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Getting Started with 3D-Printing

'Print Settings'

This is a 'best practice' to be aware of when sourcing 3D files online: designers and makers will often share the settings of their prints (typically the digital .STL file is shared alongside a "make" or "thing" - a physical proof-of-concept print). These are intended to give future-makers a baseline upon which to setup their print. The settings are not designed to say, "Do exactly as I did" but rather "This is what I did and is something for you to consider." There are no universal guidelines for what settings to share, but generally makers share the print's material, time, layer height, infill (percentage), and temperatures; additional settings are always appreciated. Below are some examples of settings shared online.

For example the maker of this baby Yoda thing only shared a few relevant settings:

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You can see they list their printer brand and model: a Creality Ender 5. This may or may not be useful data for you, but it is important metadata more broadly. Most importantly you can see they used PLA, with Supports, and a 20% infill, at a resolution of 120 microns. They don't list settings like temperature, move speed, retraction rate, etc. These are settings which over time you will want to pay attention to especially with complex prints or prints with unique geometries.

The folks at Adafruit always do a great job of visually displaying their settings in their videos. The screengrab below is from this one-minute timelapse video:

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They list a LOT more about their print's settings:

  • the printer model
  • the material
  • the total print time
  • the overall build volume
  • the layer height and the nozzle width
  • the infill percentage and the retraction distance
  • the material and bed temperatures (in Celcius)
  • the overall print material usage (in grams), and
  • the print speed.

‚ÄčWow - that's a LOT more data to consider! 

But it is just that: data to consider. Again these are baseline settings - recommendations from the maker. This is also a prompt: as you embark on the adventure of 3D-printing you too will want to keep track of your settings. You'll want to take notes or keep a log so you can reference the settings of successful prints. What settings you choose to record are ultimately up to you.

PRO TIP: when you're ready to go to print, write down or record your settings. If something goes wrong you'll be able to reference your log in order to figure out what to adjust, and if something goes right you'll be able to share those settings with others!