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Beginner’s Guide of Simplify3D

Hello Machine Bros!
Today we bring you this complete beginner’s guide of the Slicer Simplify3D. We will show you the different steps and configurations in Simplify3D to make your first 3D print.

Note: If you are actually looking for something more advanced about Simplify3D, we recommend the Advanced guide of Simplify3D.

If you have just bought your 3D printer, you probably have a mixture of feelings, between joy and nervousness. It is likely that your first printing will not turn out as you expect. But do not worry! This is something that takes a bit of practice (like everything else), but here we want to simplify your learning curve so that you can have amazing 3D prints in the shortest time possible.

Which Model Should I Choose to 3D Print?

The first thing we will do is choose which 3D model we are going to print. We would recommend starting with a model that helps calibrate the 3D printer. Once this model is printed, we could determine what possible adjustments we should make to our configuration to improve the quality of the printing.

For example, we recommend downloading the following 3D model in Thingiverse: “All In One 3D Printer test”. The model will be downloaded in compressed format (zip). Once the file is unzipped, remember that the format that we will generally use is “STL”.

There are more versions of this same model, there is a mini version “*MINI* All In One 3D printer test” and a micro version “*MICRO* All In One 3D printer test” which can be printed faster. There is also a quite popular calibration cube, but it does not allow to calibrate so many things “XYZ 20mm Calibration Cube”. As well as these models, there are other similar ones from other designers.

All in one 3D printer test
All in one 3D printer test
All in one 3D printer test
All in one 3D printer test
All in one 3D printer test
All in one 3D printer test

Calibrate and Level the 3D Printer

Before doing any 3D printing, you must calibrate and level the 3D printer. This step is similar in many printers, it obviously depends on the type of printer you have, for example, “Cartesian” or “Delta”. The most common printers are “Cartesian”, they are usually the cheapest and most popularly used.

It’s very important to take into account the first layer of printing, which is very important, since it defines to a large extent what the rest of the printing will be. It is like when a building is built, its foundations are fundamental for its development.

In the following article we explain how a good first layer should look and how to obtain it “The importance of the first layer in 3D printing“.

Next, we show you the explanatory videos on how to calibrate and level a 3D printer. Remember that depending on the printer you have, there could be slight differences, but the principle is the same. It is also necessary to highlight that there are 3D printers with automatic leveling systems, in the same way they sell sensors to convert normal 3D printers into 3D printers with self-leveling capacity.

Video of how to calibrate the X-axis (Activates subtitles if not activated)
Video of how to calibrate the Z-axis (Activates subtitles if not activated)
Video of the printing bed leveling (Activates subtitles if not activated)
Sensor to implement auto-leveling in 3D printers that do not come with this option

How to Set-Up a 3D Printer in Simplify3D

This Slicer works with “FFF Profiles”. Within these profiles you will find the 3D printing configuration. What should we do? The easiest thing is to start with a profile that contains a base configuration for our 3D printer, then we will use this profile to make the adjustments that we consider pertinent.

There are two ways to obtain a profile for our 3D printer, the first would be to use the Configuration Wizard which has a list of printers where we will select ours. To access Configuration Assistant you just must follow the following path: Help > Configuration Assistant.

Help > Configuration Assistant
Simplify3D Configuration Assistant
Simplify3D Configuration Assistant

In case of not finding our 3D printer in this list of options, or we do not feel satisfied with these profiles, we can also use third-party profiles. Just Google Simplify3D FFF Profile for + (your 3D Printer brand)

For example, if we wanted to search for a profile for the Creality Ender 3 we should only do the following search in Google “Simplify3D FFF Profile for Ender 3” and you will find many forums, web pages, YouTube videos and users who share their 3D printing profiles.

It will be our job to find the most recommended, with the best comments, and that has been published as recently as possible, and with the profile ready we can execute the modifications that we consider pertinent.

Google: Simplify3D FFF Profile for Ender 3
Google: Simplify3D FFF Profile for Ender 3

Once we have found the profile that we think might work for us, we proceed to download and import it into Simplify3D. To import profiles, we only have to access the following path: File > Import FFF profile, then we select the downloaded profile.

File > Import FFF profile
File > Import FFF profile
Import Profile Simplify3D
Import Profile

Now we add the profile that we have just imported. For this we must do the following, on the left side of the interface, at the bottom, click the option Add, search for the profile recently imported and click Ok.

Adding the profile
Adding the profile
FFF Setting
FFF Setting

Adding a 3D Model in Simplify3D

Now we are going to configure the 3D model (STL File) in Simplify3D. Then, we must import the model that we downloaded, as follows: on the left side, in the section Models, select Import, then select the downloaded 3D model.

Selecting the 3D Model
Selecting the 3D Model (STL File)
Selecting the 3D Model (STL File)
Selecting the 3D Model (STL File)
3D Model
3D Model

How to Align a 3D Model in Simplify3D

Now we will explain how to align the models to the printing bed. We must select Edit > Place Surface on Bed and then click on the surface that we want to be on the printing bed.

