If you just bought a Flying Tumaker or just want to learn how to use a 3D printer, this is your site since this section is an essential step-by-step guide on how to start printing with a Flying Tumaker.
Before starting, we have to clarify that to print in 3D several software is necessary. If our 3D printer has a built-in computer with the operating system TumakerOS, you are lucky because you will not have to worry about anything. You have everything you need to be installed so skip to the Step 0a section: Start the printer and enjoy the trip. Anyway if you want to know more about TumakerOS we have all the information entered in the section All about TumakerOS.
If we do not have TumakerOS, we will have to install and configure the software ourselves. The following link explains step by step how to install the necessary software to print: Cura and Repetier.
If it is your first time printing or you do not have much experience we recommend that you use PLA material and that you start printing one of the following pieces: link of pieces level 1.
Once the software has been prepared and the printer started up, we start with the journey. You will see that it is very easy to print and that we can create a multitude of objects.
Step 1: Get a 3D model
To print an object we need a 3-dimensional model in .stl or .obj format. We are sorry, but 2D drawings are not useful! 2D AutoCAD or pen planes were left behind a while ago 🙂 We have three ways to get a 3D model:
- If we know how to design: If we know how to design we have the power! We can create anything we want. To design in 3D, we can use any 3D software on the market as long as we can export it to .stl or .obj. In this same wiki, you can find information on design software that you can use to create 3D objects.
- If we have a scanner: We can digitize objects from our environment. The scanners export the objects to .obj format. In these cases we will have to analyze that the object is a closed solid, that does not have closed gaps and that is not a surface. If you do not have a scanner but you are interested in purchasing one, you can check out our Digibuu, you will find information about it in the wiki and in the online store of Tumaker.
- Download from the Internet: Everything is on the Internet! Do not worry if you still do not have a scanner or if you do not know how to design because the virtue of the Internet is that thousands and thousands of designs are shared freely and free of charge. There are many repositories where you can find interesting objects. To start somewhere we recommend that you take a look at the Tumaker account in Thingiverse;) But if you really want to do big and amazing projects …
If it is your first time printing, we recommend that you download the following objects from our repository. They are simple pieces that will help you get off to a good start.
Step 2: Prepare the 3D object (Cure)
When we say to prepare the object we refer to indicate to the machine how we want to print it . What we will do is use our 3D file in .stl or .obj, add the parameters and qualities that we want our physical piece to have, and save it in a .gcode format to send it to the machine. But do not be scared, we will go little by little. To know a little more about the world of the parameters we will use the Cura software for being a very intuitive and friendly software but we could calmly use other software such as Repetier-Host or Simplify for the same function.
We will begin by knowing the interface of Cura.
In Cura, we find two important parts, the part of the parameters where we can indicate how we want to print the pieces that is the white part on the left side of the panel and the part of the visualization of the piece in 3D represented with a blue grid surface to the right side of the panel. In this last part, we can redesign the piece with simple options such as scaling a piece, changing its position, or making asymmetry. We can perform these operations with the buttons at the bottom.
The option of scaling will be very useful especially if we have downloaded a piece from the Internet and the size it has is not to our liking or if we have forgotten to scale the piece in the design software.
In the upper part of the part viewing area, we have some shortcuts to open files and save them in .gcode format (remember that this will be our objective in this section).
The button to save .gcode files from the object display area to print is a dynamic button which means that it changes according to how we are using the software. We can have three different versions:
- Floppy: The button allows you to save as a .gcode file and for this, a window of a selection of saving destination is opened.
- Sd card: Like the diskette, a .gcode file is saved but it will be saved automatically on the pen drive or sd connected to our computer. This option will appear when we connect a storage device to the computer.
- Printer: Well, what the icon is a printer we are going to imagine … This icon allows you to print directly without saving the file. The icon appears when we connect the printer to the computer and configure the com port in Cura. In TumakerOS, this option always comes by default.
