At the same time, the extruding of filament may be hindered or even stopped if the nozzle is too close to the print sheet, which could give rise to discontinuous lines, uneven surfaces of the printed object, or even nozzle jams. A failed printing process can be restarted, a jammed nozzle can be cleaned, but the dent left on the print sheet is irreversible. What’s more, an excessively low Z height may cause the filament to stick too much to the print sheet, bringing about more troubles in the cleaning process afterward.

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    2. Don't take out or elevate the print sheet when the machine is still working.
      Sometimes when the printing of the initial layer is not going well and thus you decide to remove the filament and start over, you might just take out the print sheet directly without pausing the machine. In this case, the distance between the nozzle and the print sheet will suddenly decrease, and the nozzle may leave dents or traces on the print sheet as a result.

    3. Use masking tapes on the print sheet.
      As one of the favorite tools among Makers, masking tapes can improve the adhesion of the initial layer. Every time before a new print, you can just conveniently tear the old tapes off and apply new ones. More importantly, they won’t damage the print sheet. If your print sheet already has traces that can affect printing quality, you can cover them with masking tapes to minimize their annoying effects.

      There are things you should pay attention to when using masking tapes:
      • Do not overlap masking tapes, for the nozzle may lift the overlapped part of the tapes when printing the initial layer. Beyond that, take special care when sticking the edges of masking tapes. When the 3D printing module finishes heating and moves from the bottom left of the print sheet to the target area, it may easily scratch up the edges of masking tapes.
      • The area covered by masking tapes should be larger than the printing area; otherwise, the nozzle might also scratch the edges of the tapes.
      • Level the heated bed again after applying the masking tapes before printing. This is because the tape itself has a certain thickness, so printing without a second leveling may cause extra problems.
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    1. Apply washable glue to the estimated printing area on the print sheet before printing.
      Note that one or two thin coats of glue are enough, and make sure the glue is applied evenly to avoid lumping. When the printing is completed, you can easily remove the glue traces with water and a towel. Besides,
      it’s better to clean the glue immediately after printing when the heated bed has not cooled down, or you can clean the glue with warm water.
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    2. Set the Line Count to 3 or above if you choose Skirt as the Build Plate Adhesion Type in the slicer.
      Setting the build plate adhesion type helps enhance the initial layer adhesion, but when you select skirt and set the line count to a value smaller than 3, there are chances that some filament residues would stick to the print sheet and be difficult to remove.

    Cleaning Tips

    We have collected some practical cleaning tips from our colleagues and forum, which can be roughly divided into physical and chemical ones. When there are filament residues or grease on the print sheet, you can try some of the methods below.

    Physical Method

    You might be wondering: Nobody cooks on the print sheet, so where does the grease come from?

    In fact, our skin produces natural grease that might stick to the print sheet while we operate the 3D printer. Besides, dust from the air can also fall on the print sheet. The accumulation of grease and dust over time will inevitably affect the adhesion performance of the print sheet. Therefore, we need to clean the print sheet regularly, even if there is no filament residue. If you print frequently, it’s best to wipe the surface of the print sheet with a clean towel after each printing.

    The simplest and most effective physical method to remove filament residues is as follows.

    1. Heat the heated bed to a temperature above 70℃ (gloves are suggested to protect your hands).
    2. Clean the print sheet either with the palette knife in the Snapmaker tool box, or with a similar plastic tool.

    Be careful about your force in the process so that the palette knife doesn’t damage the print sheet. It’s recommended that you hold the front part of the knife with great care, concentrate the force of your fingers, and slowly clean the residues.

    The palette knife might leave some tiny scratches during this process, which are tolerable as long as they don’t affect the flatness of the print sheet.


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    Chemical Method

    Actually, we don’t recommend that you use the chemical method. As mentioned before, the surface of the print sheet sticker is specially processed for better adhesion performance. However, the chemical solvents may damage the surface. Therefore, use the chemical methods as a last resort and with caution even if they can help sometimes. Only when the physical method doesn’t work and you have no other print sheets for replacement can you try the chemical ways.

    According to tests, the 70% (or above) isopropyl alcohol (IPA) may help remove filament residues yet must be used in a well-ventilated area with protective measures. Additionally, ensure the heated bed has cooled down when using this method because the IPA is highly volatile.

     

    It should also be noted that for filament residues accumulated for a long time, neither physical method nor chemical method is of much help. Therefore, it’s better to clean the print sheet after each use.

    If one side of the print sheet cannot be used anymore, switch to the other side. If the damaged side is uneven with filament residues, you need first remove the residues before switching, or the flatness of the print sheet could be influenced. If both sides of the print sheet are damaged, you can place an order at our official store for a new print sheet with a few clicks!

     

    We hope this article could be useful for you!

    In the future, Snapmaker Academy will bring you more fun topics, so stay tuned!

    If you are interested in other content of 3D printing, feel free to contact us at support@snapmaker.com or leave your message in the community.

     

    Disclaimer

    All the methods in this article are for reference only.

    Snapmaker does not assume responsibility for loss, injuries, damage, or expense arising from or in any way connected with the methods in this article.

  • 3D Printer Nozzle Jam: Main Causes and Cleaning Methods

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    Hello, Maker!

    Did the nozzle jam ever happen to your 3D printer?

    I printed a model a few days ago and walked away for a while during the printing. When I came back, I just found my 3D Printing Module was moving back and forth while no filament was not extruded out, and the module was happily going farther and farther away from the model under my eyes...

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    It turned out that the nozzle was clogged!

    After going through relevant information and asking for help from our Engineers, I finally made the nozzle work again and completed my printing. In this article, I will share the method with you in case you are bothered with the same problem someday.

    Why It Happens

    There are actually many reasons for nozzle clogging, but they are mainly related to the following three factors:

    1. Filament degradation
    2. Improper operation
    3. Component malfunction

    Filament Degradation

    The nozzle is the only way out for the filament during printing. Therefore, if your nozzle is clogged, it has something to do with the filament you use in most cases.

    The filament quality is the first thing to consider. As 3D printing becomes ubiquitous, the filament market is booming with a dazzling of different brands, features, and colors. But their quality varies. Poor-quality filaments often contain impurities beyond standard limits, which accumulate over time and are likely to clog the nozzle. Moreover, such filaments usually have inconsistent diameters, which can also lead to nozzle jam. Therefore, have second thoughts on cheap filaments since they might result in a lot of maintenance costs in the future.

    But will good filaments solve the problem once for all? The answer is negative.

