With the 3d printer ordered, (See 3d Printing – Zero to Hero – Part 1) it’s time to round up all the supplies and accessories.
Supplies and Accessories
- A 32GB or smaller MicroSD Card, as the ones commonly included with 3d printers are notoriously problematic.
- Many people get a card reader extension to save wear and tear on the otherwise usually fragile built-in card reader. I’m going to go with the OctoPi route instead.
- Raspberry Pi 3B Plus, a second 32GB MicroSD Card, a webcam, and OctoPi from https://octoprint.org/
OctoPrint is a print server with a web browser interface for control, remote monitoring, and time lapse videos. OctoPrint is the software that ties it all together. The Raspberry Pi is essentially a cheap computer you can dedicate to drive the whole process without tying up your primary computer, as these prints reportedly take hours. However, if you have a spare computer or old laptop lying around, you could probably use that.
Most printers, including the one I ordered, include a starter spool of filament, however, it’s quality is usually unknown, and breaking it open complicates the return process should that be needed. So, order some:
- PLA: Nearly everybody starts with PLA. Since the provided slicer profiles are usually for PLA, it makes sense to start there.
- PETG: This has become more popular than PLA for it’s heat characteristics and is less brittle than PLA.
- TPE: While long Bowden tubes make it difficult to print flexibles, I found some TPE by 3D Solutech that looks like it is stiff enough to work. Read the reviews for tips on printing with this filament.
Adhesion and Cleanup
Check with your manufacturer to see what is SAFE to use on your build surface. Some options include:
- Adhesives: Hair Spray, Glue Stick, Painter’s Tape, or Nothing at All. Really depends upon the build surface and the Filament type.
- Cleanup: ISO-Propyl Alcohol, or just Detergent and Water to remove finger print oils and any other contaminants.
My printer came with all the necessary tools for final assembly, plus a pair of sharp diagonal cutters. A few other tools in your 3d Tool Box will be helpful.
- Calipers: Good accurate measurements will help get everything dialed in.
- IR Thermometer: Different build plates insulate or transfer more heat. It’s good to check what the surface temperature reads so you can compensate a couple degrees in your profile if necessary. The same goes for the hot end. It’s good to verify temps with an external tool.
- Brass Brushes: Apparently the spaghetti mess on the hot end will happen sooner or later, so it’s good to be prepared fro the inevitable cleanup.
Filament Storage and Handling
Humidity and Dust are apparently the issues to handle, both during filament storage, and during printing. There are a lot of “Dry Box” designs around for both. MatterHackers has a “PrintDry” product that is a repurposed food dehydrator with an apparently hefty markup.
They advocate printing directly from the unit while it’s “drying” your filament. They also have a chart for temperatures by filament type and expected drying times for a half roll, so be sure to check them out.
- That sounds like a great idea. However, if you’re 3d printing, you’re almost certainly a Maker / DIYer on a budget as well, so I opted for a much cheaper Food Dehydrator off Amazon and a 9″ Lazy Susan.
The Westinghouse model bounces from $65 to $35, depending upon the sale, while the Rosewill model is pretty consistently $35 and reviews suggest it’s popular with the 3d printing crowd.
If you “watch” the video “on youtube”, Robert has some of those times and temps listed by filament in his video description, and there are a few user comments that might be worth note.
Might want to check the temp settings with a thermometer with a probe like Robert does in the video above. Watch that the max temp on those cheap thermometers is high enough. Some are only rated to 50°C.
- Vacuum Bags are often cited for storage with some Rechargeable Desiccant thrown in, and either some Humidity Indicator Cards, or some cheap little Hygrometers. The vacuum won’t be powerful enough to dry the filament, but should keep new moisture from getting in.
*** Watch the ends of the filament which can puncture bags if left unsecured.
I’m hoping to keep the filament dry by storing it in Vacuum Bags, and printing straight from the Dehydrator, in order to avoid moisture and any long drying cycles.
- And to stay organized, you’ll probably want some sort of Storage Tote to keep your filament, tools, and everything together.
Next up, we’ll actually get to print something. Hurray! 🙂