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3D printing opinion piece

I spent 3 weeks with a 3D printer, here is what I learned

I recently got into the world of 3D printing and have learned so much through research over the last few weeks. It’s only been three weeks since I bought my very first Anycubic printer (after being tempted by a Black Friday deal on the Anycubic Kobra 2 Neo), but I feel like I’m finally getting to grips with it how these devices work. But there are a few things I wish I knew sooner!

That’s why I’ve put together a few of my hard-earned top tips for anyone looking to buy one of the best 3D printers as a gift this Christmas. I have a little confession. Although I purchased the Anycubic Kobra 2 Neo, I canceled the order from Anycubic the next day and placed one for the Anycubic Kobra 2 instead because I looked through the reviews and felt that this device was a bit pricey for the slightly higher price is better suited for the builds I wanted to create and also with improved printing speed.

Anyway, now without my conscience, let’s get into the things that no one really prepares you for when you start 3D printing and some hot tips I learned in my first few weeks with the Anycubic Kobra 2 Neo entry-level 3D printer.

1. Slicing and Code

Opinion piece on 3D printing

I use the Anycubic Slicer on my laptop (Image credit: Beth Nicholls / Creative Bloq)

Not all 3D printers work the same way and my Anycubic Kobra 2 doesn’t work well with STL (stereolithography) files – which I found out the hard way.

If you are looking for an open source file for 3D printing, such as with Thingiverse or Printables, they usually come in the form of an STL file, which is a 3D model file, which are often not printed individually can .

When using a 3D printer, G-Code is the default language and preferred file type for most 3D printers. It is used to give the printer precise instructions on what to do regarding extruder heat, nozzle, and print areas.

Fortunately, it is very easy to convert STL model files into a printable G-code format using a process called slicing or using “slicer” software. My Anycubic Kobra 2 came with Anycubic’s slicing software on the included microSD card, as well as the Prusa slicer, which is a bit more advanced.

Once this software is installed, you can view the 3D model in a three-dimensional format and make any changes by adding/removing supports (more on this later) and dividing the print into manageable sections for your printer. You’ll need to know cutting if you want to create your own designs and original 3D prints, but I’m not there yet.

2. Supported

As I just mentioned above, in most cases you will need to build supports into your 3D model and 3D prints so that they are solid and stable. You can’t print on thin air, so supports are important to ensure your design prints properly if parts protrude or extend beyond a 45-degree angle.

These support structures may take the form of breakaway supports, tree-like supports, zigzag supports, or linear supports made of vertical columns. You can also get dissolvable carriers made from water-soluble materials that disappear, but you will need a printer with a dual extruder to remove them. There is an excellent guide to understanding pressure supports on the All3DP online website if you need further advice.

However, there is also a downside to using supports, as I recently discovered with my latest large model: they can be so difficult to remove, risking damage to your print and causing minor injury (yes, really – see picture 5). in the gallery above). I used tree supports in my latest 3D print, courtesy of Peter Farell via Printables, and found that I needed additional tools to remove them.

Not all print files you find need additional support as some people are very clever and have remixed other creations to improve them without the need for support. But since I’m not a designer, I trust the original artists and whatever settings my slicing software recommends. It also displays warnings if your print is predicted to fail. This is extremely useful for saving time, frustration and materials.

3. Filament options

Opinion piece on 3D printing

Cubone Pokemon Skull Keychain courtesy of Glacial via Printables. (Image credit: Beth Nicholls / Creative Bloq)

Speaking of materials: It sounds silly, but I recently learned that you don’t have to use the manufacturer’s filament for your 3D printer (although it is recommended). I started out exclusively using Anycubic’s own brand filament and that really helped me learn, but there are plenty of alternatives with great reviews that I’m excited to try next.

For example, you can get silk filaments, glow-in-the-dark filaments, and even two-color rainbow filaments from Amazon sellers like ERYONE and ISANMATE, each of which have received thousands of positive reviews and have been used by others with my exact same printer without any problems reported.

4. Pause

Opinion piece on 3D printing

Günther the Flexible Stegosaurus, courtesy of AndreasJoskaSutanto via Printables (Image credit: Beth Nicholls / Creative Bloq)

Another option that may sound obvious to some, but was a complete learning curve for me, was understanding how to stop a 3D printer mid-print without losing your masterpiece. My Anycubic Kobra 2 is quite loud when the fan speed is set to 100%, and our gaming room is just a few feet from our bedroom, meaning if I left a printer running all night we would be up all night .

The solution I found for this was to pause printing (there is a button on my printer’s screen) and then once progress appears to have stopped, go into the printer settings and set the fan speed to 0 as well as the print bed heater and change the extruder temperature to 0 as well. Next, leave your printer on – do not press “stop” or unplug the printer – and there you go.

A quick internet search revealed that it’s OK to press “Pause” on a print and then turn the printer off for the night, but ONLY if you have activated the McroSD card on which your G-Code File is saved (which I had). not yet). I didn’t want to risk losing my print’s 30+ hours of progress, so I still need to test this theory, but I’ll definitely do it with a smaller print without wasting filament.

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