For users who wish to operate their MOD-t while offline, or who want extra control over their print jobs (such as adding multiple files to a single print job), we suggest using Cura, an easy-to-understand “slicing” program. Slicers break down 3D designs into a set of instructions that tell the MOD-t how to create a print. Using Cura, you can rotate, flip, scale, and multiply designs with ease. You can even make your Cura display mimic the size and characteristics of a MOD-t to help increase your print success.
1. Begin by downloading the Cura software. You can do so by visiting the Cura website and downloading the program for free. Before you do that however, keep in mind that there is a specific version of the software that you will want to install. The version of Cura that works best with the MOD-t is 15.04.6. Visit the link below and scroll through the available versions until you find 15.04.6 for your operating system (Mac OS or Windows). Once downloaded, it should install like any other web-sourced program.
2. Once Cura has been installed and opened, you will want to start by telling it a bit about the MOD-t. Do this by selecting the Machine option from the toolbar. Select “Add Machine.” A wizard should appear. You’ll select “Other” on the first page and “Custom…” on the second page.
3. Then, the wizard will ask you to name your machine. We named all of our machines “MOD-t”, but feel free to name your machine whatever you’d like. Seriously. Anything.
4. Next, you’ll have to tell Cura what kind of build envelope your machine has. You can cheat off of us by filling in the information provided in the screengrab below. (Note: It’s best not to stray from these numbers, but you can slightly increase the listed build envelope from time to time if you’re confident a design will fit on the build plate, or if you know you’ll be squeezing in an extra millimeter or two as described in this Tips & Tricks post!)
5. Even though you’ve told Cura some basic information about the MOD-t, the program still doesn’t know how the MOD-t behaves. Cura uses “Profiles” to understand printer behavior. The MOD-t has its own profile, which you’ll need to download. We’ve provided the link to it below. Save this file as a .ini file by right clicking the link, selecting “Save link as…”, naming it, and changing the file type to “All Files.” Basically, this:
(Note: If you have the old Cura profile, you’ll need to delete it before replacing it with this one.)
You must load the profile information before using Cura with the MOD-t. Do so by clicking “File” in the Cura toolbar and selecting “Open Profile…”. Browse for the MOD-t Cura Profile you just downloaded. Select it, load, and you’re ready to go!
6. Upload design files by clicking “File” in the toolbar and selecting “Load Model File…”. We’ve selected this cheerful and festive homemade Valentine’s Day tag as an example.
7. Edit the size and orientation of your design using the three buttons on the bottom left corner.
Each of these options has a sub-options, though you’ll rarely use those. We’ll get into those when we discuss altering your design.
(“Reset” on all options will, of course, reset your design back to its original size or orientation.)
When you select “Rotate,” three rings will appear around your design. You can manipulate each of these rings to shift the orientation by a factor of 15 degrees. The green ring will rotate your design forward and backward, the yellow will rotate the design side to side, and the flat, red ring will spin your design.
You can use the “Lay Flat” sub-option to cheat your rotation. If you can’t quite get your design to lay flat, click this button and Cura will do it for you.
Scaling on Cura works by percentages. Your original design will register as “1.0”, or 100%. Scale a design down by 20% by changing the value to 0.8. Scale a design up 20% by changing the value to 1.2. If you change the X, Y, or Z scale, the other two scales will adjust to match this alteration. Cura will give you estimates of your design’s measurements (in millimeters) above the design as you alter it.
Select the “To max” sub-option (labelled in the Scale Options image) to auto-scale your design to the largest possible size that will fit within the MOD-t’s build envelope.
This might be the least utilized alteration in Cura. Mirroring simply flips the design. There are options to mirror on each axis. Should you accidentally export a design file with backwards text, this is a useful function to fix it! (We’ve all been there.)
Use the icon in the top right corner of your screen to switch views of your design. There are lots of views to play with, but we think the most useful view is Layer View. Use this view to check your bottom layer, to scrutinize angles, and to just generally view the way the print will build. You can slide the white square along the gray bar on the right side of the screen to select which layer you’d like to view.
If you right-click on your design, another list of editing options will appear. These options allow you to center, multiply, delete, or reset your design. There’s also an option to “Split Design Into Parts.” This will allow you to separate a multi piece design into individual pieces. From there, you can scale and re-orient specific pieces, or you could delete extraneous pieces should you no longer need them. This is a great tool to use if you’d like to break up a design into pieces to print in different filament colors or with different settings.
There are also options on the side bar, under “Quality,” “Fill,” “Speed and Temperature,” “Support,” and “Filament.”
We suggest you leave most of these categories alone, but fiddling with the “Fill” and “Support” settings can prove quite useful. The “Fill” option will adjust your print’s fill density. This is the cross-hatching gridwork that fills the inside of your print. The default “Better” setting on our store uses 25% fill density. To increase the weight and internal support of a design, increase the fill density. 100% fill density will print a completely solid object. (It will also, probably, take several days to print.) Decrease your design’s weight and print time by decreasing the print density. If you feel that your designs are structurally stable, 10-15% fill density will usually cut it, though you may find an increase in print failures.
The “Support” category is very important when modifying designs in Cura. This is where you set parameters for supports, tell Cura what kind of supports you like, and set platform adhesion guidelines to improve your print success rate.
On the sidebar, you can select one of the three support types, listed in ascending intensity: none, touching buildplate, or everywhere. By clicking on the “…”, you can alter the supports even more.
The most important fields on this menu are the “Structure type” and the “Overhang angle for support (deg).” The default overhang in the New Matter Store is 60 degrees, but you can be a little riskier here if you feel confident your design will print well. 70 tends to be the maximum angle you can enter into this field before your prints will consistently fail. The “Structure Type” will allow you to toggle between grid and line supports. You might find that one of the types is easier to remove or is more supportive than the other. If you’re printing something taller, grid will always be the best bet, though.
You can toggle between “None,” “Brim,” and “Raft” in the “Platform adhesion type” menu. If your design has a particularly thin lip as the first layer, we suggest adding a removable brim. If your first layer has very little contact with the print surface, we suggest using the raft option. This will put tiny supports on the first layer so the following layers stick better.
Saving Your GCode
If you’d like to print your design with any of the adjustments discussed above, you’ll need to save GCode! You can do so by selecting the Save icon in the top left corner of the screen. You can then print this GCode using the MOD-t Desktop App. Read more about printing GCode in our “Did You Know…” post here!
One More Thing!
You might have noticed a time and weight underneath the Save icon. Those are estimations of your print time and completed print weight. You should remember that these are just estimates. There’s no exact way to guess a print’s weight (though it could be a fun contest or classroom activity!) and the MOD-t tends to take a tiny bit longer than these estimates. Still, these estimates are great for giving a ballpark idea of time and filament needed. It’s great to know that you shouldn’t start a .5 kg print if you have less than half of a .5kg roll of filament left! Likewise, don’t start a 12 hour print and expect it to finish in three!
It’s super easy to print saved GCode using New Matter’s desktop application. Go into the “Printer Settings” section of the application, select “Advanced Mode,” and load up your GCode! For more detailed instructions, check out “Fun Fact” #3 of the Did Ya Know blog post!
Do you have any other Cura know-how to share? Let us know down in the comments!