We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
The latest update of the software slicer for 3D printing on MakerBot’s products – MakerBot Desktop 3.7 adds some interesting new features that might be what more advanced users were waiting for quite a while. The new version comes with Custom Profiles for the 3D printer where you not only have the Quick Print Settings page like before with only the most basic options such as Quality, Layer height, Infill percentage, Number of shells and Raft and Supports along with temperature for the extruder. It seems however that the extrusion speed and travel speed are no longer available in the Quick tab, but are only accessible via the Custom profile tab, so that could be a bit of inconvenience when working with some more exotic materials and do not need other more advanced options besides the speed.
Now there is a new tab called Custom where you can create custom presets with much more detailed and advanced options available such as the ability to set separate speeds for different aspects for the printing process, or different types of infill pattern aside from the standard hexagonal one you have multiple other options, or to print with higher quality the outer shell of a model and use thicker layer height for the infill for example. There is also much more user control available for the way that Rafts and Supports are being printed, should you wish to play with these settings and so on. The only thing missing however is a detailed descriptions of all of the new options available to the user to play and experiment with. Looking at the various settings it seems that with MakerBot Desktop 3.7 you might get some more additional features accessible that are not even present in the Simplify3D software. The Simplify3D commercial slicer package that is loved by many advanced 3D printer users thanks to the wide support for different devices and a the many advanced features available to the user to play with.
The MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer does not come with a heated build plate, but you can add one – either a readily available unofficial upgrade or make a DIY one. The control board of the Replicator 2 does have the needed support to control a HBP if you install one and decide to let the printer control it based on your settings. You would of course need to replace the power adapter with a more powerful one that will be able to handle the extra power requirements of the heated build plate…
The more important question however is how do you use the HBP after you install it on the Replicator 2 with the MakerBot Desktop software (previously called MakerBot MakerWare). What you can do to make the heated build plate is to switch the software to the Makerbot Replicator 2x profile instead of the Replicator 2 that you should normally be using. You can do that from the MakerBot Desktop going to Devices – Select Type of Device – Makerbot Replicator 2x. It however comes with some drawbacks such as slightly reduced build plate size in the software, though your heated build platform may actually be smaller compared to the original space available prior to that.
You need to go through the Print Settings panel in order to get access to the settings for 3D printing and under the Temperature tab you will see the option to enable the option called Heat the Build Plate and set the Build Plate temperature to the desired value. Also since the Replicator 2 has only one extruder, you need to set the temperature for the extruder in the Right Extruder panel.
On the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer you also need to do something in order to activate the support for the Heated Build Plate. You need to go into the following menu Info and settings – General Settings – Set to Yes to the Heated Plate option. Also in order to properly use the Preheat setting from the 3D printer you should also go into the menu Info and settings – Preheat Settings – Set the desired temperature for Preheat under Platform.
When you are 3D printing small parts that are just a few millimeters in size you have probably bumped into a problem where there is a gap between the outlines/perimeter shells of the object and the infill, regardless of the percentage does not help. Normally with larger objects the inside of the model will be filled by the infill prodigious strength and durability of the printed object based on the percentage of the infill you are using. But when you get to printing small parts the slicer is normally not adding infill and a gap remains between the outside shell. This makes the printed part more flexible and less durable and that can be a problem, not to mention that the printed result is not a solid object as you might have expected it to be. This is the default behavior and is normal to happen with different slicers, such as the MakerBot Desktop (MakerWare) as well as Simplify3D, but some programs do have extra options to address this issue.
The MakerBot Desktop software is nice and user friendly but does not offer a lot of additional options to users in order to address such problems as the one mentioned above. But if you use a more advanced software such as the commercial Simplify3D slicer, one of the useful extra features that makes it worth to actually pay for the software. Using the Simplify3D software if you go in the Process Settings menu, under the Infill tab you can see an option called Outline Overlap and increase the value of the percentage over the default value of 20% you will see that the gap inside the smaller objects can be filled with infill. It may take some tinkering with the value to get the best results and some test prints, but the end result is that the small and 3D printed part is finally solid and how it should be.