When I got involved in 3D printing, I understood that I was on the “bleeding edge” – it wasn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. I love to learn, and my curiosity has taken me to some pretty awesome places.

When I got my first 3D printer, I knew there’d be a learning curve, and that the software and hardware would evolve quickly. But of course, you don’t ever think about how much ….

That being said, sometimes people think it’s as simple as pushing a button: “Don’t you just put in the software and say go?”

I can say, emphatically, NO!

I’ve had some prints go perfectly, from beginning to end. Printing Simple Planes With Aquamarine Stripe – you can see the video here – went like a dream. It was the first print with the Cerberus 3D Gigante printer, which can print pieces up to 4-1/2 feet tall.

On the other end of the spectrum, there was a point when I had three 3D printers and none of them was printing. That was pretty frustrating.

What can go wrong? Sometimes it’s hardware – a blown board or two or three, a carriage that jumped the tracks. Sometimes I just couldn’t get the software to cooperate, with mysterious messages about stored prints waiting, or I ran out of RAM on one computer or another.

Sometimes I just need to tweak the settings, such as flow rate, feed rate and speed, during a print.

There are times you can just let it run, but I’m finding that these printers are still pretty temperamental. If it gets too hot, I might turn on a fan. Too cold, I’ll shine a light on the print, although the Cerberus machines have heated trays, which helps.

Or maybe I’m going to have to change filament and need to slow down the print so I don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to do it. Or the filament is bunching up on the corners or the fill is getting wispy, and I need to slow the rate.

I’m quite sure that it won’t be long before you actually can push a button and walk away, but it’s bound to be at least a few years off.

Until then, I’ll keep tweaking, noting what works, and yes, cussing a blue streak now and then ….