We do not recommend the option to print directly from Cura for several reasons. The first is that the file is not saved anywhere, which means that if we turn off another day if we wanted to make the same impression we would have to prepare everything again because we would not have a .gcode saved in the computer. The second reason is that once we send print with Cura we can not modify any of the options previously chosen. It is better to use Cura to generate the .gcode and print in Repetier-Host as we will explain in this tutorial.
We can also visualize the objects to be printed in different ways:
- Normal: It is the predefined display and the one used to rotate, scale and move the pieces.
- Overhang: Used to know if support will be needed or not. The cantilevered parts and the surface that is against the platform are colored in red.
- Transparent: With this visualization, we can better see the pieces of complex shapes and interiors.
- X-Ray: It detects design errors and illuminates them in red.
- Layers or layers: Shows the piece as it will be printed. It is used to observe the path that the printer head is going to make and detect if there are fill or layer errors.
The interface also informs us of the time it will take to print and the amount of filament that will be used for it, both in meters and grams. These data that are offered to us will change every time we modify something in the piece or change some value of the parameters of the left side.
Position the piece
Deposition printers have a limitation: They can not print in the air. When a piece has zones in the air we say that it has cantilevers. If the cantilever has an angle of less than 40 degrees, you will almost certainly need help to be printed so that you do not suffer printing errors. That’s why the first thing we have to do is position the piece optimally. We will use the Rotate option and move the piece to a position where we do not have cantilevers. We can use the Overhang display to notify us of possible cantilevered areas. In case you can not place the piece in a position without cantilevers do not worry. Later we’ll tell you a trick so this is not a problem.
Make sure you also scale the piece to the right size. To do this, use the scale option in which you can modify the size of the piece by percentage or by giving it a specific size.
Last, and not least, is to make sure that the pieces are printable. We have to make sure that the pieces that appear on the display are in yellow. If the color of the piece is gray it means that the piece will not be printed either because we have positioned it outside the printing area or because the size is so large that it leaves the printable volume.
Print with predefined profiles
Once we have the piece correctly placed, the next step is to indicate to the software what qualities the printed piece must-have. For this, we have the parameters section. In this section, we can indicate to the software if we want to print the piece quickly or if we want an exceptional quality if we want to make it hollow or tell the software how we want to make the overhangs. There are many options that we can control, you only have to look at the Basic tab or the Advanced tab.
To make everything easier from Tumaker we provide profiles with the values already established for each material and different qualities. The only thing we have to do is load ‘ the’ appropriate profile:
- If we do not have TumakerOS, first we will have to download the profiles.
- We enter the File section and click on an open profile.
- We look for the folder where we have saved the profiles and select the profile of the material we are using and the quality that we want. To start we can try the PLAmedia option
- We will see that the values on the left side are updated automatically. We have already configured it to print PLA at a speed and average quality.
Variables that need to be defined even if we use profiles
There are certain parameters that are specific to each printer and design that we want to print with what we can not predefine in the profiles. Next, we explain what sections we have to modify and what each variable is for.
- Support type: As we have said before there will be cases in which no matter how much we rotate the object we can not avoid having cantilevers. The support type section allows us to automatically create some scaffolding to deposit the material on it. The scaffolding is a very light structure prepared to be easily removed. Cura offers three support options:
- None (No): Does not place any support.
- Touching build plate (touching the platform): Will only support from the platform to the piece in the areas you need. In the case of the letter F of the image, it will not make any support in the upper cantilever because it is not in contact with the platform.
- Everywhere (everywhere): Will make support on all existing overhangs.
We will have to take into account that if the gap is too small the software will not create support since it will probably be more difficult to remove the support than to do the cantilever without help.
Platform adhesion type (a type of adhesion to the platform): In this section we allow us to choose different techniques to help the piece stay stuck to the platform. It is highly recommended for parts printed with ABS or Nylon.
- Note: Does not use any adhesion technique.
- Brim: Surrounds the first layer of the piece with more material creating a wide contour to achieve a good grip. If the piece begins to rise this extra material will generate opposing forces that prevent the takeoff.
- Raft: E s a gridded base layer on which the part is printed. In case of starting to detach the piece will be the raft the part that rises and not the piece. The only problem with the Raft is that it leaves marks on the bottom of the piece.
