[GUIDE] First start of the 3D printer – All necessary steps

Here you are, the first start of your 3D printer. You bought the printer in Kit, maybe one of the ones we reviewed. You followed the right mounting tutorial on Youtube and the assembly is finished. And now? 3D printing at this point has a small gap, where a user who is not familiar with these processes can get lost.
In this short article we try to explain the last steps you still have to take to be 100% operational with your new toy.

First start: Step 1 – Connect the printer to PC

First start

After the end of the assembly/positioning of the printer, connecting it to the PC is the first thing to do. Through the dialogue programs we will be able to test the various movements. The dialogue between the machine and the PC also allows us, if necessary, to make a series of “fine adjustments”. For example, the calculation of the PID, the regulation of the quantity of filament, the regulation of the nozzle-plate offset and many others.
This basically allows us to control the printer through Gcode, the machine language.

Having the printer connected is also essential for replacing the firmware. Firmware is the set of basic information contained on the motherboard. Dimensions, distances and options are stored in this software. An upgrade to a new device such as the end of filament sensor or level probe will result in a firmware update. You will need to install a new one that has the required code lines inside.

In this article I explain in detail the steps to be taken to connect the 3D printer to the PC. In summary, I report it here too.
First of all, since almost all printers work with Arduino, you have to download the Arduino software. Don’t forget to include USB Drivers in the installation.
These drivers will be used by the program to recognize your card and connect it to your computer. Now choose the card, the COM port in use and here we are done.

Another indispensable (and free) program is Repetier Host, the dialog program. Once downloaded, insert the right printer and communication port. Connect the printer.
If you have done everything well your machine will be connected and you can move the engines and heat the various parts of the printer by software.
Use the appropriate button to send the Z-axis to the home of the printer and rejoice, step 1 ends here!


First start: Step 2 – Leveling the printing bed

Restart exactly where you left off your printer, so in home z. Now send in home also x and y and start the levelling of the plane through a sheet of paper. I’ve already covered the topic through a focus in this other article

Basically it’s a matter of tightening the screws of the plate enough not to cause the nozzle to crack against the “bed”. Now we are with the hotend in home about 2mm/1cm from the platter, in the home position. We loosen the 4 screws of the platter until we find ourselves passing a sheet of paper “just right” between the platter and nozzle. When the distance is right, the sheet of paper will flow, emitting a slight rustle, almost imperceptible to the ear. You have to repeat this operation as many times as you can, at the corners, in the center and at random points, until you have the plate perfectly leveled. Leveled means to find the same distance in every point of the plate, between the plate and the nozzle.

NB: if your BED is slightly loaded, since it is tenths of a millimeter, levelling is not possible. Rejoice, however, because this problem can be easily solved with a minimum expense. You can buy a glass or a mirror. These materials do not bend easily and are rectified with minimal errors, certainly will suit you!

First start: Step 3 – Setting the Slicer

First start

If you have not already done so before starting the printer for the first time, you must install the slicer. In the section dedicated to the 3d printing software of the Blog you can find many, almost all of them can be downloaded for free. According to your preferences you can try and study them.
Personally, I prefer Cura, performing, free, it offers all the functions that an amateur user could want.
With the third version, a series of options have been added that have made it more performing.

If you want to opt for this slicer, through a series of 4 guides you can quickly learn all the notions and take full control of this software in a short time.
The first guide covers the installation and creation of profiles. The second guide explains the work area, the third guides the printing settings. The fourth and last guide will deepen the special modes and reveal some little tricks.

  1. Installation and creation of printers, materials and profiles
  2. The working area
  3. Print settings
  4. Special modes and some little tricks

Is there also a Simplify 3D guild for the ones prefere this Slicer:

  1. Work table and models 1/3
  2. Menu and Toolbar 2/3
  3. Print Processes and Start 3/3

First start: Step 4 – Find templates for printing

Following the 3 points above the only thing left to do is to print! Sometimes understanding where to find models is problematic, as well as understanding which ones to choose as first.
In this we meet the Web, offering us many virtual warehouses where we can find printable models. A printable model is any file with the extension *.stl or *.obj.
These warehouse sites are many, some are thematic, others are real markets where to sell and buy models. Here are described the 20 most supplied and famous warehouses of 3D models.

To begin with, however, the prints to do are essentially 2: the calibration cube and the boat Benchy.

First start First start First start

Calibration cube

Once discharged, feed it to the slicer. The recommended print parameters at this time are an infill of not less than 20%, a print speed of not more than 60mm/s and a closing layer of not less than 6. With these settings, you should not encounter any errors. If you notice malfunctions, you can find the cause and solution among the common problems.
When you’re done, you’ll need to measure the cube, using a gauge to verify that the measures reported are faithful to those of the project.


First start

If we want to go further, we can move on to Benchy. Let’s not be fooled by the simple and cute appearance of the model. This is a real stress test, which brings to light any defect that our printer may have. It’s been specially designed to make the printer perform every possible combination of movement, or almost.
Even just a visual analysis of this little boat will already give us a lot of information on the quality of the print we have achieved. Nevertheless, we can deepen the “eyeglass” examination through a series of analysis of details and measurements. You can read this article, which reveals all the secrets that this nice little boat carries with it.

Congratulations, now you have all the information you need to start this adventure in 3D printing!

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