3D Printing Tutorial


Select a 3D model


(optional) Modify or create your 3D file

Use Tinkercad to modify your Thingiverse object or to make your own!

Tinkercad is extremely beginner-friendly. Follow our Tinkercad tutorial to learn or just start by playing around.

When you're done, export your model as a .stl file.

Note: you will not be quizzed on how to use Tinkercad.


Find an available printer

It's time to print! 

Stop by the Watt or Cooper Makerspace during our open hours. Find a printer that is available and check to make sure it has the filament color and type that you want to print with. Note the name (ex: Watt 1, Adobe 3) and type of the printer (ex: Mini, SE, or Pro) and attempt to confirm there is enough filament to complete your print job (ask an intern for help with any of these questions).

If the filament on your chosen printer needs to be replaced, please ask an intern to complete this operation. Do not attempt to change the filament.

How to find the name and type of a printer. For example, this one is named Adobe 2 and the type is Mini.


Prepare your file to print using Cura

Cura is a desktop slicing software package; we use Cura-Lulzbot Edition. Slicing software is used to prepare 3D models for printing. Models saved in the industry standard .STL file format are converted into .GCode, where the model is "sliced" into thin layers that the printer builds, one at a time, to create a 3D object. 


Open Cura

Open Cura Lulzbot Edition using the computer in the Makerspace. 


Select your printer

In the top right corner of Cura, select the type of printer that you are going to use, under the Print Use Menu or Settings>Printer tab.

This is your time to scope out the printers that are available and choose whether you will print on a Mini 2, Pro, or SE. It is essential that you set up your 

Use the down arrow button on the green menu bar to change the printer type


Load your file

Load an STL File by clicking the folder icon which is called "Open File".

Cura works with STL, the 3D industry standard file format, as well as OBJ, DAE, and AMF files. From this window select the file you wish to open and Cura will load it on the print bed automatically.


Ensure that your part is properly oriented for printing

After loading a model, inspect it to make sure it is the correct size and orientation. It should sit as flat on the bed as possible. This can be ensured using the various tools in Cura, which are on the right side of Cura. From top to bottom these tools are: 

Move, Scale, Rotate, Mirror, Per Model Settings, Support Blocker, Custom Support Settings, and after a small break in the menu, Multiply. 

Click on the part. Arrows should appear which allow you to move the part around the bed or to manipulate it based on the tool that you selected.


Prepare your print settings

You can control all aspects of how the object is printed. Common elements to adjust in your object include: layer thickness, infill density, shell thickness, raft and supports. Remember that 3D printing is itself a kind of experiment. Choose options that you think will work best for your model. Consult an intern if you're not sure.


Print Setup Menu (Essential)

On the right side of the program window, you will find the Print Setup Menu. The essential settings to consider in this menu are the top 4: Printer, Category, Material, and Profile.

Layer height examples


Print Setup Menu (Recommended)

Next, you will see the main Print Setup Menu. There are two portions of this menu, recommended and custom. Use recommended if your print is simple or you are new to printing. If you need more in-depth options, select custom.

The recommended menu is fairly simple and straightforward, with only 3 options to change: 

Print Settings Menu
Infill examples
Support examples


Print Setup Menu (Custom)

Here you will be able to specify more details about your print, in addition to the settings detailed above:

Ignore all options below this point as they do not need to be modified in most cases.


Saving your model

Before proceeding, find an intern so that they can check the settings you have loaded.

Once you are happy with your settings, click the green button in the bottom right portion of the print menu that says "Prepare". This may take a few minutes. Once complete, it will tell you how long the print will take and how much material it will consume to print it. 

Make sure a SD card is connected to the computer you are using. If it isn't get one from the holders next to the computers or from an unused 3D printer. Once you have an SD card, save the file as .GCode. Click the ‘Save’ icon to save the .GCode. This saved file in .GCODE format is what you will upload to the printer by SD Card.   



Printing your file

Find an intern to start your print for you. They will show you how to insert the 3D card into the printer and use the menu to start the print. Watch first three layers of print - most prints, if they are going to fail, fail in the first three layers.


Log your print

Log your part using our print log. Always log your part every time you start a print. One of the screens in the Makerspace will always have the print log up and open for students. 


Getting your finished print

A Makerspace intern will remove the print from the printbed for you when it's done. Take note of when your print should be done (based on the estimated time of print) and then stop by the Makerspace after that time to collect your print. If your print was successful, it will be in the holding area in whichever makerspace you printed in. 

Next Steps

Now you are eligible to take the quiz! After passing the quiz you will be able to print on the Lulzbot Mini and Lulzbot TAZ Printers.

Continue to the quiz: