Before using your 3D printer for the first time, it is necessary to carry out several simple operations to ensure there are no problems during the printing process. Below you will find the main actions and checks to carry out to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Once you have taken your 3D printer out of its packaging (ask someone to help you), place it on a flat, solid surface: a table, a chest of drawers or the ground. It is recommended to keep the 3D printer in a well-ventilated room to reduce plastic fumes during printing with ABS filament.
Depending on the model, you may also have to manually install certain components, such as the platform, the reel stand or the filament guide.
Then simply plug the printer cable into the power supply and connect it to your computer, usually with the USB cable provided, or perhaps a USB stick, an SD card or a WiFi connection.
Then load the filament, after initially preheating the 3D printer. Depending on the models, loading the filament can be controlled from the control screen or with the printer software.
Once it is at the right temperature, load the filament and wait a few seconds for the filament to flow from the nozzle. The same actions can be repeated when you want to change colours or material (see the page about printing materials).
Another important point: calibration! Unless your printer has an automatic calibration function (such as the XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 or the Zortrax M200) you must check and modify the space between the nozzle and the different points of the platform. The procedure is different for each machine and is not particularly difficult. That said, be careful to calibrate your platform regularly.
There is one last step before your 3D printer is fully operational: the installation of the software (or slicer) of your 3D printer. Download it from the manufacturer’s website and follow the installation procedure.
Your printer is technically ready to go!
Your first print
When you have selected your first 3D file, import it to the printer software. It is at this stage that you must choose the print settings which will determine the quality of the object to be printed, in other words, the thickness of the printed layers.
Quite simply, you will have the possibility to choose default print profiles (precise, intermediary or rapid) unless you want to go straight to expert mode and change the advanced settings yourself. These include extrusion temperature, printing speed, layer thickness, infill density, etc.
The software also allows you to generate a raft or support structure. The raft is printed under the object for better adhesion and to make it easier to remove when printing is completed. As for support structures, they act as scaffolding for objects with overhanging or undercut elements which are not supported by the material.
The support structure required for printing a pair of glasses
Supervise progress regularly during printing!
Different problems can occur such as a tangled filament, the object not bonding to the platform sufficiently, a blocked nozzle, or “warping” or “curling”, which means the object retracts. This can be resolved by using a heated platform or placing a pad at each corner of the object.
That’s it – you’re ready to start your first 3D print!