    The storage of filaments also matters in that moisture and dust that accumulate on the filament are also common causes of nozzle jam. After wetted (due to poor storage), the filament will gradually become harder and more brittle. It may easily break in the module and hence cannot be extruded smoothly out of the nozzle. In addition, wetted filaments have a higher melting point, which can also lead to nozzle jam. When the filament is extruded out from the nozzle, the dust with it will not be melted and extruded together. On the contrary, they will accumulate at the nozzle outlet, and clog the nozzle over time. For more information about filament storage and drying, see 3D Printing Filament Storage and Drying: Why and How.

    Improper Operation

    Many of your habitual operations will unknowingly cause nozzle jams. A few typical ones are listed as follows.

    1. The most direct improper operation is actually not having the habit of cleaning the nozzle. If you want to reduce the chance of nozzle clogging, you must first remember to clean the nozzle to remove the residues left inside or outside after each printing (the specific methods will be introduced later). If not removed, the residues inside the nozzle will inevitably cause nozzle jam over time, and those left outside may prevent the nozzle from being heated up to the specified temperature. As a result, the filament cannot be fully melted and thus clogs the nozzle.

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    2. The filament is not changed or unloaded according to regular procedures. If you directly cut it off or even roughly pull it off, you may find that the new filament cannot be extruded properly the next time you print.
    3. The printing temperature is not set correctly. The temperature is too low for the filament to be fully melted, which will lead to nozzle jam over time. Here is a tip: When the machine’s working temperature is low in winter, you can increase the printing temperature by 5-10℃. But remember, don’t set the temperature too high, either. Otherwise the filament will soften before it should. In this case, the gear will not be able to push forward the filament through the nozzle but chew a spot in the filament, which is known as “Heat Creep”. Furthermore, at an excessively high temperature, the filament may liquefy and stick to the outer surface of the nozzle more easily.

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    4. If the nozzle is set too close to the heated bed during leveling, the filament will not be extruded out smoothly and will accumulate inside the nozzle,  causing jams after cooling. This is generally due to the inaccurate manual leveling of the Heated Bed, or the failure to calibrate the distance between the nozzle tip and the heated bed in the last step of Auto Leveling. If the filament is not extruded when the initial layer is first printed, this is likely to be the case.

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    5. The print speed is too fast, and the filament cannot be melted adequately before extrusion. Over time, the nozzle will inevitably get clogged.

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    6. Too much retraction or too much tension in the feeding gears will also increase the risk of nozzle jam.
    7. When the nozzle moves to the warped edge, it is likely to be topped by the raised part, and the filament that would have been normally extruded will also be temporarily blocked in the nozzle at that moment. If this happens more times, the nozzle may become clogged.

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    8. Different types of filaments are switched frequently. If you first use the filament with a high melting temperature and then switch to use another filament with a much lower melting temperature, the residues of the first filament are likely to accumulate inside the nozzle to accelerate jams.

    Component Malfunction

    As we mentioned above, an excessively high or low printing temperature can result in nozzle jams. But sometimes, at a proper printing temperature, the nozzle still gets clogged. The reason might be that the heating component of the 3D Printing Module has failed to heat the nozzle to the specified temperature, or the cooling fan inside the Module has malfunctioned, leading to early softening of the filament.

    How to Identify

    A nozzle can be partially or entirely clogged.

    In the former case, the filament can be extruded from the nozzle, but it will show some unusual signs. For example, you find debris in the gears if opening the front cover of the 3D Printing Module; the nozzle extrudes much thinner filaments than usual; or the extruded filament has a rough surface.

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    For the latter, it is much easier to tell if the nozzle is clogged. For example, as we described at the beginning of this article, the module idles and no filament is extruded out; or the filament has been inserted into the module, but no filament is extruded when you load the filaments after the nozzle is heated.

    How to Avoid

    You are lucky if your 3D printing module is free from the above abnormalities. But, you still need to prepare for a rainy day. The easiest way is to go against the causes:

    1. Buy filaments produced by qualified manufacturers;
    2. Protect your filaments from dust and moisture;
    3. Check if the filament will break easily before printing;
    4. Set a proper printing temperature for different types of filaments;
    5. Empty and clean the nozzle as soon as possible after printing;
    6. Remove the filaments and store them properly if the 3D printer will be left unused for a long time;
    7. Always turn on the printer and heat up the nozzle before unloading, changing, or loading the filament.

    How to Clean

    Here are some methods of cleaning your nozzle in printing routines and after clogging.

    Routine Cleaning

    1. Turn off the printer and wait for the nozzle to cool down, then disassemble the nozzle and clean its outer surface with a cotton swab dipped in anhydrous ethanol. Please take protective measures beforehand, such as putting on gloves.
    2. Start the printer and heat the nozzle, then clean it with tweezers after the filament on the outside of the nozzle is melted. Do not use wire brushes or similar tools, as they can damage the oxide layer on the outer surface of the nozzle, making it easier for residues to cling to the nozzle.

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    3. If you do not want to turn on the printer, you can detach the nozzle and then heat it with a heat gun before performing the cleaning. But you need to be careful to prevent burns.

    Clogged Nozzle Rescue

    1. If the nozzle has been clogged already, first check if the nozzle tip is sealed by residues against its outer surface. If yes, follow the daily cleaning steps to remove the residues and see if the filament can be extruded smoothly.
    2. If the nozzle is clogged inside, first heat up the nozzle, unload the filament and then insert a needle slightly thinner than the nozzle inside to unclog it. You can also use a wire or guitar string as an alternative, as long as it can be inserted inside.

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    3. If the type of filament that clogs the nozzle is known for sure, heat the nozzle and insert a harder filament with a higher melting point into the 3D Printing Module to unclog the nozzle.

    We hope this article could be useful for you.
    In the future, Snapmaker Academy will bring you more exciting topics, so STAY TUNED!
    If you are interested in other topics of 3D printing, feel free to contact us at support@snapmaker.com, or leave your message in the community.

     

    Disclaimer

    All the methods in this article are for reference only.

    Snapmaker does not assume responsibility for loss, injuries, damage, or expense arising from or in any way connected with the methods in this article.

     

  • 3D Printing Filament Storage and Drying: Why and How

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    Hello, Maker!

    Today we’re going to talk about a topic that is important yet easily neglected (and will surely bring you problems someday if so): Filament storage and drying. Ten minutes taken for reading this article, and troubles in the future saved!

    Why Serious About Filament Storage

    Have you ever bought many filaments at one time when there's actually not much need? Do you always tear their packings and try them all in the first place? And do you seldom use up a spool of filament before you start with a new one?
    If the answers are yes, I guess that most of the filaments you've purchased are left unused in some corner now, and some of them might have been “killed” by the moisture if you haven't paid any attention to the environment and methods for their storage and let them stay exposed to the open air.

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    Almost all kinds of 3D Printing filament are hygroscopic, which means they can absorb the water from the air and end up wet sooner or later.

