Everybody that purchases a 3D printer starts at the same place with little to no experience. There are honestly very few things that need to be considered when setting up for your first 3D print and I think that most will find that this is surprisingly easy.
3D printing is not hard to learn. If you boil 3D printing down to its individual components there are really only a few simple steps to successfully creating your first 3D printed parts.There is not any coding or modeling experience needed for 3D printing
If you can use a computer and operate a simple machine like a microwave then you have all the experience that you need to run most 3D printers. You should not be afraid of setting up a 3D printer with no experience, especially if you follow this step by step guide.
A Step By Step Guide To Your First 3d Print.
What do we need to know? There are really only a few steps that you need to know how to do when setting up your first 3D print. I am going to break it into steps and try to walk through it very slowly!
Step 1 – Choose A 3D Printer.
There are hundreds of 3D printers on the market but depending on your end goal there is one that stands above the rest for a starting out 3D printing hobbyist, the Creality Ender 3 V2.
This is a relatively cheap machine at under $300 and it will give you the ability to cover many of the 3D printing disciplines before moving to a more complex machine.
Step 2 – Set Up Your Printer.
If you are buying a kit there are so many instructional videos that are extremely helpful. Go to YouTube and search “How to set up an *ender 3*” or insert your own 3D printer between the asterisks.
Step 3 – Choose Your Filament.
Choose the filament that suits what you are creating. If you are just starting out then I would suggest using PLA due to it being the easiest filament to print with. If you are needing a stronger print start with PETG.
Make sure to go ahead and load your filament before moving on.
Step 4 – Choose A Slicing Software.
On your computer, you will need to download a slicing software. Your slicing software is basically the engine that will do all the hard work for you and there are many free slicing software options on the market. I use Cura for all my slicing which is free and is user-friendly.
Select your printer in the software (this is so the software knows your build volume). For your first 3D print I would not change any of the settings, just select standard quality and over time you will grow in your understanding of what all the settings do.
Step 5 – Choose Your Model.
For your very first 3D print you should not select a model that is complex and hard to print. I have actually already created a guide to follow to hone your 3D printing skills.
There is really no right or wrong answer for your first 3D print but you can really discourage yourself by selecting things that are too complex before you are ready.
If you are wanting to create your own designs I suggest using Fusion360 as a great free option.
For the rest of the steps, I am going to assume that you are printing Benchy.
Step 6 – Slice Your Model.
Import your Benchy model into your slicing software. Most software will allow you to drag and drop the model into the slicer. Once your Benchy model is in the slicer (you don’t need to change any settings) click the slice button, save your G-Code, and transfer the file to your 3D printer via micro SD or whatever your printer uses.
Step 7 – Level Your Printing Surface.
There are also hundreds of videos on how to do this so I am not going to spend very much time on it! This is also probably the most critical step.
More expensive machines have self-leveling and will do basically all the work for you. You can purchase attachments for more affordable machines like the Ender 3 that will assist you in leveling the bed. Auto Bed Level is a feature that a lot of people think that they can not live without but honestly, I have been doing it for such a long time and I can tell you from experience it is not that hard and really doesn’t take that long.
How to level the print surface on an Ender 3.
In the machine controls. Prepare > Auto Home > *Wait for the machine to reach home position* > Disable Stepper. At this point, your 3D printer is at its home position and you can then adjust the height of the leveling knobs until you reach the desired height at all 4 corners.
There are also bed level programs that are very handy as well. Typically, they print a perimeter around your build surface to make sure that you are getting proper adhesion over the whole surface. If you run one of these bed leveling programs and you are able to run your finger over the printed line and the filament moves from its original position you are not getting good bed adhesion.
Step 8 – Bed Adhesion.
For Benchy you should not need any special bed adhesion but as you expand your knowledge of 3D printing and increase the complexity of your prints you may want to consider using stick glue or masking tape to increase bed adhesion.
Step 9 – Start Your Print.
Execute your G-Code program through your printers control panel.
You should watch closely as your printer creates the first level. The things to watch for are your bed adhesion and Z offset. If your bed is level and you are not getting good bed adhesion you might want to do a small Z minus offset. If your bed is level and the printer is not extruding at all because it is too close to the bed you might want to do a Z plus offset.
Step 10 – Keep printing.
Maybe your first print doesnt work out the way you were hoping but if you invest a little bit of time you will be printing like an expert and all of your friends will think you are a genius when really anyone can do it and you just took it one step at a time! If you cant think of things to print check out this article.
Anyone can 3D print. If you just spend the time and go through these steps you will be on your way to creating your first 3D prints. There isnt any deep coding requirements or crazy secrets needed to 3D print. I have been programming machines for a long time and 3D printing is really one of the easiest things