We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
If you add a Heated Build Platform (HBP) to your MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer you will need to do some modifications to your working process whenever you want to be able to print with a hot build plate. Using the MakerBot Desktop software with a Replicator 2 with HBP can be pretty easy just switching to the profile of a Replicator 2X, but there are some drawbacks. In order to be able to have more control on your prints with a Heated Build Platform on a Replicator 2 3D printer you probably would want to go for a different slicer such as the Simplify3D that we are already using. Since Simplify3D already has built-in support for Replicator 2 3D printers with installed HBP it is easier to take advantage of that along with the many other available options to control the printing process that the software offers. Enabling the HBP support and using it properly in Simplify3D however requires a bit more to make it work properly, so we are going to be looking at what steps you need to take.
First you need to enable the Replicator 2 with HBP profile in Simplify3D, to do that you need to do the following steps (we assume you have already selected a MakerBot Replicator 2 as the printer you are using in the slicer):
– Start the Simplify3D software
– Open the Tools menu and go into Firmware Configuration
– Go to the X3G tabl and under GPX Configuration select the Replicator 2 with HBP profile
– Click on Save and you are almost ready to go
Next you need to manually add some additional code to make sure your Replicator 2 3D printer will first heat the build plate before starting to print and that the temperature will be kept at the desired value until the print finishes. To do so follow the steps described below, the end result should look like on the screenshot above.
– Click on the Edit Process Settings Button
– Go to the Scripts tab and open up the Starting G-code
– Look for the following line of code: M126 S[fan_speed_pwm]
– After the above line of code you need to add the following two new lines:
M140 S[bed0_temperature] T0 ; heat build platform
M134 T0 ; stabilize build platform temperature
Then add some more extra code to make sure that the 3D printer will stop the heating of the build plate and cool it down after the printing finishes. To do so follow the steps described below, the end result should look like on the screenshot above.
– While still in the Scripts tab and open up the Ending G-code tab
– Look for the following line of code: M104 S0 T0 ; cool down extruder
– After the above line of code you need to add the following line:
M140 S0 T0 ; cool down heated build platform
After this you should be all ready to start 3D printing using the heated build platform on your MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, the only thing left too do is set the desired temperature of the Heated Build Platform that you want to use. You can do that with the following steps:
– Click the Edit Process Settings button of your current printing process
– Go to the Temperature Tab and click on the Add Temperature Controller
– Enter a name like HBP for example or Heated Build Platform
– Make sure that under Temperature Controller you select Heated Build Platform
– Set the desired temperature of the HBP by double clicking on the available Setpoint
– We are using 50-60 degrees Celsius for PLA (if needed) and 80-100 for ABS printing, use these as a reference
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.
It is always good to have alternatives and not be forced to use only one thing and he same is also very true for 3D printers and their software. If you are limited to using only the software provided by your 3D printer’s manufacturer you may end up disappointed from the device just because of a the software being full of bugs or very limited in terms of features. When we were choosing our first 3D printer we have taken into account this as well and went for a device that is supported by alternative software such as the Simplify 3D among others. Not that the Makerbot Replicator 2 was not supported by other solutions as well back then, but having a software that has some useful extra functionality and features that is recommended by people already more experienced in 3D printing is definitely a plus. Now, a few months later when Makerbot has decided to integrate the MakerWare into their Makerbot Desktop software along with other features is making us rely more on the Siplify3D software more and more. Not that the MakerBot Desktop software is bad, but the whole package is not what a more advanced user that wants to be more in control of the printing process would actually want. It seems that MakerBot is targeting more novice users by trying to provide a simpler and more user friendly software, but many of the people that start with 3D printing quickly outgrow the basic needs and start having more requirements…
This is were the Simplify3D software comes into action by offering wider functionality and more advanced control over the printing process, should you need it, along with support for many 3D printers. With the just released Simplify3D V2.2 update the software now supports even more 3D printers than before, including the newer MakerBot 5th Gen Replicator, MakerBot Mini, MakerBot Z18 among many others. The drawback with Simplify3D is that the software is commercial and you need to buy a license to be able to try it use it, so you cannot just download a demo version that you can try out before you buy. A license for the Simplify3D 3D printing software will cost you $140 USD, a one time price that you have to pay for it that covers future updates. The best thing is that chances are that not only your current, but also your future 3D printer may be supported by the software, so even if you get another device or upgrade in the future you may still be able to use the same software with the new printer. So while it may not be a wise idea to buy the software if you are just starting in the world of 3D printing and are still wondering if it is something for you to dig deeper in, if you have already decided that 3D printing is your thing, then getting a license for the Simplify3D software may be a good idea.
The Simplify3D software is essentially an all-in-one software suite for your 3D printing needs, at least if you have an FDM/FFF 3D printer that extrudes thermoplastic. The software has a fast slicing engine and a very good preview on how the actual print will look like, including a preview of the whole printing process. Simplify3D also offers more advanced and intelligent functionality regarding the support structures, it even allows you to manually add or remove support for models before trying to print them at places that you may consider it will be useful. Another good and useful thing is that the printing algorithms used by the software are probably different as compared to what your original 3D printing software uses. This means that if your original software has trouble slicing a 3D model and properly printing it due to some issues you might have better success with the different algorithms used by the Simplify3D software. When talking about issues with models, the Simplify3D also has some advantages thanks to a few options available for analyzing and reporting possible issues with the models you are trying to print with even the ability to automatically fix some of them. This functionality however is far from perfect and there are other software that offer better and more functional ability to find and repair automatically issues with your 3D models. With all that said we are not going to say that Simplify3D is the perfect and absolutely problem free software for your 3D printer, it still has some issues and things we don’t like, as well as functions that are lacking. The good thing is that the company developing the software is actually listening to what the users of Simplify3D need and want to have available and implement new things based on the user feedback and this is very important to have for a 3D printer software. So we do recommend to check out the features and functionality that the Simplify3D software offers as we have been happily using the software for a while already and will continue to do so, though we are not always and only relying on it for our 3D printing needs.