    "Being wetted" seems no big deal since it happens so commonly in our daily life, but things go different for 3D printing filaments in that it can bring about irreversible changes and lead to severe consequences in at least three ways as follows.

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    • Quality degradation
      The physical properties of the filament change as it becomes wet. For example, the filament will swell in diameter, not easy to notice with your naked eyes though. At the same time, it will also turn harder and more brittle, which makes them easier to break, thereby increasing the difficulty of use and maintenance.
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    • Bad print
      When the wet filament is heated in the nozzle, the moisture contained in it will boil and produce many tiny bubbles. This gives rise to an unstable flow of the extruded filament, and therefore a rough and uneven surface of the print. What's more, after the printer has given the order for the nozzle to stop extruding, the filament is very likely to continue to run out of the nozzle since the moisture in it will be boiling for a while, which causes strings on the print, a real headache for many makers.

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    • Printer damage
      Not joking, printing with wet filaments can bring damage to your machine. As we just mentioned, wet filaments are more prone to be stringy during the printing, and that will likely clog or even damage the nozzle. Additionally, the melting point of the filament will become higher when it is wetted. Thus, the filament will not be melt so well at the original temperature, which possibly causes the nozzle jam too. Beyond that, if the filaments are left unused in the machine for a long time, they will swell in diameter, as said before, and get stuck in the nozzle.

    Some may wonder: wet quilts can be easily dried if put under the sun, then how about the wet filament? Can we restore its quality by drying it?
    Research shows that drying helps, but the quality of the filament will still decrease by 33% even after it is perfectly redried, since its physical property has been changed more or less, which cannot be recovered simply by drying the moisture contained in it.

    So, how exactly does its physical property change?
    When the filament absorbs water, they react with each other. The filaments are polymer — until water molecules break up all the secondary molecular bonds and change them into monomers, and this is also the reason why wet filaments are harder and more brittle.

     

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    If you have been long confused by problems like filament quality degradation, bad prints, or clogged nozzles without any clues, it's time to think about the storage of your filament.

    Appropriate Storage Conditions

    The temperature and the humidity are the two of the most key factors to consider here.
    Generally speaking, you should store your filament away from direct sunlight and where the temperature is not too hot or cold. Data show that filaments such as PLA, TPU, PC, Nylon, etc. are better stored between -20 ℃/-4 ℉ and 30 ℃/86 ℉. The humidity is better kept between 10% to 20%. If it goes higher than 50%, your filament is very likely to be wetted. Nevertheless, the most suitable conditions differ from filament to filament, and that's why most professional filament manufacturers generally include instructions or guides inside the packaging, describing in detail the properties and storage conditions of their filaments. Just remember not to throw them away at first!

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    Ways to Store Filament

    Several things need to be clear before we talk about the storage methods:

    • Even if the filament can be stored for up to two years in an ideal environment, it's recommended that you buy just as much as you need
    • Try to use up the filament in a month after it starts to be exposed to the air;
    • If you have to leave it unused for the moment, don't keep it waiting for more than one year.

    Now, let me introduce the moisture-proof storage methods for filaments that are more popular (and economic) among makers.

    1. Put your filament in a sealed bag or box with enough desiccant packets inside or a whole layer of silica gel beads on the bottom. You can also put inside a cheap electronic thermometer that tells both the temperature and the humidity, which enables you to monitor the storage from time to time.
      You don’t need to buy the desiccant packets in particular—just collect them from the snack bags. Silica gel beads are also a good choice because they can be heated and dried for reuse at regular intervals. In addition, some makers said that it would be better to wrap the silica gel beads in cloth bags, because the cloth helps absorb water too.
      Although the household sealed storage box can meet the demand, many makers designed special containers for storing filaments. You can download the file and print one out directly, or make some adjustments and create the most suitable filament container for yourself!

      Filament dry box for 3-4 spools of filament

      Filament Storage Solution
      Build your own DIY filament box

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    2. Try a vacuum bag, put inside again desiccant packets or silica gel beads, and force the air out of the bag with a pump. It's more suited to store the filament that will not be used very frequently.
    3. If you happen to have a cat and use the crystal cat litter, you can borrow some to store your filament. The crystal cat litter is made of silica gel, so it can work as the desiccant too. Just look out for one thing: don't let the cat mistake that you've got it a new toilet...
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    4. Again if you have a pet, you can use the pet food container to store the filament. Generally speaking, such containers are made satisfactory in being airtight, for the pet food absorbs moisture easily too.
    5. Choose professional filament storage equipment. Several filament manufacturers have developed specially-designed containers for makers to best store their filaments. Although it might be a little more expensive than other methods, it saves you time and effort in the long run.

    How to Judge Whether Filament Is Wet

    Now, you have been clear about the importance and specific methods of filament storage. But before putting them into practice, probably you should first judge whether your filament has been wetted.
    Check the following ten descriptions carefully. If you get 5 or 6 hits, you'd better dry the filaments before storing them.

    1. The filament becomes harder, and easier to break.
    2. Abnormal spots or bubbles on the surface of the filament.
    3. The melting point of the filament becomes higher.
    4. There is steam coming out of the nozzle during printing.
    5. There are crackling and popping sounds when the filament is extruded out (the moisture is boiling and evaporating).
    6. Poorer adhesion of the first layer with the printing parameters unchanged.
    7. The printed lines are not continuous.
    8. Severe stringing or oozing.
    9. Fuzzy or complex textures or small bubbles on the surface of the print.
    10. The nozzle is often clogged.

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    Ways to Dry Filament

    If you have found that the filament has been wetted, then it's time to dry them. As for the drying methods, makers have shown their strange yet effective wisdom.

    1. Use an oven that can heat at low temperatures (e.g., below 50 ℃/122 ℉). Since the actual temperature is not always the same as set, you can put a thermometer inside the oven to measure the heat difference before drying.
      If the filament is heated at temperatures that are higher than recommended, the result could be counterproductive. Therefore, frequent monitoring is also required.
      What's worth noting is that this method cannot be used to dry the filament that might produce toxic substances when heated, which will pollute the interior of the oven. The steps are as follows.

      1. Set the target temperature.
      2. After the preheating, put the filament inside the oven.
      3. Heat the filament for four to six hours (for reference only; depending on the filament types, the quantity, and other factors).

    2. Use a food dehydrator or fruit dryer. The recommended temperature settings are similar to the case of the oven.
    3. Use a pet hair dryer that can heat above 40 ℃/104 ℉. Considering the health of your pet, this method is not suitable for drying filaments that may produce toxic substances, either.
    4. Put the filament on the Heated Bed of your 3D printer, cover it with a box, then set the desired temperature, and leave it heated for about six to eight hours.
    5. Use professional drying equipment, which is safer and more efficient.

    For reference only, here are some recommended drying temperatures for common 3D printing filaments:
    PLA: 40 °C–48 °C (104 ℉–118.4 ℉)
    TPU: 45 °C–55 °C (113 ℉–131 ℉)
    ABS, Nylon: 60 °C–80 ℃ (140 ℉–176 ℉)
    PETG: 60 °C–70 °C (140 ℉–158 ℉)
    PC: 120 °C–130 °C (248 ℉–266 ℉)

    Generally speaking, it is necessary to dry the filament as soon as you find it wetted. The longer it is being wet, the more difficult for you to dry it.

    Besides the moisture, filaments are also susceptible to dust if not stored properly, which is another cause of nozzle jam. Therefore, you should also dedust the filament before printing, like blowing (instead of collecting, because some dust hidden in the filament coil is difficult to be collected up but easy to blow away) it with a dust cleaner, or install a dust-cleaning clip on your 3D printer, ensuring that the filament is dust-free before loaded into the extruder. The following are some cleaning clips designed by makers in TG, go print one and say Bye to the dust!

    Universal Filament Filter and Lubricator
    Snap-on Filament Filter/Oiler
    Universal Filament filter or dust filter

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    We hope this article could be useful for you.
    In the future, Snapmaker Academy will bring you more exciting topics, so STAY TUNED!
    If you are interested in other topics of 3D printing, feel free to contact us at support@snapmaker.com, or leave your message in the community.

     

    Disclaimer

    All the data and methods in this article are for reference only.

    Snapmaker does not assume responsibility for loss, injuries, damage, or expense arising from or in any way connected with the data or methods in this article.

  • Slicing and G Code: The Bridge Between 3D Model and 3D Printer

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    Hello, Maker!


    In Feed Your 3D Printer: 17 Awesome Websites to Download 3D Models, we’ve introduced to you 17 3D model websites in distinct styles, by way of which you can gain access to abundant 3D resources and take joy in being Maker without modeling by yourself. But there’s still one more step before your 3D printer can cast the zero-to-everything magic: Slicing the 3D model.

    To elaborate on the concept of Slicing, let’s first have a brief look at the rough process of 3D printing.

     

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    As you can see, obtaining the 3D model is just the end of Step ①. For your 3D printer to start printing, you need to import the 3D model into the slicing software (hereafter slicer) and send the slicing outcome — G Code — to the 3D printer.

    So far, you might have wondered a lot: Why is slicing necessary? How does it work? And what is G Code exactly? Keep reading,  and answers are on the way!

     

    What is Slicing

    Essentially, slicing is a translating process.

    The 3D printing model we obtained in Step ① is a three-dimensional graphic file (such as the STL file). Such files contain geometric information, which is composed of triangular faces used to represent the contour shape of the object.


    increasing-resolution.png

     

    However, your 3D printer is a mechanical device, of which the operation requires instruction information on How To Do, rather than geometric information describing What It Is. Therefore, a problem arises: the 3D printer cannot read and understand the geometric information in the model file, and the model file itself does not store instruction information. In this way, there is an information gap between the 3D printing model and the 3D printer.

    Slicing is the bridge over this gap.

    The role it plays is to "translate" the geometric information in the 3D model file into instruction information that can be read and understood by the 3D printer. In addition to the original geometric data, you can also add more auxiliary information (such as adjusting the temperature of the heated bed or nozzle, adding supports, etc.) through the slicer, so that the 3D printer can better build the model.

    We can compare this slicing process to cooking to better explain their relationship.

    With only a picture of a dish (3D model file), no matter how skilled a chef (3D printer) is, it is almost impossible to perfectly restore the taste of the dish in the picture. But if you make a corresponding recipe (generating G Code by slicing), describe in detail all the ingredients, the amount of each, the cooking sequence of this dish, and the special technique for each cooking step, the problem will be solved.

    In addition, if you have some knowledge of the computer numerical control, the relationship among 3D printing models, slicing software, and G Code can also be compared with reference to that among Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), and Computer Numerical Control (CNC).

     

    How Slicing Works

    After roughly explaining the role of slicing, we can take the example of Cura, one of the most powerful slicers, to briefly introduce the working mechanism behind slicing (otherwise known as the Engine), and several key concepts involved.

    CuraEngine mainly goes through the following five steps when slicing a 3D model file.


    CuraEngine_Process_EN.png

     

    Optimizing the 3D model

    When you import the 3D model into Cura, it will be optimized according to Cura's OptimizedModel.

    As mentioned above, the geometric information of the 3D model file is actually a description of the shape and position of the triangles that make up the model. Therefore, the optimization of CuraEngine is to analyze, establish, and store the relationship between these triangular faces, which is officially called the vertex-face relation. Put more clearly, it analyzes which triangles are adjacent.

    For example, suppose you are required to memorize a set of numbers: 8, 10, 12, 20, 25, 30. You can choose to simply memorize it, or you can memorize it based on their relationship: 8, 10, and 12 are respectively four times, five times, and six times as much as 2; 20, 25, and 30 are respectively four times, five times, and six times as much as 5.

    It's easier to memorize, right? Cura thinks so.

    Optimizing the model and establishing the adjacent relation among the triangular facets are the key prerequisites for Cura to quickly slice models and build Layerparts.

    Slicing 3D model into 2D layers

    The main task of CuraEngine in this step is to cross-cut the 3D model into 2D planes (imagine how you slice the cheese).

    Combined with the mechanical structure of the 3D printer, it can be understood as the 3D model is cut layer by layer with a certain Z axis height (layer height) by a 2D plane formed by the X axis and the Y axis. When the 2D plane intersects with the triangular faces that make up the 3D model, the corresponding intersecting lines will be obtained.


    Intersecting_Line.png


    The target of slicing is to get 2D graphics on 2D planes for the printer to print layer by layer. However, the cross-cutting result is just a bunch of lines. How do we know which lines form a closed 2D graphic?

    Here comes the adjacent relation of the triangular faces established in Optimizing the Model.

    If two triangular faces (like A and B) are adjacent and both of them intersect with the same X-Y plane, the intersecting lines (like the red line and the blue line) generated must also be adjacent, which means they can form a closed 2D graphic with other adjacent lines.


    Face-Vertex.png


    Therefore, CuraEngine can quickly identify separate closed 2D graphics. At this point, the 3D model is sliced into 2D layers, and each layer consists of one or more closed 2D graphics.

    Building LayerParts

    In the last step, we've got closed 2D graphics on 2D layers. However, the number of graphics in each layer is not necessarily the same. Separate 2D graphics on a single layer are called LayerParts, which is an essential concept in CuraEngine.

