Simplify3D is a 3D printing software that is used to translate 3D models (usually an .stl file) into printing instructions (.gcode file). This involves slicing the 3D model, or dividing it into horizontal layers and generating toolpaths for those layers.
We use Simplify3D to print on the LulzBot and the Makergear M2. Simplify3D allows control over many variables in the printing process, such as the temperature of the extruder and heated bed, speed of the print, and the addition of rafts or support structures.
Basic Printing Instructions
Follow these instructions for simple one-time prints.
Note: While these instructions are easy to follow, the printers are very finicky and there are a lot of things that might go wrong and disrupt a print. If you are a first-time printer, we recommend printing during open hours so a Makerspace consultant is on hand to help you troubleshoot. Also, make sure to refer to our LulzBot and MakerGear pages for common printing problems and solutions.
- Import the 3D model(s) you want to print. This can be done by pressing the import button in the panel on the left, selecting Models > Import Model at the top menu, or pressing Ctrl + I. You can import as many models as you would like to print, as long as they all fit on the printing bed.
- If necessary, make adjustments to the models by double clicking them and changing the parameters under Absolute Positioning, Object Scaling, and Rotational Offsets.
- Connect to the printer you want to use. First make sure the printer is turned on. At the top menu, select Tools > Machine Control Panel or press Ctrl + P. To connect to the LulzBot, go to the port menu and select COM3. To connect to the M2, select COM4. Press the connect button.
- Back in the main window, click Prepare to Print and select the appropriate printing process. There should be preexisting processes for PLA and ABS prints on both the MakerGear M2 and the LulzBot TAZ 5.
If you are using a different material with different settings, you can create a new process by pressing Add. An FFF Settings dialogue window will pop up. The temperature settings can be adjusted under the Temperature tab. Double click the numbers to edit them. When you are finished, press OK.
Note: If the printer you are using has blue tape on the heated bed, the process setting for the temperature of the heated bed should be 0.
- On the main window, click Begin Printing over USB. The print should start after the extruder and the bed heat up to the correct temperatures. You can always return to the previous window and readjust your process settings by clicking Exit Preview Mode.
- If your print begins to fail, stop the print by clicking Pause (which will allow you to adjust your print and unpause), Stop (which will not), Emergency Stop (if stop fails), or powering down using the physical switch on the machine (a last resort).
- Once the print has completed, use a putty knife to pry your print away from the machine and remove any support material. The bed and extruder head may be hot.
Printing by Saving a .gcode File
If you prefer, you can print a model by converting it to a .gcode file, saving it, and importing it into Simplify3D’s G-Code Library. You should do this only if you plan to repeat your print in the future.
Models can also be sliced using KISSlicer, Slic3r or another slicing engine. In this case, skip right to step 5 and import your .gcode file to print it.
- Import your .stl file to Simplify3D.
- Click the Prepare to Print button, select the appropriate process, and click OK.
- On the main window, click Save Toolpaths to Disk to save your .gcode file.
- Open the Machine Control Panel and connect to the printer you want to use.
- Navigate to the G-Code Library tab of the left pane of the Machine Control Panel, click Add to Library, and import your .gcode file.
- Select your .gcode file and click the Run Selected G-Code button. The printer will take a minute to warm up and then begin to print.
- Once the G-Code file has been added to Simplify3D’s G-Code Library, you should be able to run your print without having to repeat steps 1-5 in the future.