Finding and Slicing a Model
You may choose to create your own 3D models with software such as Autodesk's Fusion 360, or Openscad, however you may wish to start printing models that are already available for download. You can find free models for 3D printing at Thingiverse, or you can try a few from this list.
Once you have found your ideal 3D model and downloaded it's STL file, it's time to download a Slicer. A slicer takes a 3D drawing (most often in .STL format) and translates this model into individual layers. It then generates the machine code (g.code) that the printer will use for printing.
While there are several great Slicers out there, both free as well as paid we recommend Cura. Download and install the latest version of Cura by Ultimaker. Cura will provide a wizard so that you can add your M3D Crane Series printer's dimensions and nozzle diameter
The M3D Crane Bowden has several Cura Printing Profiles that have been pre-configured, each to the optimal settings within Cura for a selection of different material types. You can find and download the first of those here within this point release: https://github.com/PrintM3D/Crane/releases/tag/1.1 -- you can also find the latest version of the Bowden SD Card here in case you need it.
Once you have downloaded your preferred slicer you can follow the steps below to see how to set up the slicer with the correct printer settings. For this example we'll be using Cura.
Open Cura's Setting by pressing Preferences > Configure Cura....
Once you have opened Cura's settings we will go to add a printer. This is because we need to tell Cura the specifics of our printer, such as the maximum build volume of the printer. Press Printers and then Add in order to add a new printer. This will open a new window.
Next, press Custom. This indicates we are adding a custom printer to Cura's loadout. You can define the Printer Name however you want. Then press Add Printer, this should open another setting window.
This window allows you to configure the printer settings of your M3D Crane Series printer. This informs Cura of the M3D Crane Series printer's build space, the firmware flavor and specifies starting and ending G-code.
The build volume of the printer represents the maximum value that the printer can travel in each direction.
The firmware flavor is the type of firmware that the board is running. The Duet Maestro board runs on RepRap firmware. Your firmware flavor indicates what type of commands the board can understand.
The starting and ending G-code is a series of commands that are run at the start and at the end of every print. This is important as it allows you to retract your filament after the print and turn all the heaters off.
Don't click Close just yet! Move on to the Extruder 1 tab and fill in the following information. Fill in the nozzle diameter and the material diameter. Your nozzle diameter may vary in the future as you mount different types of nozzles on your M3D Crane Series Printer. Then you can click Close.
Once you have added the printer make sure to activate it by selecting the name and then clicking the button Activate.
In Cura, open the Preferences again by clicking Preferences > Configure Cura. Click Profiles > Import. Then a window will pop up that will allow you to navigate to the profile you just downloaded. It will most likely be in the Downloads folder.
Once you have properly imported the file you will have to Activate it. Select the profile and click the button Activate. The print settings you just downloaded have now been applied to Cura. Whenever you slice a model, it will now incorporate these settings.
Slicing your model is an extremely important step. Most slicer software allow you to control different print settings such as layer height or print speed in order to change how you print. Slicing has great effect on the quality of your print you produce. For additional information on Cura settings please go here.
Now that your settings are optimized with the imported printer profile, you can slice your model. Simply click the "prepare to print" button in the lower right corner of the slicer to generate your g.code. Save this new file to your computer.
Your model is now saved on your hard drive. Just follow the instructions for how to use your Duet Web Control Interface, to learn how to upload your new gcode file. Enjoy watching your models come to life!
The possibilities of what you can do with your M3D Crane Bowden are seemingly endless now that you know how to create, or find 3D models and how to prepare them to be printed. Next you will learn how to start your first 3D print! Follow the guide to the next section where you will find instructions on how to print.