    Quoting an official example of CuraEngine, If you slice a table with four legs, Layer ② has four LayerParts, while Layer ① has only one LayerPart.

     

    LayerParts.png


    In this step, CuraEngine defines separate closed 2D graphics as different LayerParts. In this way, the G Code will be complied in units of LayerPart, removing the redundant information outside the Layerparts as much as possible to improve the printing efficiency.

    Marking areas

    After building LayerParts, CuraEngine marks areas of the LayerPart as Insets, Up/Down Skins Areas, or Sparse Infill Areas and plans respective printing modes.

    For the same LayerPart, the outer line area will be marked as Insets, and the area inside the line will be marked as Up/Down Skins Areas or Sparse Infill Areas. As for the specific parameters (such as outline thickness, infill density, pattern, etc.), you can set them separately in Cura. It should be noted that this step is only to mark different areas and plan corresponding printing modes, but not actual paths. When the G code is compiled in the next step, specific printing paths will be generated in different areas.

    Generating the G Code

    In this step, CuraEngine will collect the geometry and parameter information involved in all the previous steps, and then compile it into G Code to guide the 3D printer to print out the target model.

    As shown below, Cura's official document lists some important bits during this process:

    1. PathOrderOptimizer: As the name implies, the nozzle will select the nearest LayerPart to print when it moves to enhance efficiency.
    2. Infill: Print in the form of lines.
    3. Comb: To avoid stringing, the nozzle will try not to move without printing if there's another path to go.
    4. GCodeExport: The G Code generating process is divided into two steps. First, collect and summarize all the path information of each layer; second, compile and generate the G Code.

     

    How to Read G Code

    As the outcome of slicing, G Code instructs 3D printers to print. Because of its nature as a special programming language, G Code can be as readable as Java or Python. As long as you grasp the basic syntax, it's not difficult to judge the meaning of different G commands.


    G__EN.drawio.png


    G Code can be divided into two types: G-code and M-code.

    G-code (General code) focuses on geometric information, mainly describing instructions like guiding the 3D printer on moving. Seen from the naming, it is obvious that the G-code is the core of G Code (sounds like a tongue-twister).

    M-code (Miscellaneous code) is a non-geometric command used to specify non-geometric parameters such as the heated bed temperature or the fan activation status.

    The number immediately following the letter G or M indicates different actions. For example, G0 instructs the printing module to move quickly, and G28 instructs the printing module back to the home position.

    The remaining parameters generally consist of one or more alphanumeric combinations. Letters usually indicate the object that performs the action, while numbers indicate specific parameters of the action. For instance, the G0 X5 Y20 command instructs the printing module to quickly move to the position where the coordinate is (5, 20) by the movement of the X axis and Y axis. However, not every G command has specific parameters. For example, M84 simply means to disable the motor, in which case no other parameters need to be added later.

    For the meanings of more letters, please refer to the explanation on Wikipedia.

    It's worth noting that 3D printers with different core firmware may have different understandings of the same G command, and therefore perform different actions. For this situation, there are three solutions for reference:

    1. Try to choose the exclusive slicer for your 3D printer if any. For example, Snapmaker Luban is a tailor-made slicer for Snapmaker 3D printers, which will generate the most suitable G commands according to the firmware type of the Snapmaker 3D printer.
    2. If you have to use other slicers, try to find your printer model in the printer settings of the slicer. For example, you can select Snapmaker on the printer list of Cura.
    3. If your printer is not on the list, you can add/create a new printer setting in the slicer and select the correct firmware type. For example, the core firmware used by the Snapmaker 3D printer is Marlin.

     

    Great Slicers

    Based on the reputation, practicality, and price, we recommend six slicers as follows. Whether you are a professional or a newcomer, they are the first choice for most of your slicing needs.

     

    Name Price Supported OS Download Link
    Cura

    Free

    Windows, macOS, Linux

    https://ultimaker.com/en/products/cura-software

    IdeaMaker Free

    Windows, macOS, Linux

    https://www.raise3d.com/pages/ideamaker

    Repetier Free

    Windows, macOS, Linux

    https://www.repetier.com/

    PrusaSlicer Free

    Windows, macOS, Linux

    https://www.prusa3d.com/prusaslicer/

    Simplify3D $150 Windows, macOS

    https://www.simplify3d.com/

    Snapmaker Luban Free Windows, macOS, Linux

    https://luban.xyz/

     

    Common Parameters and Tips

    As known among Makers, no matter how perfect the 3D model file is, there will always be various unexpected problems in the actual printing process. In most cases, nevertheless, these problems can be alleviated or solved by adjusting specific parameters in the slicer. Next, let's talk about some commonly used slicing parameters and related tips.

    Layer Height

    The layer height refers to the vertical distance between layers when slicing. The lower the layer height, the longer the printing time, and the better model details can be printed out. Generally, we want the details, but the choice depends on specific scenarios. If the model does not contain many details or is of practical use, the layer height can be increased appropriately to save time and the filament.

    Outer Wall Thickness

    The thicker the outer wall, the stronger the outer skin of the model, and vice versa. It should be noted that the wall thickness is best set as a multiple of the nozzle diameter. Otherwise, the printing may be compromised. 

     

    __.png

     

    Retraction

    When the 3D printing module travels, the melted filament in the nozzle will ooze downwards due to the gravity, resulting in strings on the print. What you need to solve this problem is Retraction.

    After setting suitable retraction parameters, whenever the 3D printing module travels, the filament will be retracted for a certain distance, thus offsetting the oozing distance. However, if you set inappropriate parameters, it will cause insufficient extruding when the printer continues to print or cause the filament clogging in the nozzle. Therefore, you'd better constantly adjust the settings according to the actual situation to avoid strings without generating other problems.

    Infill Density

    Infill density is generally expressed in the form of a percentage. If it is set as 100%, the target area will be completely filled. However, because the extrusion volume is sometimes unstable, setting an infill density of 100% is likely to cause the model to deform. 15%-30% is enough for most printing cases, which is both economical and time-saving.

    Support

    When the model has overhangs, the support comes on stage. The role of support is to serve as a printing base for the overhanging part. As mentioned earlier, the 3D printer prints layer by layer. Except for the initial layer, each layer is built on the basis of the layer below. If the overhang angle equals or exceeds 90°, nothing under the first layer of the overhang can support its printing. When the overhang angle exceeds 45°, printing problems will easily occur if no support is added. In Snapmaker Luban, in addition to the support position, you can also set the support structure (linear, grid, etc.), density, Z distance, and other support parameters.

