3D Printing School Of Knocks

Unless you are under age 20, there are probably things you know now that you wish you knew growing up. Even on hacker projects, it isn’t unusual to do better on your second whatchamacallit than on your first one. After all, you learn something each time and apply it to subsequent builds.

[James Lewis] (sometimes known as the [Bald Engineer]) has spent a couple of years with a 3D printer. He says that as of March this year, he had used the machine for about 75 hours. Since then his usage went up to 300 hours because he’s finally learned his lessons about how to get good prints.

If you are experienced, you might not be surprised at the first tip: level the bed. Don’t let that fool you, though. [James] has some good tips on advanced bed materials and print filament, too.

One of the most interesting tips is to use Simplify3D as a slicer. [James found the output quality from models sliced with this $150 product was far superior to that from the MakerBot software he’d been using. We wonder if Cura or Slic3r could produce similar results, but based on the pictures (see above), [James] is right about the default settings for the two slicers he tried. The two objects on the left were done with the stock slicer while the object on the right was with Simplify3D.

We had to wonder if the default speeds on the MakerBot slicer were fast or there was some other simple explanation for the quality difference. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the software “just working” with no tweaking even if it does cost $150.

If you are interested in learning more about Simplify3D, have a look at the video below (and you might find this forum post informative). We’ve talked about a lot of 3D printing tips before. One that [James] missed is to ensure your extrusion rate is correct. We’ve looked at exotic print materials, too.

15 thoughts on “3D Printing School Of Knocks

  1. I really should create an io page for my ‘halt 3D printing because it sounds weird’ idea. Anyone who has a good idea to do this please do. :)
    I am a beginner when it comes to coding so I only have ideas ATM.

      1. I respect the time and the quality of work that went into Simplify 3D and I agree it is a good application and probably worth the money. But I think the time and money would be better spent fine tuning the Cura or Slic3r settings and giving feedback and support to those groups to help them improve. You don’t have to code to help improve an application.
        (I didn’t mean to flag to report Al’s comment)

    1. I’ve played with Simplify3D a bit, as I know a few that have it. I think that ~95% of its advantage over Slic3r is just having more sensible defaults…

      Also, use the latest dev version of Slic3r.. The last released binaries are ancient and missing fixes for some quite important things.

  2. I like Cura (for the TAZ 6, anyway) because it has presets for many types of filament. I bought a copy of Simplify3D and “returned” it (which, despite their promises, was a pain in the ass to do) because it had only three filament presets and it was difficult and tedious to add more. If Simplify3D would fix that issue I’d give it another chance, but in my conversations with them they didn’t seem to think it was important. I bought the TAZ largely because of its flexibility with filaments, so the issue is important to ????????.

    1. Only three presets! Jeez, that really is disappointing. :(
      When I eventually buy a 3D printer I won’t know where to start. (With the exception of several excellent HaD articles. *wink*)

      1. The issue isn’t just that there are only three profiles (I know how to create new ones)—it’s that adding and managing them in Simplify3D is a huge pain. If you only want to use basic PLA or ABS, then Simplify3D is fine. If you prefer PetG (as I do), then good luck. Simplify3D’s answer is that you can request a custom copy with a particular profile baked in, a bandaid at best. It boggles the mind that they don’t at least include a mechanism to automatically load custom profiles when you launch the application.

        Fortunately we have Cura, which handles profiles beautifully.

  3. Yes that LH print definantly looks like a flow rate issue more than anything else – wrong filament diameter or calibration of the extruder lengths.

    My fist couple of prints looked like blobs till it dawned on me that I was using 1.75mm filament rather than 3mm I had entered into slic3r… Oops

    The First layer multiplier parameter had me going around in circles for a while wasn’t a problem for larger prints but small things never worked till I sorted that one out.

  4. Al, maybe he should watch a few YouTube videos. All this has been covered including slicer comparisons on my YouTube channel (filamentfriday.com) and others. There are many more features to S3D than this including the ability to slice the object differently in separate sections or processes. You can have 90% fill for a section then 10%, etc. The ability to selectively add or removed supports is useful as well. Even his good print could be improved. The temp, flow rate and fan blowing on the plastic (assuming it’s PLA) all could be improved.
    3D printing takes practice just like learning to solder and writing code. We’re not to the open the box a make perfect prints stage but getting closer everyday.
    Facebook has many 3D printing groups that share setups for Cura, slicer, S3D and others plus forums on Reddit and elsewhere. You don’t have to spend $150 to get good prints but once you use S3D most people won’t go back.

  5. Simplify3D is a great slicer with lots of useful features like the ability to preview every line or layer, but it it does have its shortcomings. Lack of a PETG preset, as mentioned previously, is a real pain. I can’t say how many hours spent on getting eSUN PETG just right or the 3DX Tech PETG filament that I still haven’t dialed in yet.
    I really like Simplify3D, I was able to produce very good prints on may TAZ 4 and TAZ 6 printers right from the start. Here are my Pros and Needs Improvements:
    Preview Mode: by line, layer and walk through every motion of the print.
    Settings: Lots of adjustment available
    Multiple Presets per print: Ability to print two models with different presets
    Adjustable by Layer: temperature, cooling and layer thickness across one or more models (this was my reason to purchase)
    Multiple Models: Copy, paste and group models

    Features lacking or need improvement:
    Presets: I don’t find the presets very useful and don’t use them. Every part I print is slightly different and needs a little tweak, I just save the ‘Factory File’ that includes the part and all settings. Simplify3D really needs to rethink their approach.
    Published presets: Working presets for popular printers and filaments- like TAZ 6 + Ngen, T-glase
    Process Settings: Very useful but get tired of clicking through the menus to get to the last setting I was adjusting – how about a switch to go back to ‘last position’?
    Preset Comparison: it would be nice to be able to see differences between previous settings, right now I have to open two instances and go through each setting one by one.
    Notes and version: Sometimes I make a small change and want to make a note in the preset “.15 layer height with .2 vertical lift, or printed well, or terrible mess”, Work-around is a ‘Save as’ versions of the preset ‘ Support Brace PETG, .25 80% #2.factory’
    Wishful Thinking:
    Filament Characterization Wizard: It would be extremely helpful for a function to print a matrix of simple models with numerous incremental settings: a tower with 5deg temperature changes, bridges with 10% incremental extrusion and print speed, and an intricate figure with incremental layer and width settings, to name a few examples.
    Cura Lulzbot edition: Ability to import Simplify3D .factory files, I’d like to play around with Cura but don’t want to start from scratch.

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