Getting Started 2 – Now what?

So you’ve got your printer, calipers, filament, and you’ve put everything together, and everything powers on. Now what. Start printing dummy! 😀

Seriously though, start with calibrating your extruder.

Extruder Calibration

  1. Start your printer and heat the hot end to 210-220 C.
  2. Remove the bowden tube from the hot end on your printer.
  3. Feed filament through your extruder past the disconnected end of your bowden tube and trim flush.
  4. On your printer control panel, enter the motion control section and extrude 100mm. (Each printer’s menu varies a little based on firmware so you may need to hunt a little.)
  5. Once the filament extrusion finishes, measure from the end of the filament to the end of the bowden tube. Repeat this three to four times and average them.
  6. Now locate the current e-step value. Again, firmware and menus may vary so some hunting may be required. On Enders is usually under Control somewhere.
  7. Next, multiply the e-step by the expected amount of filament extruded. Then, divide the value by the actual extruded value.
  8. Input the new e-step value and store settings.
  9. Repeat to confirm results.

Bed Leveling

  1. Find the “auto home” function on your 3D printer and home all the axes.
  2. Once it homes, use the controls to move the hot end above one of the bed leveling wheels (located below the bed) or disable the x/y steppers and move it manually.
  3. Use the wheels to move the bed very close to the nozzle (say about 2 mm away) and repeat for each leveling wheel. 
  4. Using a piece of paper or a (.2mm)feeler gauge adjust the bed so the nozzle is barely touching the paper or gauge and repeat for each wheel. This may take several laps around the bed to get it to feel correct.
  5. Test print observing the first layer to confirm the bed is level.

XY E-Step Calibration

This formula comes back again!

Using this handy calculator – – we can very easily calibrate the x and y e-steps. Do this. Ill elaborate more later but get through with the instructions on the calculator if you can.

 Now you’re ready for more complex items.

Take a look around Thingiverse, 405th, Pinshape, Grabcad, and MyMiniFactory. See if you like any of the modes there. Try them out. Test the strengths of your materials and get a feel for the quirks of the printer.

Keep in mind, printing a gun or anything else that is going to be placed under any kind of physical stress is a dangerous venture and if you head down that path before you understand the forces at work you WILL injure yourself.
Print some various stuff. Play around with different materials. Break your printer a few times. With these prints the default settings in your software will be acceptable. But when you move onto printing gun related stuff be sure to read the readme for the appropriate settings to use.

Then check out part 3.

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