     

    __.png

     

    Initial Layer Adhesion

    As the saying goes, well begun is half done. Similar to building houses, a solid and reliable initial layer is crucial for 3D printing. If the adhesion of the initial layer is not so good, it might cause layer shifting or warping. Considering its importance, most slicers support setting separate parameters for the initial layer, such as printing speed, travel speed, layer height, etc.

     

    There is no perfect parameter setting for every maker or every model. Understand the meaning of these parameters and flexibly adjust them in different scenarios to get the best prints——that's what makes us proud of being Maker.

     

    We hope this article could be more or less useful for you.
    Snapmaker Academy will bring you more exciting topics in the future, so stay tuned!
    If you are interested in other topics of 3D printing, feel free to contact us at support@snapmaker.com, or leave your message in the community.

     

    Note: The 3D Printing mentioned in this article refers in particular to Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D Printing.

     

    Disclaimer

    Snapmaker recommends the software to you in no particular order and for resource-sharing purposes only.
    Snapmaker does not in any way endorse, control, or assume responsibility for the content, views hosted on, and services provided by these software.

     

     

     

  • Feed Your 3D Printer: 17 Awesome Websites to Download 3D Models

    Websites_to_Download_3D_Models.jpg

    Hello, Makers!

    We’ve got something good for you, but one question first:

     

    Why do you 3D print?

     

    Maybe you are a craftsman who likes to create novel or useful gadgets.

    Maybe you are an ACG lover who is keen to make garage kids of your favorite characters.

    Maybe you are a designer who wishes to animate your works.

    Maybe you are a mechanical engineer who loves to design customized parts and accessories.

    Maybe you are an educator, a science geek, or a researcher…

    No matter who you are, when you enjoy the sense of achievement and satisfaction that 3D printing has brought you, have you ever wondered what other makers are 3D printing?

     

    In this article, we will introduce to you 17 3D model websites, through which you can get to know what makers all around the world are imagining, making, and enjoying!

     

    General

    General websites usually feature wide and detailed categories, mostly including art, fashion, gadgets, household stuff, hobbies, tools, etc. The complexity of 3D models in the same website could be greatly varied or evenly distributed, so most people can find what they want.

    Thingiverse

    Thingiverse.png

    Model Total 2, 200, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  No Pricing Free

    Bonus:

    1. An education section in which models can be filtered by subjects or grades.
    2. Interest groups with numerous topics yet less activity than before.

    Summary:

    With highly detailed categories and an enormous database, Thingiverse is undoubtedly a heaven for most makers. Just as the name tells, it is a universe full of things that are practical, helpful, beautiful, funny, or weird…

     

    CGTraderCGTrader.png

    Model Total 1, 250, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  Yes Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    1. Blogs about AR or 3D technologies, 3D model trading guides, and community updates.
    2. A freelance platform for customers and designers to facilitate trading and cooperation.
    3. ARsenal, a solution for e-commerce retailers and brands to get 3D visualization for better management, promotion, and business strategies of their goods.

    Summary:

    With three million registered users, CGTrader is more like a free and large-scale 3D model trading market, providing more-than-expected convenience for every role. Through CGTrader, customers can search for existing models or hire designers to get customized service, while designers can promote themselves with high-quality designs and get freelancing or part-time jobs. More than that, customers can even negotiate the model price with its designer or request other file formats. Note that CGTrader has a particular section for printable 3D models, and models in other sections may not always be designed to print out.

     

    PinshapePinshape.png

    Model Total 66, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙 
    Registration Required 

    Yes

    Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    1. An education section that emphasizes more on tutorials other than models, mainly about 3D printing hardware or software using tips, post-processing methods, and printing tricks.
    2. A study section including blogs and guides about 3D printing for newcomers to get started and recommendations of featured models.
    3. A 3D printer section to collect and present community-sourced reviews and 3D printer data for makers to choose the most suitable printer according to their needs.

    Summary:

    Though the poor maintenance (the blogs, tutorials, and guides have not been updated for a long time) of Pinshape in recent years has discouraged many devoted followers, and the community is not so active anymore, its large-scale 3D model repository is still worth your exploration.

     

    Cults

    Cults.png

    Model Total 35, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  Yes Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    1. Blogs with abundant topics, such as classic 3D printing cases for important festivals, Choose & Buy guides for 3D printers, and the latest development of the 3D printing technology.
    2. Online contests on design and 3D printing with attractive prizes.

    Summary:

    Cults has gradually taken shape as a mature and vibrant 3D model website over the years. Not only does it value the interaction with users, but it also has many user-friendly website designs. For example, the model price displayed on the website can be converted between over 20 monetary units, allowing users from different countries and regions to get straighter pricing information; it also provides a Random button to create more opportunities for users to encounter their favorite models.

     

    3DShook3DShook.png

    Model Total 6, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  Yes Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    1. Blogs about 3D printing tricks and classic printing cases.
    2. APPZ, an online creating tool for users to customize their own door sign, phone case, keychain, and many other interesting things with plenty of ready-made templates.

    Summary:

    3DShook features a subscription mode with a stable bimonthly updating pace. Meanwhile, it also supports the purchase of single models and provides a small free trial gallery. The 3D models of 3DShook are exclusive, meaning you cannot find them anywhere else, which might make the customers or subscribers feel their money well-spent. More importantly, all models must pass a strict printing test before they are uploaded and posted.

     

    Libre3DLibre3D.png

    Model Total 1, 300+ Update Frequency 🆙
    Registration Required  No Pricing Free

    Bonus:

    Some 3D models may have a corresponding tutorial (about modeling or printing) attached to their pages.

    Summary:

    Libre3D is a completely free and open-source 3D model website in which users can convert SCAD files to STL files online.

     

    Practical

    Websites under this category often focus on useful 3D models. From 3D printer accessories, mini pool tables, desk lamps, down to special-sized screws, hooks, and keychains, you can find the corresponding 3D models of basically most of the common things you’ve seen in real life.

    YouMagine

    YouMagine.png

    Model Total 18, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  No Pricing Free

    Bonus:

    There are blogs about the 3D printing industry, the development of popular and mainstream 3D printers, website tricks, and community news.

    Summary:

    About a quarter of resources on YouMagine are 3D models of parts and components, some of which can be printed by users to DIY their 3D printers. In addition, users can also modify the model files online through 3D Slash.

     

    RedpahRedpah.png

    Model Total 4, 500+ Update Frequency 🆙
    Registration Required  No (for free files) Pricing Free or Paid

    Summary:

    Most of the 3D models on Redpah must be paid to download, but don't be scared off—nearly 95 percent of the charging models cost less than $5! Most of them are related to household and life scenarios.