- Diameter (diameter): It is very important to indicate to the software the diameter of the filament that we are using. The more accurate the data offered, the better quality we will get. By default, the profiles predetermine the value in 2.85 but it is possible that the reality is something different. We need a digital gauge to measure the section of our filament with 2 decimals. It is not necessary to be measured in each impression but if necessary each time we change the filament.
Save the piece in .gcode format
Perfect, we just have to save our configuration. For this we have two options, the first is to click on the diskette or sd card button. If we have TumakerOS and the printer option appears by default but we want to save the .gcode file, we have to do it in a second way. Enter File and click on SaveGCode.
And ready! We already have our piece ready.
Do you want to know what the rest of the parameters mean?
Although the profiles already bring the most important values delimited we can modify them to adapt them to our liking or to indicate to the software particularities to take into account.
Parameters defined by profiles:
- Layer Height: Layer height is what we commonly call part quality. This value controls the height that each layer of the piece will have. The smaller layer, the fewer layers will be noticed but the time needed to print will also increase. It is recommended to start printing with the highest layer, 0.3mm since it is much easier and as we gain experience we will experiment with smaller layers.
- Shell Thickness (thickness of the perimeter): The thickness of the outer walls. It is advisable to place it as a multiple of the size of our extruder (Nozzle), that is, for our 0.4 extruders with a value of 0.8 it will generate 2 perimeters and so on.
- Enable retraction: Remove the filament when it moves without printing from zone to printing area so that no trickle of material is left along the path ( stringing error ).
- Bottom / Top Thickness (lower and upper thickness): All the pieces, although we give it a low filling, make the first and last layers totally solid. It is with this variable that we choose how much height we want to be solid. To choose the appropriate value, we will use the layer height as a reference. For example, for a layer thickness value of 0.3, the value 0.9 will generate 3 solid layers both below and above.
- Fill Density (fill density): With this parameter, we regulate the internal density of the piece. That is if we put a value of 100% would make a totally solid piece and if we put a 0% the piece would be totally hollow. We recommend printing with fillings between 20% and 60% but everything depends on the model to be printed, the use that will be subsequently, and the material used.
- Print Speed (speed of impression): This is a very important parameter because it controls the speed with which the printer goes to work. For the Tumaker Voladora, we will use a value of between 10mm / s to make slow impressions at 60 mm / s to make them fast.
- Printing Temperature: It is the temperature at which we are going to extrude the plastic. In general, they are usually 240ºC for ABS and 220-230ºC for PLA but we recommend keeping it at 0º since we will indicate the necessary temperature later in Repetier Host.
- Bed temperature: It is necessary to generate heat in the printing platform to be able to print with certain materials such as ABS or Nylon. Like the printing temperature, we will leave the value at 0º to be able to indicate the right temperature from Repetier.
- Flow (flow): Is the flow of material that must be provided by the extruder so that the printing of the piece is uniform and satisfactory. It is generally around 100%, but it can vary with materials such as flexible ones.
As you will realize as soon as you start printing many of the variables are related to each other.
Step 3: Fabricate (Repetier-Host)
Repetier is a program that facilitates the connection of the computer with the 3D printer and allows to control the movements and temperatures of the printer. We will prepare the printer so that it is printed optimally and we will see how to rectify the printing once started to have a good quality piece.
As in Cura, we have the part of the visualization of the piece on the left and the control of the printer on the right. As you can see, in the section on the right we have several tabs. We will only use the tab called manual control, which is the one represented in the image.
- Connect the computer to the printer: In the top menu on the left, we find the connect button. Whenever we want to send something to print, we have to make sure that we have the button-activated or colored in green. If it does not connect it will appear in red and we will not be able to give any order to the printer.
- Open .gcodes: As its name suggests it is to open the .gcode file that we want to print.
- Print / Pause: Activates the automatic mode and the printer starts to create the part indicated with the parameters of the .gcode. When we are printing the icon changes to pause. This option allows you to stop and resume printing.