Play the videos to see how it’s done:

Aligning the 3D model to the printing bed

On the right, you will find different types of tools for alignment, positioning, and rotation. We will explain the most used ones (not counting the ones to place the supports, this will come in a future article 😉)

TranslateMove the 3D model vertically and horizontally
Moving the 3D model
ScaleScales the model from 0.1% to 999999%
Scaling the 3D model
RotateRotates the 3D model
Rotating the 3D model
Center and ArrangeCenters the model on the printing bed
Centering the 3D model
DefaultFull view of the 3D model
TopTop view
FrontFront view
SideSide view
Change of views

Having already positioned and orienting the part in place, we proceed to edit the last settings of the 3D printing. In this case, as the printing is simple, we are going to deactivate the Supports and the Raft, and an infill of 20%.

For this we must go to the box Processes and double click on the imported process.

We could also select the imported process and then click on Edit Process Settings, both options do the same, they allow us to edit the imported process.

Edit Process Settings
Edit Process Settings
FFF Settings
FFF Settings

We must consider two other parameters, Auto-Configure for Material and Auto-Configure for Print Quality.

The first is used to choose the filament material we are going to use for our first 3D print. It is advisable to use PLA since it is the easiest material to learn to master, and generally good results are obtained without so much complexity.

When choosing a material in this parameter, Simplify3D automatically adjusts the temperature and extrusion values for the selected material, then later if you wish in Show Advanced, you can customize the temperature and extrusion values you want for certain 3D printing filaments.

For now, we will not use the Advanced Options. If you want to know more about 3D printing filaments, their possible uses and recommendations, we recommend you visit our article “Guide to select 3D printing filaments

The second parameter, Auto-Configure for Print Quality, allows Simplify3D to automatically according to the imported profile, adjust parameters such as Layer Height and other parameters related to the printing quality.

For our first 3D printing we will select High print quality because with the 3D model we intend to print, what we are looking for is to determine how good the quality of the 3D prints is with the profile we import.

Later, if you wish, in the Show Advanced option, you can further customize the values that determine the quality of the 3D printing.

FFF Settings
FFF Settings

Once configured, we click OK, and we already have our first 3D printing set up.

Now at the bottom of the interface, on the left side, you will see an option called Prepare to Print. We click on it and this will take us to a preview that simulates how our model will be 3D printed.

Prepare to Print
Prepare to Print
3D Printing Process Simulation
3D Printing Process Simulation

In the upper part, on the left, you will find a box called Build Statistics, this box has the following information about 3D printing:

  • Build time: This is the approximate time it will take to complete the 3D printing. It usually takes a little longer than the software indicates. The time will be shorter if we set a low print quality, and vice versa, the time will be longer if we set a high 3D print quality.
  • Filament length: As its name indicates, this information shows a unit of length, that is, approximately how much filament we will use to print the 3D model.
  • Plastic weight: This indicates the approximate weight that the 3D model will have. The Slicer calculates this based on the density of the plastic to be used, for this reason, it is highly logical that this value varied depending on the material chosen. With this value, you can also estimate how much filament you will need, for example, if you buy a 1kg coil of PLA, and the Slicer tells us that the model will weigh approximately 100g, we can estimate that with the 1kg coil we could theoretically print at least 9 models from those.

  • Material cost: The price indicated here by Simplify3D is calculated based on the material to be used and the cost of the filament coil. In our case, as we do not adjust the “advanced options”, the profile that we have imported will have an approximate value of how much 1 kg of said material costs, and for this reason Simplify3D makes this price estimate based on that predetermined value. If we want to have a more precise value, we must go to the advanced settings and configure how much the 1kg spool of filament really cost.
Advanced settings of filament properties
Advanced settings of filament properties

Continuing with the explanation of the preview that simulates the Gcode, that is, how the 3D printing process will look, below the Build Statistics box we will see a section called Show Preview, which contains the following options:

  • Printing table: We decide whether to show the printing bed.
  • Head: We decided whether to show the head of the extruder, or what could also be the nozzle.
  • Travel movements: It shows the movements that the extruder makes when it is not 3D printing, that is, the routes of the print head when it moves from one side to the other without printing.
  • Retractions: Shows the locations where retractions will be performed.
  • Coloring: It tells us what we want the coloring to show us, we have the following options:

    • Movement speed: It graphically tells us how fast it will be printed in certain regions.

    • Active head: If we had a printer with a double extruder, this would indicate with which of the two extruders a printing sector is being printed.

    • Type of functionality: It indicates the characteristic with which a certain segment of the printing is defined and printed, for example, what is the contour, the upper solid layers, the lower solid layers, what is the filling, what are the supports, etc. Generally, this is one of the most useful views and that we will use the most.

    • Current process: When you are already an advanced user, you can print the same part or several using different processes or printing profiles. With this option, the Slicer would graphically indicate which process we are using to print certain sectors or areas of the model.

Press play to see the different options.

Display options that we have in Show Preview
Display options that we have in Coloring

Finally, the lower part allows us to visualize by layers or by lines how the printing will develop, we can select how many layers or lines we want to show.