     

    RepablesRepables.png

    Model Total 1, 900+ Update Frequency 🆙
    Registration Required  No Pricing Free

    Summary:

    Repables mainly provides 3D models related to mechanical components that are practical in real life. If you are keen to take advantage of the 3D printing technology to make a variety of tools and accessories for real use, you might as well come here for a look.

     

    Artistic

    The websites below are mainly for art lovers. Generally of high quality, most of the 3D models are related to art, garage kits, toys, jewelry, architecture, movie, or games, which can match the artistic preferences of different groups of people.

    MyMiniFactoryMyMiniFactory.png

    Model Total 120, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  No (for free files) Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    1. Blogs with varied topics and exciting content, regularly updated and contributed both by the administrator and the users.
    2. Scan The World, a project that is designed to spread art and culture around the world. Users are encouraged to scan and upload the 3D models of various sculptures and artistic works for free download by other users.

    Summary:

    The 3D models of MyMiniFactory are mainly related to art, games, garage kids, and pop culture. All models must pass a printing test before being released to ensure the model quality. Among them, nearly 30,000 models are made by professional designers. In addition to regular purchasing, users can also obtain high-quality 3D models at preferential prices through crowdfunding.

     

    RIGModels

    RIGModels.png

    Model Total 10, 000+ Update Frequency Unknown
    Registration Required  No (for the first five files) Pricing 30 free files for non-subscribing registered users every day; all free for donated users

    Summary:

    RIGModels features mainly character models, and the file for 3D printing will be specially listed on the download page. Additionally, users can also download the low-polygon version of the model as needed.

     

    Threeding

    Threeding.png

    Model Total 5, 500+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  Yes Pricing Free or Paid

    Summary:

    Several history museums sell 3D models of their exhibits on Threeding, so history enthusiasts may have the chance to get their favorite exhibits home with Threeding and a 3D printer. Beyond that, Threeding considerately provides a Compare button for users to carefully compare the price, file size, file format, and other information of different models.

     

    3DKitbash

    3DKitbash.png

    Model Total 70+ Update Frequency 🆙
    Registration Required Yes Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    There are blogs about 3D printing technologies, 3D printers, 3D filament, etc.

    Summary:

    On 3DKitbash, you can find attractive 3D models sold by kit, many of which are ball-jointed. These models are usually of high quality, although the overall number of resources is quite small.

     

    Search Engine

    Besides the 3D model websites introduced above, search engines for 3D models are also treasures for makers.

    yeggi

    yeggi.png
    On yeggi, you can search for more than three million free or paid 3D models. Considering that users sometimes do not have a specific search target, yeggi also provides browsing prompts like random and popular to keep your 3D printer always occupied. Run into a model you like but don’t want to download it for now? Just click add to list, and yeggi will collect them for you.

     

    Thangs

    Thangs.png

    What makes Thangs stand out is that it supports geometric search, of which the search speed might be slightly slow, but the results are often full of surprises. Registered users can also upload their favorite models to Thangs for free download by other users or invite others to collaborate on 3D model projects.

     

    3dMdb

    3dMdb.png

    Through the powerful searching system of 3dMdb, you can search for nearly 7.5 million 3D models. To improve the search efficiency, 3dMdb also provides options for more than 30 well-known 3D model websites as filters, so users can directly choose to search for models on one of these websites. In addition, you can also set a price range to achieve quick positioning based on your budget.

     

    STLFinder

    STLFinder.png

    As a well-known search engine for 3D models, STLFinder can be used to search for millions of resources. When you have no target but want to see something new, you could try the hottest search tags in 24 hours provided by STLFinder. However, the user needs to click twice to jump to the source website for downloading, and its filter system seems to be less satisfactory than its counterparts above. Regardless of these minor flaws, it is still one of the preferred search engines for many 3D printing enthusiasts.

     

    Equipped with these websites and their countless resources, you are now one of the “richest” makers! Go find and print your FAVORITE!

    In the future, Snapmaker Academy will continue introducing useful and interesting resources and knowledge about 3D printing, such as mainstream slice software, modeling software, and filament guides, so STAY TUNED!

     

    Disclaimer

    Snapmaker recommends the websites and software to you in no particular order and for resource-sharing purposes only.

    Snapmaker does not in any way endorse, control, or assume responsibility for the content, views hosted on, and services provided by these websites.

  • Snapmaker Academy: How to Print LED Letters with PETG

    Print_LED_Letters_with_PETG.jpg

     PETG is kind of a perfect alternative to either PLA or ABS. It is almost as easy to print as PLA, also durable and reliable as ABS. However, it can be a little demanding on printing skills. This video tutorial will show you how to handle PETG by printing LED letter with it. Have a sneak peek on our tips:

     

    The basics:

    • Printing temperature: 220 °C - 250 °C (keep fine tuning).
    • A 60°C-80°C heated bed temperature recommended.

     

    Solutions to PETG adhesion problems:

    • Add a brim for a better adhesion.
    • Print sticking too much? Use release agent or remove while hot.
    • A textured PEI platform can do a lot.

     

    How to avoid oozing and stringing:

    • More Z offset for PETG.
    • Slightly reducing the "Flow" in Luban.
    • Reduce Initial Layer Line Width as appropriate.
    • Enable "Retraction".
  • Snapmaker Academy: How to 3D Print with ABS Filament

    Print_with_ABS.jpg

    ABS can be trickier to print with than PLA, as it's more demanding on the printer, the environment and printing skills. Here is a short video tutorial of how to print ABS nicely with Snapmaker. Have a quick look below:

     

    The basics:

    • Printing temperature: 210℃-250℃
    • Heated Bed temperature: 80℃-110℃
    • Brim or Raft required
    • Good ventilation required

    How to avoid warping or cracking:

    • Level the bed
    • Use an enclosure
    • Fine-tune the temperature and speed
    • Use 3D printing glue or blue tape
    • Change the G-code to turn off the cooling fan

    How to print ABS overhang or bridge:

    • Lower the print speed & the layer height
    • Use support
    • Use PLA instead if durability and heat resistance are not critical.
  • Snapmaker Academy: How to Edit STL Files with Meshmixer

    Edit_STL_Files_with_Meshmixer.jpg

    Edit-STL-Files-with-Meshmixer.pngCatalog

    Overview

    Tools & Materials

    What You Will Learn

    Sample Files

    Workflow

    Tutorial

    3D Printing

    Remix & Share

    Overview

    Design & Manufacture

    Now that you are reading this guide about 3D Printing, we bet you know the word “STL”.

    STL is short for Stereolithography. It’s a file format created by 3D Systems company who’s known as one of the pioneers in 3D Printing industry. Born in 1987, this “30+ years old” format is still widely used for Prototyping, 3D Printing and CAM. For 3D Printing, STL might be the most commonly used model format.

