TinkerMill has a variety of 3D printers available for your use. Some require additional training for use (SLA printers), but general-purpose plastic printers can be used by anyone.
- 1 Basics
- 2 Available Printers
Quick Start Guide
If you want to get printing right away, you can use one of the Dell laptops in the printing area. The software that's preferred for slicing and printer control is Simplify3D.
Simply import your desired STL(s), select a profile for printing (the default is JV_FFCP2). After the part is sliced, you can either print directly to either of the CreaterPro printers, or export the gcode to an SD card. There are several on the bench for your use, please do not take the SD cards home.
It is ideal if you can stay around to watch a print, however, unlike most machines in TinkerMill, the 3D printers may be ran unsupervised as prints can take many hours to complete. In these circumstances, please leave a note on the machine with your name and telephone number and make every effort to retrieve the parts when the print is complete. Unattended parts will be discarded.
Plastics cost about $0.10 per gram. There are two small AWS scales for weighing completed prints and print attempts. There is a jar where users are expected to donate money for all attempted prints.
Please allow parts to cool for about 15 minutes once a print is complete. It will be easier to remove once cooled.
There are a variety of printers available for your use. The B9C and formlabs SLA printers require extra training for use.
FlashForge Creator Pro (FFCP)
There are two of these printers available for use. These are dual-extruder machines and there are laptops available for slicing/printing.
The manual for this printer can be found at the following link: www.flashforge-usa.com
The printer has a Diabase dual extruder. The quick setup guide can be found at this following link flexionextruder.com. These instructions are also taped to the wall behind the printers. The quick guide cited in the link has been copied here:
- Before initially loading filament, loosen the set screw that contacts the cam surface of the dial. Set the dial to position 1. Tighten the set screw until the drive roller makes contact with the idler roller. Do not heavily torque the set screw, just tighten it using the shank of the allen wrench.
- Rotate the dial to position 4. (Confirm that the dial rotates between 1 and 4 without binding. If it binds, loosen the set screw a small amount.) At this point, you’re ready to load a filament and print. Use position 1 for very soft materials (Like Jellyfish or Ninjaflex), position 2 for moderately soft materials (like SemiFlex), position 3 for moderately hard materials (like ABS), and position 4 for very hard materials (like filled PLA). Set the correct dial location before loading filament.
- Load filament. With the dial at the correct setting and the extruder at the correct temperature, run your printer’s normal filament load cycle while you gently push the filament into the entrance liner.
- Prepare to print. Do your normal print setup routine (build platform prep, acetone clean, application of bonding agent, preheat, etc). Everyone has their own depending on their printer and the seriousness of their OCD. (See our printing tips section for some useful tricks and methods).
As an important note, do not swap between plastics with significant temperature differences (e.g. ABS v.s. PLA) without cleaning the extruder first. Swapping between plastics can lead to an accumulation of material in the extruder, preventing extrusion.
Heated Bed Care
Over time, the heated bed may need to be adjusted or cleaned. Please do not touch the platform directly, as oils from your hands can make adhesion difficult.
Bed Leveling The Quick Way
Once the filament is set up and the printer is ready to print, adjust the wingnuts on the bottom until you get good adhesion. The plastic should be mostly flattened and completely stuck to the surface. It might take a few iterations to get there, especially if you have a large part. There are some calibration objects on www.thingiverse.com that can help level a larger area of the platform without using up a lot of plastic. In most cases only some fine-tuning as you print the first layer of your part will be sufficient.
Bed Leveling The Hard Way
There is a bed leveling utility built into the FFCP that you can navigate to using the five-button interface on the printer. Use the down button to reach the second page and select Utilities->Level Build Plate. It will send the Z-axis to its home position, then move the extruder to the center of the platform. The motors to the X-axis ad Y-axis are turned off and you can then move the head around.
Using a ~0.1mm thick shim (a standard piece of paper is close), adjust the trio of wingnuts under the bed until the extruder(s) just barely catch on the paper. Do this on all four corners and the middle a few times and the bed will be level.
This is the suggested bed leveling method in the flashforge documentation, as well as the reprapwiki, but this process can take a lot of time to get right, so it's only really suggested if the build plate is far off.