3D printing is one of the most exciting aspects of STEAM education, but it can seem intimidating to the uninitiated. This article will describe the entire 3d printing process with special considerations for incorporating them into your FUSE studio.
Just remember that you are not alone on your journey. If any questions come up along the way you can always reach out to the FUSE team for help by reaching out on Slack, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Before You Get Started
Prusa 3d Printers
The Prusa MK series of printers are known the world over for their ease of use and reliability. This FDM style printer requires minimal preparation and maintenance. They even ship with a bag of gummie bears.
If your machine has never been used, check out the PRUSA UNBOXING GUIDE. Try to find a stable surface to set your machine on and try not to move the machine once set up. Check that there is enough clearance behind the machine so that the printer bed and it's cable can move all the way to the back without being obstructed. Keep the accompanying box of small parts somewhere accessible. Save the packaging material if space allows.
If you need to unload old plastic or load new plastic, CLICK HERE. It is best to open a new roll of plastic only when it is ready to be used (the plastic will show signs of degradation about 6 months after the package is open).
Dialing it In
Calibrating your machine is critical to success. Overlooking the adjustment of your machine's Z Axis is the leading cause of unsuccessful printing attempts. For more information about the First Layer Calibration you can watch how it's done by CLICKING HERE.
While the vast majority of issues can be resolved with a good First Layer Calibration, inevitably something will happen that is out of the ordinary. Clogs, defective or broken parts, and old plastic filament are among the culprits. When encountering issues, pay close attention and take note of what you were trying to do when the error occurred, anything you may have have seen,heard, or even smelled, and any error messages that may have come up. Provide as much information as you can on Slack, or emailing email@example.com , and be ready to get your hands dirty!
From Design to Printed Part
There are several challenges that will instruct a student to design a part to be 3d printed. This is where the student's responsibility ends unless you decide to involve them in other aspects of the process. Your goal should be to eventually have your students in charge of the entire process.
After a student has finished designing their part they will be asked to export their design in .STL format. Directions within each challenge will explain to students how to save the .STL file, but it will be up to you to determine where you want the students to save the files and the method you will use to get them into your slicing software. Some schools ask students to save the .STL file to a USB Flash Drive, some use Google Drive, and some use Airdrop among others.
Once you have the .STL file in hand, run it through the Slicing software called "Prusa Control". This software prepares the file for 3d printing by allowing you to arrange your part or parts on the print bed, choose your printer settings, and convert your file to .GCODE . For instructions on how to use Prusa Control to "slice" the design, CLICK HERE.
Once slicing is complete, save the .GCODE file to the SD card provided with your 3d printer.
Load the SD card into the slot on the left side of the LCD screen. Turn on the printer, press the front knob to enter the main menu, scroll down and select "Preheat", then select "PLA".
Once the nozzle temperature reaches around 200 Celsius (indicated in the first row of the LCD), select "Load File from SD Card" from the Main Menu and select the file you want to print. The parameters outlined in the challenge should keep each student's design small enough to be printed in 30 minutes or less.