When I first got my 3D printer, I didn't know anything about how it worked. I read a few articles and getting started guides, but I felt pretty lost. There was a lot of 3D printing jargon that made it hard to make my way all the way through any article about 3D printing. I felt like I was reading a foreign language. I trudged along and researched what each new word meant in the context of 3D printing, and I've collected much of what I've learned here.
3D prints sometimes have trouble adhering to the print bed. On the Monoprice MP Select Mini, or any printer where the print bed moves, this is a problem because the material that had already been printed will move with the print head instead of the print bed if the print loses adhesion to the print bed. On other printers, the edges of the print can curl up. In either case, the print will be ruined and valuable printing material wasted.
This cute dragon was printed with a raft and manually created supports.
Rafts are a couple of additional layers that are printed before the actual print that give the print a flat base to print onto. The idea is that on complicated prints, a raft will help to prevent the base of the print from curling or coming off the print bed and ruining the print.
Rafts easily snap off the base when it's done printing.
Here's what that cute dragon looks like after removing the supports (front left) and raft (front right). Much better!
Supports are additional vertical sections that are printed undeneath any parts of the print that are not directly supported by the rest of the print. These areas that do not have any support in the print itself are called "overhangs". Overhangs are a problem because if the filament doesn't cool immediately, then it can sag without any support. When you print with added supports, the extra sections of material will hold up the print and they can be easily snapped off after the printer is completed.
The hot end, or hotend, is the part of the 3D printer that gets hot and melts the filament. It includes the nozzle, I think. Anyway, hot ends eventually clog because the filament going through the hot end is sometimes dusty. That dust can get lodged in the hot end and clog it. When that happens, sometimes it's possible to clear the clog, but other times you'll just have to replace the hot end.
On My Monoprice MP Select Mini, the first thing I printed was a hot end adapter so I could replace the hot end with an
E3D HotEnd when it finally gets clogged.
The surface that the 3D print is printed onto is the "print bed". As the plastic cools, it shrinks and becomes less adhesive. This can cause problems when your 3D print detaches from the print bed and causes your 3D print to fail. To prevent this from happening, a heated print bed warms up to about 50°C. That way the printed plastic remains fairly close in temperature to the freshly printed plastic on the top layer and the whole print cools at the same time.
By making sure each layer is close in temperature to the layers above and below it, we can ensure that each layer shrinks at the same rate and doesn't pull away from any other layer.
Are there any other common 3D printing terms that I missed? Let me know in the comments!
I just got my own 3D printer, and I had no idea what to expect. I was excited and nervous, but mostly intimidated by a machine that could magically produce real, useful objects seemingly out of thin air. Here's what my experience was like.
Unpacking the Monoprice MP Select Mini was uneventful. The only assembly required was sliding the spool holder into a slot on the side of the machine.
Next, I had to level the print bed. I did that but turning all the bed-leveling screws clockwise a couple times to make sure the print head's nozzle cleared the bed everywhere. I then moved the print head near each of the four corners, but I made sure the print head was far enough away from the corners that I could easily access the bed-leveling screws. Then I tightened each screw one at a time until I felt a very slight bump from the nozzle when sliding a piece of paper under it. Finally, I snipped the end of the sample filament at an angle with a pair of scissors to give it a point and inserted it into the 3D printer.
I printed the cat.gcode model included on the SD card. The print worked the first time, but the sample filament was only enough for half of the cat to print.
I pulled out the last couple inches of the sample filament that didn't get used and replaced it with a roll of blue filament I had bought. I tried printing the cat model again, but the next two prints failed. The cat partially lifted off the print bed both times. Luckily, I was monitoring the print both times, so I was able to abort the print and save the printer from wasting any more PLA.
The third time I tried to print the cat with my blue filament was a success, and it came out beautifully. I'm really impressed with how well this $200 3D printer does considering its super low price. I'd highly recommend it for anyone looking to get started with 3D printing.
I'm looking for useful things to make with my 3D printer. Do you have any ideas for me? Let me know in the comments!
Photo by MKzero