3D Printing Instructions

Fall 2020 3D Print Request Submission Form

Please take a moment to read through these instructions before you begin your 3D print. Understand this page links to another page that provides more detailed step-by-step instructions, with images, for the second file conversion (slicing) step.

There Are 3 Steps For 3D Printing

  • Creating or Finding a 3D Model

  • Convert the model into a 3D Printer File (Slicing)

  • Level the print bed and launch the print


Icon showing a 3D cube famed by measurement ruler

Creating or Finding a 3D Model

In order to 3D print something, you first have to have a model to print. There are a couple ways of obtaining a 3D model:

1. The first is creating one yourself with  3D modeling software. We recommend starting with Tinkercad. Tinkercad is free but you have to create an Audodesk account to use it. Tinkercad is a great introduction to 3D modeling and is relatively easy to start with. There are a number of 3D modeling software to consider when you’re ready to try something more complex and powerful including, but not limited to:

  • AutoCAD
  • Blender
  • Maya
  • Sketchup
  • 3ds Max

2. You can also download 3d models created by other people form online model library sites. One of the most popular sites for finding and sharing 3D models is Thingiverse. Some other include Pinshape and Yeggi.

Whether you’ve created your 3D model yourself, or found it online and downloaded it, you need it as an STL file. Most, if not all, 3D modeling software packages will allow you to export as an .stl file. Online 3D model repositories will also allow you to download a .stl model of the file.

Icon showing a 3D cube inside of a piece of paper.

Convert the model into a 3D Printer File (Slicing)

The second step in the 3D printing process can seem a little strange. You need to take one file and turn it into another type of file. The reason being is that 3D printers need a set of instructions to turn your 3D model file (STL file) into an object. They do this with a set of instructions known as g-code. So we need to turn the stl file into instructions the 3D printer understands.

We do this with a program named FlashPrint. FlashPrint was created by the maker of our Creator Pro 3D printers, Flashforge. This step can take some time to complete and requires close attention to detail. For that reason, we ask that you take a look at this step-by-step tutorial on slicing via FlashPrint here: Converting Your 3D Model Into A 3D Printer File. Please follow along closely and be ready to take the time to do this properly.

An icon showing a 3D printer making shapes.

Level the print bed and launch the print

1. Level the print bed. From the main menu, select ‘Utilities’, then scroll and select ‘Level Build Plate’. The build plate will raise itself up and the print head will position itself towards the front and center. You’ll notice three screws with round, gray nuts holding the plate in place. What we want to achieve is to have the build plate and print nozzles spaced apart just about the distance of a business card. Take the blue leveling piece of paper, place the print heads above each of the three build plate screws and adjust the height so that the blue leveling paper slides between the bed and nozzles with just slight resistance. Again, do this for each of the three screws. If you need further assistance with this, feel free to ask a DLMC Media Mentor. An example video can be found here. This step is hugely important! A level print bed can be the difference between a successful print and a failure.

2. After Saving the sliced file to the SD card, eject it from the computer and insert it into the 3D printer. Use the up and down arrow keys to select ‘Print From SD’ on the main menu of the printer. Scroll to find the name of your file and press the center button to launch the print. We ask that you plan to stay at least 10 minutes after you’ve launched your print so you can visually watch and ensure the printing is going successfully.

If you notice something off when the skirt or raft is being printed, or during the first few layers, cancel the print!

If anything at all seems off, cancel the print. You may need to re-level the build plate, or make adjustments within the slicing process. If you need assistance, ask one of the DLMC Media Mentors.

More Information

To Convert your 3D model into the file format needed by the 3D printer, follow these instructions: Converting Your 3D Model Into A 3D Printer File

More information on FlashPrint can be found here, starting on page 16.

You can also always reach out to Kenny Wilson – Instructional Designer for Maker Education at: kjwilson@colgate.edu


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