3D printers are changing the way that artists, designers, and engineers create and prototype their designs.
Instead of having to pay a significant amount of money to have your CAD designs and project boxes molded and manufactured at a company, you can print high quality plastics right from your desk.
In JBHT 237 we have 3D printers. These are both capable of using a number of materials for printing. As well as making high quality prints quick and efficiently. This tutorial is for the TAS 6 (to the left of the work station) and TAS6 mini (to the right of the work station).
Unlike traditional (2D) printers, these take a little more effort and configuration to get them working properly. However, this guide will hopefully answer any questions you have and help you get started.
As you probably know, 3D printers use melted plastic through an extruder head to create plastic objects.
Common printing plastics have melting points upwards of 190C (374F). Plastics like TGlase melt at around 240C (464F).
For a comparison, the average temperature which burns skin is around 80C (176F).
Luckily, only a couple of the parts on the printer get this hot.
The print head, often referred to as the “hot-end” is the most obvious hot part and special care should be taken to avoid touching it in general.
Another part, which is often overlooked is the print surface/base plate. It heats up around 60-100C (140-212F). This is to ensure the plastic does not cool too quickly and become warped or brittle. It cools down much slower than the print head, and caution should be taken to avoid burning yourself on it.
Luckily, the TAS6 will retract the base plate until the surface is safe to touch where it will then return the base to the forward position so you may retrieve your model.
Note: This guide assumes you already have an appropriate CAD model exported in .stl/.3df format
(there are plenty of tutorials online for obtaining these modeling files).
- Make sure the USB is plugged into the host machine. Since these printers are managed by the tech office in JBHT 440. These should be plugged in already and moved.
- Power on the TAS6. There is only one switch in the front.
- Start up CURA on the host machine. It should look similar to image 4 below
- Import your model using File->Open File(s)..
- Move and size your model(s) using the editor. Keep in mind, larger objects take exponentially more material, and therefore a lot of time, to print
Now that your drawing is staged and ready to go. The printer needs to be warmed up and the material needs to be primed.
Switch to the monitor tab in CURA and click the Connect button. CURA will attempt to connect to the printer.
If the printer is unable to connect. Make sure the USB is snugly plugged in and the printer is powered on.
Contact email@example.com if it still won’t connect.
Optional step: Change filament
If you are not going to change the filament, skip to the next section
Warning: Avoid using extreme force on the printer head when changing the filament.
- Make sure the surface is clear and the print head is high enough to have safe clearance for wiping the head. You can manually adjust the print head position using Z+ axis in CURA.
- Preheat the printer nozzle to a temperature slightly above the minimum recommended temperature listed on the filament (i.e. PLA is from 205ºC to 220°C).
- Wait for the hot end to heat up. You can check the current temp by either looking at the printer display, the pre-heat area, or the monitor graph (shown below)
- Once the hot end has reached the target temperature, a new option called ‘Change Filament’ should appear on the main screen. Click it. The printer should push the filament up and out of the extruder. Once out, pull the old filament carefully out of the extruder releasing the locking mechanism using the two spring-screws if necessary.Note: it is polite to cleanly snip the end of the old filament off so the next person to use it doesn’t have to worry about it.
- Once out of the extruder, pull the rest of the filament out of the guide tube and wind it back onto the spool. Replace the spool with the new filament spool that you wish to use by feeding it through the guide tube and back into the extruder releasing the locking mechanism as necessary as to not force it in. Once it is about an inch passed the gear lock, continue to the next step.
- At this point click continue on the main screen and the printer should begin pushing the filament down into the extruder. Allow the machine to purge all the old filament still in the print-head until all old filament has been extruded.
- Make sure the filament is loaded and lock screws are tightened properly.
- Make sure that the print area is clean and clear. A quick wipe with a dry cloth is usually fine for removing dirt
- Make sure if your object has any sort of overhang that you “enable structuring”. This can be done by going to the print options under infill and checking the option next to “generate support”. This should be checked by default, but it is always good to check. It will look like picture #4 below.
- Click the start print button. The printer head should move and the plate and hot end should begin to heat up.
- The printer will run a cleaning cycle which involves running the print head over the surface on the left side of the pad.
Following the head cleaning, the printer will level itself using the four corners of the build plate as guides
- If you selected skirt mode in CURA (this is recommended for most basic prints) you will see the printer draw an outline wider than the normal base of the print. This is to make sure filament is coming out before beginning the print.
- The printer will take a while, so feel free to work on other projects or get some food. Below are some progress pictures of a print.
- When the print is done, the head will lift up and the build plate will slide fully to the rear of the printer. The print is now cooling. Do not touch it The print surface will slide to the front when the surface has cooled to 50ºC.
- Use a flat knife (there should be one near the print station) to gently remove the print from the build plate.
- Use one of the cleaning pads to remove any residual print material from the surface. There may be marks, this is normal wear and tear and don’t worry too much about it
- When the print is finished, make sure the print head has cooled all the way back to room temperature and the build plate is cooler than 30C. Then switch off the printer