Thursday, July 4, 2013

Solidoodle 3 Beginner's Tutorial

Here I will provide a Solidoodle Getting started Guide this is done with Linux but most of the stuff should transfer over to Windows:

Things you should do after opening your Solidoodle 3

  1. Install Software & Test Printing
  2. Calibrate Filament Feed
  3. Calibrate Temperature on Extruder
  4. Level Bed
  5. Tape the Bed

1. Installing Software & Test Printing
The software I use on Linux is Slic3r in repetierhost and pronterface.

RepetierHost is what I use for visualization/centering/slicing it seems to do much better than the pronterface/skeinforge package. It can be found at

Pronterface is from the PrintRun software package at . It is built off of python so make sure you have python installed (sudo apt-get install python).

Goto Thingiverse and pick something really simple to print

Download the stl file and load it up in repetierHost
If it doesn't look like below the object in 3D there is something wrong with the file so you should try another. Or you can run the file through the netfabb service that automatically repairs stl files (

So the Slic3r config files provided by Solidoodle are for version 2, hah! So we need to update those for use. Basically we just need to change the bed size to 205, 200 and the print center to 102.5, 100.
You can download mine here:

Open up the Slicer tab in repetierHost and click on the first configure button.
Then in Slic3r click on "File" then "Load Config"
Remember that anytime you change anything in the Slic3r config, like adding an extrusion multiplier or something. You need to save those changes in the config before you close the Slic3r window or they won't take effect in your print.

Now we are ready to slice so click on "Slice with Slic3r"

This should eventually output a g-code file and bring you to the "g-code editor" tab click on the save icon and save this g-code file for use with pronterface.

Open up pronterface and connect to your printer and click on the "Monitor printer" box.
Turn on your bed and heater(extruder heater) and let them warm up.
Load your g-code file from Slic3r.

Before you click on print make sure the filament is in and extruding properly. Keep clicking on extrude till something comes out.

Click "Print" and sit back for a few hours.

2. Calibrate Filament feed
This is fun and easy what you need to do is plug-in your printers USB cable to your computer and open up pronterface and connect to the printer. Heat-up your extruder to 190C or so. Remove all filament from the extruder by backing it out and blow out any filament dust. Sometimes this causes extruding problems. Reinsert filament until it starts coming out of the extruder.

Now take a ruler and measure 100 mm (use 100 mm because small errors will add up and be visible) of filament say from the top of the extruder and mark this point with a sharpie or marker. Type in 100 mm in the extrude box and click extrude. Now measure how much is left if the mark is not almost exactly near the top of the extruder.

We need to calculate the extruder multiplier. The extruder is set to extrude at an arbitrary extrudeness of 1 extrude multiplier. If however 1 extrude multiplier is greater than what is actually needed we need to increase of decrease this value. If your Solidoodle extrudes less than what you want i.e. You want 100 mm and it extrudes 90 we need to change the extrude multiplier. We calculate it like so:

(Amount we want it to extrude) / (Amount actually extruded)

So in the above case: 100 mm / 90 mm = 1.11

This extrude multiplier we enter into our Slic3r config in repetierHost under the "Filament Settings" tab.

3. Calibrate Temperature on Extruder
Open up pronterface. In the bottom right corner there should be a command entry text box and a "Send" button.

Enter and press Send:
M303 S200 C5

This  should run an automated temperature calibration process that when finished should output 3 values: Kp, Ki and Kd.

Write these down.
Send the command(where X equals the value of Kp, Y equals Ki and Z equals Kd) :

We need to permanently save these values by sending the command:

4. Level the bed
Purchase a small level if you don't have one and place it on the bed in the middle. There are three screws on the Solidoodle bed that can be rotated to change the pitch and height of the bed. They are very sensitive. Make sure you rotate the level 90 degrees and place it in multiple places on the bed to have the best levelling.

After you level your nozzle might be raised or lowered a bit. There is a screw in the on the back wall of the Solidoodle pointing down that looks like it is not doing anything. It is in fact a stop for the bed. The bed height is what controls the height not the nozzle.

If after leveling your bed you feel you changed the height significantly adjust the screw at the back. There are lots of techniques people suggest to try and find the proper 0.1mm height. Some say place a piece of paper underneath the nozzle on the bed and move the nozzle if it drags the paper it is too low. I suggest just printing the bottom layer of something. And optimizing it so you have the smallest layer that is not see through. 3D printing is much trial and error. If you print to thick of layers the nozzle will catch on the object and knock it out of place or deform it. Practice printing by printing something easy and once everything is tuned nice go onto something bigger.

5. Tape the Bed
Nothing sticks to the kapton bed and this can be quite annoying for a beginner as it was for me. Solidoodle say everything sticks but they are wrong. One reason stuff does not stick and warps is because of temperature. The bed does not reach the temperatures that Solidoodle says it does because it is exposed. I wrapped my Solidoodle in aluminum foil.

This allows the bed temperature to become 5 or 10 degrees warmer but it still only helps a little. What you need to do is cover the bed in painter's tape or masking tape such as

It becomes alot harder to remove things from the bed(the tape can actually help though by using it to help remove the printed product) but everything actually sticks!