Before you print, do this!
Updated: Sep 13, 2021
Now that you have successfully assembled your Ender3, you can start printing, right?
You need to have software installed on your computer known as a slicer. Slicer software is a specialty software that takes a file (usually an STL) and slices it into individual layers. It then interrupts those layers as code, known as gcode, that your printer can understand and follow to produce the print.
I use Cura, one of the most common slicer programs available, which has lots of support and custom settings you can download for different projects.
Other commonly used slicers include Slic3r and PrusaSlicer.
NOTE: For most of you, installing the slicer shouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately, I was working off an older machine with a graphics card that supported opengl 2.0 or better. You can download software to check the version your card supports here.
We will go over Cura settings install in another article, so check back soon!
Printer purchased and assembled. Check.
Slicer installed. Check.
Start your first print. Not yet. You still need to get your printer configured.
Configuring your printer now, before you start printing, will ensure your prints turn out the way you envisioned in your head.
Bed Level and Nozzle Height
Leveling your bed is crucial. It ensures your nozzle won't crash into your bed, possibly causing damage. It also allows for the proper "squish" to happen for the first layer. The first layer of the print is the foundation that the rest of the print builds on. If it doesn't go down correctly, the print has a good chance of failing.
Some users like to use BLTouch, which is an auto bed leveling sensor. However, that is beyond the scope of a beginner setup. We'll cover that accessory in another article.
Even with the BLTouch, you need to level your bed the best you can first, using the "paper method." All you need is a sheet of paper, patience, and time.
To level the bed, tighten the springs on the bed to finger tight, then heat the bed and the hot end. I typically use 65 for the bed temp, but any bed temp between 60 and 65. I use 210 for the hot end, but anything between 180 and 210 will work.
It goes without saying, this is HOT! Try not to burn yourself while leveling the bed. Heating the bed is necessary as the bed can expand/contract a small bit when hot or cold. This variation, though slight, can cause a difference when printing.
Follow the steps in the video below to level your bed.
NOTE: He doesn't heat the hot end or bed. Please make sure you do, be safe about it!
Calibrate e-steps and Flow Rate
Now you need to calibrate your e-steps and flow rate. Before doing so, you need to have available digital calibers and a dark marker to mark your filament.
Once again, putting you into the capable hands of Tom for this process. Why? Because I cannot explain it better than he already has.
Congratulations! You are now ready for your first print!
There could be other settings to change in the future, such as retraction settings, but we will go over these in future posts. Until then, I hope you found this useful and happy printing!