In my previous two posts, I talked about the CAD software where a design begins and the separate slicer software I use to get more control of the condition of the printed piece (some host software has the slicer built in, and that may well be the way things are headed, but for now, that separate slicing software seems to work better).
Once you have prepared your file accordingly, it’s time to feed it to your printer. I use Repetier-Host, based on the recommendation of Steve Graber, who built the Cerberus 250 and Gigante printers I own (yeah, I bought a 250 for my desktop. Kinda like having an airliner and a puddlejumper – I’ll talk more about that in a future post).
According to an interesting Makezine article, which also talks about slicing software, Repetier-Host has now replaced Printrun as the most popular host software. As happens with technology, I suspect there will be more leapfrogging as things advance. The Makezine article mentions that Microsoft is even getting into the game, so this technology is catching the attention of the big boys now.
Repetier-Host is a sandbox full of buttons and sliders and options. You can control flow rate, temperature, feed rate, the cooling and so much more, and I’m learning that many of those things need to be adjusted for each print. It’s nice that you can even some of these functions while it’s printing, including flow rate, feed rate and temperature.
I probably play with the temperature the most, trying to get the smoothest surface possible. Too much heat seems to be the biggest villain, despite the fans I have blowing on the build.
Repetier-Host has a nice graphic interface that shows real-time rotatable 3D views of whatever you are printing, as well as the temperature of the print and time to finish.
You can also edit the GCode, but that’s something I’m still learning how to do. That’s really the mother lode in controlling your print.
Repetier-Host is free. There is a paid version that turns the ads off and gives you a couple of other functions, but for now I’m still using the free version.