The Ultimaker is a fantastic piece of printing technology, however 3D printing is not just like pushing a button on a photocopier ! As you get more and more into 3D printing you will start pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
Firstly we always recommend to start slow and build up your skills by performing a number of different prints using different settings. We have developed a fool proof way of building skills based on the following concepts.
- Step number 1 is to always consult your manuals, guides and ultimaker forums for the issue you are experiencing. It also helps to have your machine in good working order and keep it well maintained. It doesn’t matter how good a file you have or how well your settings are determined if your machine is not maintained well you will not get a good result.
- Always know where your 3D geometry file has come from. It’s best if you use your own file so you can guarantee the quality of what you model. But many new to 3D printing will start by using files found on the internet. Our tip is to make sure you get a good quality file that has been downloaded and printed many times. Make sure your conversion settings from your native CAD program to STL have been properly set up.
- Import into Cura and make sure you analyse the best orientation to print your part, taking particular notice of geometry that limits the amount of overhangs and support structure that may be required.
- Make sure you test your filament on simple shapes and different temperature settings for both the extrusion and heated bed so you know the optimal setting for your environment. It’s not uncommon to alter the temperature several degrees from recommended to obtain the best results. Also invest in an enclosure to better control the printing environment.
- The next thing you will want to experiment with is the layer heights and printer speeds for various print parts being, the bottom layer, inside, outside, infill etc… Our word of caution here is that 3D printing is all about balancing these settings against the time need to print and the end use of the part. Don’t be tempted to run at too fast a print speed or you will be unsatisfied with the results.
- Lastly lets mention a little bit on safety. 3D printers use heated elements and nozzles that can get up to 260 degrees Celsius. Never touch or allow anyone to touch the nozzle or they will burn themselves. Likewise the heated bed can get to temperatures of 90 degrees. Never introduce anything into the printing environment that may be flammable, do not use any oil based greases & lubricants on the hot end or flammable cleaners. Don’t allow people or children to place their hands inside the printing environment when the printer is running. It’s too easy for a hand or finger to get jammed by the print head. 3D printing may also take several hours to multiple days for the one print so make sure you are printing in a safe, secure and watched space so you can keep an eye on your print and ensure its being done safely. You may benefit from performing a Risk Analysis to ensure you are taking all the necessary precautions depending on your printing environments, home, office, workplace, lab, public space etc…Finally a word about the safety of the filament you are using. Always source filament from trusted suppliers and make sure they have safety documention describing the materials used in the manufacture and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that describe any safety concerns from using the filament.
As we have mentioned before there is a certain amount of skill involved in being able to create incredible prints and being able to reproduce them the same way every time.
Luckily for us there are some great resources on the Ultimaker printer platform that others have produced that discusses many of the issues you may encounter.