Hi there! Thank you for visiting the Skidmore 3D Maker Lab and your interest in printing with the Flashforge Creator Pro. The first thing you’ll need to do before you begin printing any 3D objects is prepare the printer. Don’t worry, it’s a short and simple process so it won’t take long, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to make sure your print goes off without a hitch. (Which is ideal, unless you want to waste a few hours of your time watching plastic ooze everywhere)
Leveling the Build Plate
- Make sure the USB cable is connected to whichever device you plan to print with
- Do your best to clear out any residual plastic from the plate and inside the printer before it gets going and becomes too hot to safely touch
- Apply Kapton tape to build surface (see note below)
- Power on the Creator Pro using the switch on the back of the device
- Once up and running, you’ll hear a jingle from the machine to indicate being ready. The display will read: “FF Creator Pro” with a small menu
- Using the arrow buttons and the center “ok” button, select “Print from SD” from the menu
- Here you will see a list of files named “~.x3g,”
- Choose “PlateLeveling.x3g”
- The machine will give you step-by-step instructions for leveling, and when it’s finished, the machine will return to its original state
- The optimal distance between the nozzles and the build plate is such that you can slide a piece of paper between them and hear just a slight scratching noise and feel a small amount of resistance
Please note: While there are a number of methods for leveling the build plate, we have found that this is the most effective one for our particular device.
Applying Kapton Tape to the Build Plate
One unfortunate downside of the Creator Pro is the material which comprises the build plate. While smooth and certainly suitable for heating and printing, it is sometimes difficult to get the initial layer of filament to stick to the plate. This is incredibly important because the first layer sets up the entire rest of the print and the project could fail early without a solid first layer.
How do we fix that? Easy. We use Kapton tape.
Apply two pieces of Kapton tape to the surface of the build plate, making sure to smooth out any creases which might upset the balance of the first printing layer. This may take a couple tries. If there is already a smooth layer of tape on the plate when you start, feel free to leave it there so long as it doesn’t have any tears in it.
Acquiring a .stl File
Now that you’ve properly prepped the build plate for your project, it’s time to set up the software side of things. In order for the Creator Pro to print, it needs to communicate with the Lab PC and receive instructions for how to construct your desired model. These instructions are compiled in a .stl file, where “stl” is an abbreviation for “stereolithography.” Oftentimes, these models can be downloaded from open-source sites such as thingiverse.com, but designing and providing a .stl file of your own is also completely supported and encouraged.