IMPORTANT UPDATE: We’ve seen significant improvements to print quality and reliability with MakerBot Desktop 3.4 and MakerBot Firmware 1.5. If you haven’t already, please download the latest version of MakerBot Desktop and then use it to update your MakerBot Firmware. NOTE: When printing files via the USB port, your printer’s internal storage, or your Library, reprepare (reslice) them through MakerBot Desktop to achieve the best results. Files that are not reprepared (resliced) will not achieve best results. We recently told you about some big updates included in MakerBot Desktop 3.4 and firmware 1.5. The release is loaded with print quality updates and cool new features designed to improve your experience with our latest generation of MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers. These improvements are courtesy of the MakerBot Software Engineering and Quality Assurance teams, who reviewed in-house and customer feedback about the software. They then coded and tested around the clock to make sure we pushed print quality and reliability forward. Along the way, the teams came up with some useful tips you can try on your own to help improve your overall MakerBot 3D printing experience. Sharing them is Joey Neal, VP of Digital Products. You may remember Joey from our earlier post about tips for the MakerBot Replicator Z18. Like the MakerBot Replicator 2 and MakerBot Replicator 2X before them Joey says, “Each model of our fifth-generation MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers has its own printing characteristics.” The teams continually test each model to learn how it behaves, and then use the testing results, along with customer feedback, as input to drive continuous, iterative improvements to print quality. So experiment with these tips to see which ones work best for your printer and printing style. And we’ll keep more coming as we learn them. As always, let us know your thoughts by dropping a line to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep Your Software and Firmware Up to Date For all fifth-generation MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers. You can only take advantage of the latest improvements if you’re running the most recent version of software. So, not surprisingly, the first tip is to keep your software and firmware current. Since we’re constantly working to improve your experience, you’ll want to have the very latest. Updating MakerBot Desktop and firmware is easy. Try the Updated Assisted Leveling Procedure For MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printers. For better results, assisted leveling is now a two-step process. Unload your filament and rerun the assisted leveling procedure. This should help you get a more accurate starting point for your z-axis. How to level your build plate Modify the Z-Axis Offset in Device Preferences For all fifth-generation MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers. During testing, the Digital Products team noticed some minor variability with MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruders. So they added a user control in the Device Preferences panel to provide you with the ability to modify the Z-Axis Offset by minor increments, “to get even more fine-tuning” and thus better printing. Here’s how: MakerBot Replicator Mini | Manually Adjusting the Z-Axis Offset MakerBot Replicator | Manually Adjusting the Z-Axis Offset MakerBot Replicator Z18 | Manually Adjusting the Z-Axis Offset Create Custom Profiles for Slower Speeds and Raftless Prints For MakerBot Replicator and MakerBot Replicator Z18. This is a cool tip for printing small objects or maybe an iPhone case. It will help you to get a great print without having to later remove a raft. If you’re printing anything larger, Joey definitely recommends printing with a raft for “greater adhesion and stability.” Create a custom slicing profile and then modify it by slowing down the “firstlayer”:”feedrate“ from 30 to 10. This will “slow things down and allow the MakerBot PLA Filament to cool a little bit without making too many tool path turns.” To create a custom slicing profile, follow these directions. Note: Joey suggests selecting “MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation Standard Quality” in the Template dropdown menu. Create Custom Profiles to Reduce Under-extrusion For MakerBot Replicator Z18. Back in October, Joey shared a custom profile tweak to help reduce under-extrusion, which can show up as gaps, cracks and “skips” in your 3D print. At the time, he suggested you experiment with raising the temperature a bit. Additionally, he now suggests editing the custom slicing profile to increase the “numberOfShells” from 2 to 3. You could also try editing the “extrusionProfiles” area to slow down the printing of the outer shell and inner shells. Specifically, outer shells are “outlines”. You can slow this down a little bit by changing the parameter from 20 to 15. Inner shells are “insets”. Their default is 90, so try 45. “I used these tweaks plus increasing the heat setting to 220 from 215 (extruderTemp0) to print a Daft Punk Mask for Halloween,” said Joey. The mask is a fun way to show the improved print quality you can achieve by installing the latest software and firmware and tweaking a few parameters. Focus Your Camera for Easier Sharing For all fifth-generation MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers. With MakerBot Desktop 3.4, we provided new ways to use your onboard camera, including the ability to easily share a photo of your completed print on your build plate directly to Thingiverse. You can just as easily share an image as a “Make” when you finish printing an item you downloaded from Thingiverse.com. But we’ve noticed that some cameras become out of focus, either during shipping or after some heavy use. Try re-focusing the camera so you’ll have better images to post directly to Thingiverse. MakerBot Replicator Mini | How to Refocus the Camera MakerBot Replicator | How to Refocus the Camera MakerBot Replicator Z18 | | How to Refocus the Camera Keep Your Computer Awake for Longer Periods For MakerBot Replicator Z18. It’s been great to see many enthusiasts take advantage of the massive build volume of the MakerBot Replicator Z18 to print extra-large objects. But extra-large models may take longer to slice and we’ve noticed some issues can crop up when your computer goes to sleep. The Software Engineering teams are working with others to tackle this project. For now, if you’re slicing a large file, or printing a large print, try changing your computer’s energy settings to keep it awake while slicing and printing. If you do put your computer to sleep while MakerBot Desktop is working, we recommend restarting background services when you wake your computer up. You can do this by going to the Services menu and selecting Restart Background Services. This will ensure proper connectivity with your networked MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer.