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Intro to 3D Printing

Finding free models

For most of us, our first model will be something pre-made and the two best resources for pre-made models are Thingiverse and Printables is a site designed for Prusa 3D Printer owners and, since our 3D Printer is a Prusa MK4, you will likely find these designs will work well on our printer. Some things to remember:

  • Pay close attention to the copyright warning on each object. Some of them are open source, free use, but others have restrictions.
  • When you find a model you think you’ll like check to see if other people have already made it
    • what do their prints look like?
    • what comments have they made on the object?
  • Also pay close attention to the suggested print settings by the model’s author. Often times models will only work with specific print settings.

3D printing important tips

3D printing is what we call “additive” printing. This means that the machine starts on the print bed and will print hundreds of different layers from the print bed upward. Models that have overhangs of more than 45 degrees will not print very well and may require supports. Models that have objects floating in space will not print at all without supports.

Familiarity with the Prusa Slicer Software

Patrons who want to prepare their 3D prints in advance on their home computer to save time using the Makerspace printer may wish to download and configure the Prusaslicer software from

  • General settings to get you started:
    • Run the configuration wizard
    • select the Prusa MK4 with Input Shaper
  • You can use the software to “cut” models into multiple pieces to help with printing and there are a lot of other functions available. Just ask the Makerspace staff if something is possible!
  • This software may also suggest supports when your model design is in danger of collapse without them. These supports can be removed after printing.
  • Here is a great outline with more detailed information for those just starting out using the 3D Printer in our Makerspace: Beginner’s Guide to Prusa MK4

Changing the filament

Before starting, ensure that the correct filament is loaded:

  • Press the knob on the Prusa printer to get into the menu.
  • If there is filament in the printer scroll to “Unload Filament” and then press the knob to select that fuction and scroll to PLA to select the type of filament. When the device heats to the proper temperature it will ask you to remove the filament. It is safe to do so at that time.
  • If there isn’t any filament in the printer or if you have completed the step above to remove filament you will now need to put filament in. Press the knob to get into the menu. Select “Load Filament” and then select PLA. When the nozzle reaches the correct temperature the computer will beep and tell you to add the filament.
  • Follow the prompts until filament is correctly loaded.
  • If you have problems with this step, please contact Makerspace staff.

Cleaning the print bed

Ensuring that the print bed is clean before each print is crucial to having the first layer of your model to stick to the plate. Oils, dirt, and past prints can cause the surface to lose its adhesion and increase the chance of your print to fail. Please don’t hesitate to speak to Makerspace Staff if the print bed is not clean and they will give you the materials to clean it.

Beginning your first print

Before starting on your first print, getting the right settings and your first layer to print is necessary for a successful project. From our own testing, a good starting point to start your print is with the following settings:

  • Bed Temperature on the first print: 60-65 C
  • Elephant footing compensation: 0.5
  • Main temperature: 220-230. After the first layer, temperature should be >= 230
  • Flow: Set it to 150 for the first layer, <100 for the rest

TinkerCad Tutorial

A simple and easy way to become familiar with 3D printing software is to try the following 3D model tutorial made by Tinkercad. Tinkercad is a free online 3D modelling software from Autodesk that is great for beginner and hobbyist designers. Doing this fast and simple print will help prepare you to move on to your own designs. This is also a good time to check on the quality of the print and make adjustments as necessary. Issues like warping and ghosting should be addressed here so that your future prints turn out well.

  1. Start the luggage tag tutorial:;collectionId=O2C1PXBIQ2KHCOD
    1. Go through the lessons
    2. In case you get stuck:
    3. Remember to export your model as an STL file
    4. You can always ask Makerspace staff to look at your model
  2. Print out your tag that you made

What if something goes wrong?

Some Other Resources

  • Tinkercad – Free three dimensional design program from Autodesk. Make sure you check out their tutorials under “learn” section to get started.
  • Blender – The most powerful open-source 3D modeling software on the market. If you’re serious about 3D modeling, this is your program.
  • Sketchup Make – Sketchup’s free version from Google. You will need to register to install the software on your home computer. This software is on all the computers in the Makerspace.
  • AutoCAD – AutoCAD is available on the Makerspace computers. It is Autodesk’s flagship 2D design for advanced users.
  • Fusion 360 – Fusion 360 is Autodesk’s 3D design software and is available on our Makerspace computers. This software is good for advanced users and manufacturing design.
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