- Cancel Printing: We will use it to stop the prints before they are finished. Unlike the Pause option, Cancel discards the print and we can not continue printing from where we stopped it.
- Home or house: The icons of the houses are used to move the axes to point 0. Each house with letter moves to the point 0 the axis indicated in the icon and the casita without letter moves all the axes to the point (0,0,0)
- Platform temperature: We are talking about the grid icon. Clicking on this icon activates or deactivates the heating of the platform. If the icon has a red diagonal line on it, it means that the heaters are off. Once we activate the icon we have to indicate the temperature that we want in the box on the right side and we can follow the progression of heating in the colored bar.
- Extruder temperature: The icon of the extruder with number one is for heating the extruder. In some cases, we will have two equal icons where one of the icons will have a 1 and the other a 2. With these two icons, we can control the different temperatures of the two heads of the V2x2 Flyers.
Connect and unlock axes
Before starting to do anything, we will connect to the printer by clicking on the Connect button. The printer will be ready to start printing. You may give us a connection error, do not worry, you just have to configure the printer following the instructions below.
For security the software keeps the axes blocked. To unlock the axes, we have to click on the little house without lyrics. You will see that the figures in the upper part, which in the beginning are in red, turn black. We can move the axes of the printer by hand by pressing the buttons with arrows. You will appreciate that the further away from the center we press the arrows the more distance we will move the axes.
Notice! The Z-axis works in the reverse direction. To lower the table, click on the upper arrow.
Upload the .gcode file
It is time to load the .gcode file of the 3D model that we have prepared in the software. For this, we use the File button, which is in the upper left. Once we have loaded the .gcode, we will see all the commands of the file written in the tab that bears the same name, G-CODE and you can also see the visualization of the layers of the piece that is going to be printed. We will press the Manual Control tab again to continue printing.
Now you know what’s inside the guts of a .gcode 🙂
Calibrate the warm bed and use the lacquer
Before starting printing, we must make sure that the platform, or hotbed, is at a distance from the nozzle of the head. This distance must be equal to the layer height that we have chosen but as it is not easy to measure a height of 0.3mm we have a tool to calculate an approximate distance: a paper sheet :). Therefore, to adjust that distance we will put a folio on top of the bed and move the head at least to three ends of it, making sure that we can take out the folio but that we notice the scratching of the head on the paper. To perform this process easily requires some practice so we have prepared a more detailed tutorial on how to calibrate the platform without dying in the attempt.
Once we have done the procedure in the three points and we have ensured that the bed is at the right distance, we can continue with the next point.
Heat the extruder and the platform
To print our 3D model, we must put to heat at the right temperature both the extruder and the platform There are three essential cases in which we must heat the extruder:
- To put the filament on the printer.
- To remove the filament from the printer.
- To print or extrude.
The temperatures will depend on the material that we are using; you can take a look at this table of temperatures to have a reference to the temperature that you need to put. In this case, to print with PLA, we will use 220º or approximately and we will not need to heat the printing platform. Remember that to start both heaters we have to click on the temperature icons of extruder platform and temperature and then indicate the temperature we want in the box on the right.
Place the filament in the printer
Once we have heated the head and we can place the material that we will use for printing. We recommend using PLA if it is the first time you print as it is one of the easiest materials to print. Although in the section How to remove and put the filament in the printer we have all the detailed steps we remember them quickly:
- We will place the coil in the natural position and introduce the tip of the thread through the hole of the extruder through the sponge. It is possible that at the beginning it is difficult to find the hollow of the sponge. It helps to cut the tip of the filament diagonally.
- While pushing the black lever, we push the thread through the white tube (Bowden tube) until the tip of the thread reaches the head.
- To move the filament through the head, we will use the button to extrude Repetier material until we see that it begins to fall from the nozzle.
It’s the moment we were waiting for! We can put the printer to work!
To put the machine to print, we must click on the Play button located in the upper left as shown in the illustration of the interface. During printing, we can cancel the printout using the button on the right Stop. It is important to monitor the first layers of the piece to verify that we have calibrated the table well and that the piece is adhering correctly.