MakerBot Learning Tips: Print Settings in MakerBot Desktop
The more you know about MakerBot Desktop, the more powerful it becomes. One of the most important features in MakerBot Desktop, if not the most, are the Print Settings. These settings dictate how your print will be made. With these settings, you can optimize your 3D print for the best results, no matter what you’re printing —be it a prosthetic, a prototype, a jig, or a coaster.
To help you achieve more with MakerBot Desktop, this MakerBot Learning Tips video defines key settings and offers general best practices. Below, we also break down how different settings can affect your print time as well as the strength, surface quality, and weight of your 3D print. Ultimately, what’s a priority for your 3D print is entirely up to you, so we encourage you to experiment with these settings.
Key Print Settings
Quality and Layer Height
Once you’ve clicked on the Settings, you’ll find the most commonly used print settings within the Quick tab. Those are layer height, shells, infill, raft, and support. There are three default print profiles loaded within the Quality drop down menu: Low, Standard, and High. The most important difference between all three is the layer height, or the thickness of each layer in your print. Low prints at 0.3 mm, Standard at 0.2 mm, and High at 0.1 mm. Just for reference, 0.2mm is about the thickness of two sheets of paper. The finer the layer height the better the surface quality of your 3D print, but the longer your print takes to complete.
If you toggle between the three different quality settings, you’ll notice that the level of infill doesn’t change much. Infill is the internal structure of your print. 10% is standard and most of the time 10 to 20% is enough. You almost never need to set your print at 100% infill. This setting will make your print completely solid increasing its weight and strength but generally decreasing its surface quality. It will also greatly draw out your print time and require much more filament. On the opposite end, you almost never need to use 0% infill, unless you want your print to be hollow.
Similar to infill, the number of shells between the different quality settings doesn’t change much. Shells are the outlines that makeup the outer walls of your print. The more shells the stronger the outer walls. More shells are particularly important if you plan to do any sanding after or if you want to increase the print’s strength. Normally, two to five shells are enough for most prints. Adding more shells will increase your print time slightly.
We recommend that you always print with a raft. Rafts are a removable foundation that ensure your print adheres to the build plate. Rafts help ensure that the bottom of your print is one even, consistent layer. If you decide not to print with rafts, you risk warping and curling.
Pro Tip: If you do not choose to use rafts, make sure to use Z-Offset to fine tune the gap between the nozzle and the plate. Learn how in this video.
Supports are removable scaffolding that you can add to your print. You should normally add these when there are overhangs or parts of your print that the previous layer cannot support. If you aren’t sure, then we recommend adding them. A pair of small needle nose pliers or wire cutters can help you remove supports after your print is complete.