The Animation section allows Simplify3D to automatically scroll through the layers and show us a simulation of how the model should be printed.

Press play to see the animation.

3D Printing animation

Now that we are satisfied with the preview and simulation of the Gcode, it only remains to export the Gcode to save it on an SD memory.

To do this, at the bottom of the interface, on the left side, we will see an option called Save Toolpaths to Disk. By clicking on this option, we will be asked to select where we want to save the Gcode file, we can save it wherever we want.

Save Toolpaths to Disk
Save Toolpaths to Disk
Saving the GCode
Saving the GCode

Start 3D Printing

The only thing left is to insert the SD memory with the GCode into the 3D printer to start printing. It is possible that your printer has options to send the Gcode by Wifi or even print directly by USB cable, but one of the simplest and most common options is using an SD memory card.

Next, we will show you a video of how we started 3D printing on one of our 3D printers. This obviously can vary depending on the 3D printer you have.

Now we want to show you a video that summarizes and shows everything explained in this article.

After following all the guidelines shown here, you should have the following results:

3D printed model by one of our printers, the GEEETech i3
3D printed model by one of our printers, the GEEETech i3
All In One 3D Printer test
All In One 3D Printer test
All In One 3D Printer test
All In One 3D Printer test

What Happens if the 3D Printing Goes Bad in Simplify3D?

It is very common for a 3D print to be damaged during the printing process, but don’t worry, everything has a solution. If this happens, we must consider the following:

  • That the first printed layer has a good shape and condition
  • That the 3D printer was correctly calibrated
  • That we chose the right 3D printing filament

If these aspects are not the problem, then the problem may be with the Slicer settings. If so, we have two options:

  • The first would be to look for another FFF profile of our printer on the web.
  • The second option is to improve the profile that we already downloaded.

If we can get a good print with the profile we import, we may want to make minor adjustments. For this, you must go to the troubleshooting that Simplify3D offers on its website.

Remember that a “troubleshooting” is a problem solver, it is a type of guide that shows possible faults with its solutions. The Simplify3D troubleshooting is quite complete, and if with it, you cannot improve the quality of your 3D printing, you can also enter the Simplify3D forums to find a solution.

How to Use the Simplify3D Troubleshooting

Next, we provide you the link to access Simplify3D troubleshooting “Simplify3D Print Quality Troubleshooting Guide“. The guide has images so that you can graphically orient yourself and relate the problem you are having with the solution proposed by Simplify3D.

Simplify3D Troubleshooting
Simplify3D Troubleshooting
Simplify3D Troubleshooting
Simplify3D Troubleshooting

Did you notice that the “All In One 3D Printer test” 3D model has texts? These texts and phrases help to determine how well your 3D printer configuration is performing, they also serve to guide you on what possible problems you have and should improve your configuration.

For example, you will notice that in the “All In One 3D Printer test” 3D model you can read “Overhang test”, we can also read “Bridging test” in another part of the model. If we have problems with the printing of these areas, we just must look in the Simplify3D troubleshooting which parameters we should adjust in our printing profile to improve the quality of the same.

Overhang test zone
Overhang test zone

So, if we have issues printing the Overhang area, in the next image we show the part of the Simplify3D troubleshooting where we could find a possible solution.

Simplify3D Troubleshooting
Simplify3D Troubleshooting for Overhang issues
Simplify3D Troubleshooting for Overhang issues

If we have problems with the Bridging Test Area, the one shown next.

Bridging Test Area
Bridging Test Area

We have to check for a possible solution in the following part of the Simplify3D troubleshooting:

Simplify3D Troubleshooting for Bridging issues
Simplify3D Troubleshooting for Bridging issues
Simplify3D Troubleshooting for Bridging issues
Simplify3D Troubleshooting for Bridging issues

Now we are going to show you how to access the advanced options to customize and configure our FFF profile in greater depth. This will be necessary to adjust some of the parameters explained in the Simplify3D troubleshooting.

For this we must go to the box Processes and double click on the imported process, we could also select the imported process and then click on Edit Process Settings, both options do the same.

Once this is done, a box will appear that allows us to adjust basic printing parameters. At the bottom left of this box, we will see an option called Show Advanced, we click on that option and voila, we can access the advanced options. But we will leave until here this guide, we will bring another article explaining the different Advanced Options.

Click play to watch the video:

Conclusions About the Beginner’s Guide of Simplify3D

Your first 3D print will probably not turn out as well as you expected, but do not despair, be patient, you must practice. With the advice we give you in this article, if you manage to choose a good configuration profile and calibrate your 3D printer properly, it is likely that you will get pretty decent results the first time.

Remember that Simplify3D has a huge community, which allows you to make use of collective intelligence. Anyway, keep in mind that any concerns you have, do not hesitate to leave us a comment below, and we will help you out.

If you have problems with the first layer, or “warping” and “cracking” problems, you can see our articles that explain how you could solve these problems: “The importance of the first layer in 3D printing” and “Tips to prevent warping and cracking”.

Cheers

See you soon Machine Bros!

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