2.5 Next Steps

Enjoy your printer!

Early on, you should perform basic printer calibrations. For guidance, see Chapter 5.

Visit Thingiverse for an astounding collection of printable models. When you find a model you want to print, check to see if there is advice for slicer settings. Such information is often found in the description or instruction sections of the Thingiverse page for the model. Gravitate towards models which have actual pictures of the printed item as some models posted will not print easily — or at all. Seeing a photo of an actual print provides extra assurance that the model is sound.

After you have used your printer and slicer for a few weeks, branch out and look at some other slicers. Each slicer has its own strengths and weaknesses. Many of the slicers are under active development, receiving new improvements regularly. Keep in mind, however, that MakerBot-style printers consume a format called X3G (Section 9.3). The gcode from your slicer is converted to that format for you. As of this writing, the slicers which automatically perform this conversion for you are MakerBot Desktop, MakerBot MakerWare, ReplicatorG – Sailfish, and Simplify3D.4 While you can use other slicers such as Cura, KISSlicer, and slic3r, you will need to use a tool to convert their gcode to X3G. The two common approaches are to either import the gcode into a slicer which handles X3G or to use the GPX tool to do the conversion. GPX may be found at Thingiverse as Thing #81425.

Finally, search out any user groups for your brand of printer. Some manufacturers run or link to online forums from their own web pages. Other printer groups may be found at sites such as groups.google.com.

4Active development of Skeinforge, the slicer within ReplicatorG, ceased in April 2012.