    02.png

    So, what is STL? To put it simply, STL contains a limited number of triangular facets which describe the surface geometry of a 3D object. Think about a football that is made up with several pentagons or hexagons, an STL file works the same way. One thing that makes STL model different from other common CAD model is that it has no attributes of color, texture, etc.

    As long as you have an STL file downloaded online or shared by others, you can import it into a slicer software and then print it out, making it quite easy to use. But obviously, things would be far more interesting if we can edit an STL file creatively. So, can we? The good news is yes, we can. The better news is we can do it at no cost – with the help of the free Autodesk Meshmixer software.

    In the debut of Snapmaker Academy, we’d like to show you how to customize a Snapmaker Original Egg Capsule Toy, and share some ideas and tricks about editing an STL file.

     

    Tools & Materials

    Tools

    Software

    Material

     

    What You Will Learn

    You are going to learn how to use Meshmixer to:

    • Transform the size, orientation, position and shape of an object;
    • Get a new object by calculating the Boolean difference between 2 or more objects;
    • Add text on an object;
    • Stamp the objects and make sunken patterns by extruding;
    • Separate parts of a model and export them as independent ones.

     

    Sample Files

    Workflow

     

    5 steps are included in the guide: 

    - Make a cuboid that hollows the egg;
    - Hollow the egg;
    - Decorate the surface of the egg;
    - Separate the machine parts;
    - Export models and print.

      

    Tutorial

    Step 1: Make a Cuboid

    1._____.gif

    • Import the egg.stl file.
    • Select Import, and Append the machine.stl file.
    • Hide the egg in the Objects Browser for the convenience of later operation.
    Notes
    • You can choose View - Objects Browser in the menu if the browser is absent.
    • When not satisfied with the operation result, you can undo it with “Ctrl+Z”.


    2.______.gif

    • Select Meshmix -> Primitives on the sidebar, and drag the cuboid to the workspace. Rename the cuboid by double-clicking it in the Objects Browser, if necessary (e.g. cube). 

    3._______.gif

    • Use the mouse and the ViewCube mceclip1.png (on the top right corner) to change the camera, and roughly adjust the size and position of the cube to make it coincide with the machine.
    Notes
    • If the control rods in the cube are absent, select Edit -> Transform on the sidebar to bring them up.
    • Besides dragging with mouse, you can type in numbers in the popup menu to adjust the cube precisely.

    4._______.gif

    • Select the machine in the Objects Browser, and choose Actions -> Set as Target in the menu to turn it translucent.

    5._______.gif

    • Adjust the cube precisely until it encases the machine perfectly. Select Accept when finished.

     

    Step 2: Hollow the Egg

    6.______.gif

    • Choose Actions -> Clear Target to restore the view of the machine.
    • Hide the machine in the Objects Browser.
    • Select the egg and turn it translucent through Actions -> Set as Target.

    7.____.gif

    • Select the cube and choose Edit -> Transform on the sidebar. Rotate and move the cube to the center of the egg.
    Notes
    • For a better printing result, the angles of the cube should not go beyond or get too close to the shell of the egg.
    • Do not overlap the cube with the hinge of the egg, otherwise the printed egg would not work.

    8.______.gif

    • Accept when the cube is in position. Choose Actions -> Clear Target and click on the eye icon to restore the view of the egg.
    • Select the egg in the Objects Browser, hold “Ctrl” key, and check the cube. A menu will pop up at the top left corner.
    Note
    • Do not change the order when selecting the egg and the cube. Egg first, and cube afterwards.

    9.____.gif

    • Select Boolean Difference in the popup menu.
    • Uncheck Preserve Group Borders and Auto-reduce Results to avoid an automatic smoothing for the model which may lead to damage or deformation. Choose accept when finished.

    10.____.gif

    • Turn the egg translucent in the Objects Browser, and check if the egg is properly hollowed.

     

    Step 3: Adding Text

    11.____.gif

    • Restore the view. Select Meshmix -> Letters, and drag a letter onto the egg.

    12.____.gif

    • Use the mouse to adjust the letter. The center of the control button represents position, while the ring is for orientation, and the arrow is for size. When finished, choose Accept.

    13.______.gif

    • Add all the letters needed.

     

    Step 4: Adding Sunken Patterns

    14.____.gif

    • Select Stamp on the sidebar. Left-click the target pattern, and left-click on the egg where you want to draw the pattern, then drag to adjust the size of the pattern.

    15.__.gif

    • Choose Select on the sidebar, double click the pattern(s) that you want to extrude.
    • Choose Edit -> Extrude under Select. Set the offset to make sunken patterns on the surface. Choose Accept when finished.
    Note
    • Do not extrude the patterns excessively otherwise the cavity or the hinge may be damaged.

     

    Step 5: Separate and Lay the Machine Parts

    16.____.gif

    • Hide the egg in the Objects Browser, and show the machine.
    • Click on the machine, and choose Select -> Edit -> Separate on the sidebar.
    Note
    • Some machine parts may be further divided into several pieces. Notice to check all of them before separating.

    17.____.gif

    • Select the machine in the Objects Browser again and continue separating the remaining parts.

    18.____.gif

    • When separation completes, select all the machine parts and choose Analysis -> Layout/Packing on the sidebar for a horizontal alignment.
    • Show the egg and move all the machine parts to a proper place through Edit -> Transform. Accept when finished.

     

    Step 6: Export the Models and Print

    19.________.gif

    • Choose and Export the models one at a time.
    Note
    • To export the models into a single STL file, check the models all at once and choose
    Export. But it will not allow you to adjust solely one part of the model when you are slicing before printing.

     

    The exported STL file can be sliced and printed with Snapmaker Luban software. For detailed instructions, you can refer to Chapter 3.3.1 to Chapter 3.3.3 of the Snapmaker 2.0 machine Quick Start Guide.

     

    3D Printing

    Before Starting, you need to rotate and position the models properly to avoid overhangs. See below:

    03.png

    It’s suggested to use Normal Quality mode in Snapmaker Luban to print.

    04.png

    The printing results using Snapmaker Original are as follows.

    05.jpg

    06.jpg

     

    Remix & Share

    Meshmixer is not the only option for editing STL files. Some tools that you might be more familiar with, let's say, Fusion 360, Recap and Zbrush are worth trying, too. You are welcome to share more useful applications with use if you’ve got some.

    07.png

    Well, what if I don’t want to put a machine into an egg? When you know how to use tools like Meshmixer, it’s up to you.

    We are going to create a topic in Snapmaker Forum for each term of Snapmaker Academy. Why not come and meet other passionate makers to share some brilliant thoughts and designs?

    Topic link: https://forum.snapmaker.com/c/snapmaker-showcase/……

    Oh, and wish you happy making!