SMU Innovation Gym, PolyPrinter Tutorial
This tutorial will guide you through using the PolyPrinter 3D printer in the innovation
gym (First floor, Caruth Hall).
NOTE: You can generate stereo lithography (STL) files from any 3D drawing
software you prefer. This tutorial uses Google SketchUp to generate STL files. If you
already generated STL files from your 3D model, skip to “Now that you have an STL
file section.”
Installing SketchUp and STL Exporter
Download and install Google SketchUp 8 (the “maker” version is free):
o If this is your first download, then you will have access to “pro”
features for a number of hours.
Download the STL export tool (required for 3D printing, not drawing):
o You may need to create an account with extension warehouse (if you
use a Google account, then you can login using that account).
o This downloads a file called sketchup-stl-xx.xx.xx.rbz (where xx.xx.xx
is the version). Remember where you downloaded this file.
Open SketchUp and select a default template.
o The default template tells SketchUp what units you want to use for
o If you aren’t sure what units you would like, just choose the “Product
Design and Woodworking” template, which uses millimeters
Once SketchUp opens, navigate to SketchUp > Preferences, then click
“Extensions” in the left listbox. Now click “Install Extension…” and choose
the sketchup-stl-xx.xx.xx.rbz file.
That’s it! You will now have an “Export STL…” option under “File”. You are
ready to start using SketchUp for 3D printing.
Using the STL Exporter in Google SketchUp
When you have finished your model in SketchUp, select the entire object
and group it into a single object (right click > “Group”).
o This tells SketchUp that the individual shapes and curves define a
solid part
Make sure your “group” is highlighted.
Go to File > Export STL… to open the export dialog. Use “ASCII” and
“millimeters” options.
Save the STL and place on a thumb drive (or in the cloud if you want to
download it while in the gym).
That’s it! You are ready to go to the 3D printer in the innovation gym.
Now that you have an STL file…
Go to the Innovation Gym, to the computer attached to the PolyPrinter. Here is a
picture of the PolyPrinter:
Login to the machine using the username and password given to you from Greg
Needel or your instructor. If you don’t know the logon information, contact Greg
Start Heating the Printer
• Open the program “Printer Interface” if it is not already open.
Warning: Do not touch the 3D printer or the bed when it is heating up!
• Start to heat up the printer right now by selecting “Set” on the “heater” and
“bed” buttons.
• Set the “Bed” temperature to 110 and the “Heater” temperature to 230
Generate Gcode from your STL(s)
Open KISSlicer. This program will load in your STL files and generate “gcode” that
tells the 3D printer how to build your part.
• Click the “Open” button in the top right
• Click “Slice” (this may also eliminate any errors generated while loading the
STL file)
• You should see your model in a window. Delete any parts from thei window
that are not yours.
• This is the orientation that your part will build in on the 3D printer. You can
reorient the part by right clicking the image in the right dialog and selecting
“transform axes.”
o Re-orienting the part is important! It will determine the amount of
support structures that need to be built and the strength of the part.
As a general rule, the part is strongest when force is applied that
compresses the layers, weakest when the force shears the layers.
Bad Orientation
Good Orientation
Load and reorient as many STL files as you need to build your model.
Verify the amount of “infill” used for the part. You can select the amount of
“infill” under “Style.” This determines how the inside of the part is filled with
material. Selecting a higher percentage will make the part stronger, but also
use more material.
o It is not recommend going lower than ~10%, though smaller parts
can probably get away with smaller infill percentages.
o Don’t print a part with 100% infill unless you really need the strength
Click “Save” from the top right corner to generate the gcode for the part.
Remember where you save this gcode file.
Print your part using gcode file
Open “Printer Interface” if not already open.
Load your model using the “load file” button. Navigate to where you saved
the “Gcode” file from the previous step. This loads the commands that need
to be sent to the 3D printer.
• Write down the total amount of material used
o For instance, if the console says:
 4229.5679 mm of filament used in this print
 Then you should write down 4229.5679
Warning: Do not touch the 3D printer or the bed when it is heating up or when it is
Once the bed is up to the right temperature, click “Print” (if its not at the
correct temperature, the printer will wait for it to heat up)
Wait for the part to print
When printing is completed, lift the lid and wait for the part to cool
o it takes about about 2 minutes to cool if the lid is open
Warning: The bed that the part is sitting on is extremely hot!
Pull the “bed” out and gently (but firmly) apply a shear force to pop the
part(s) from the printer’s bed
Be sure the bed is clean and ready for the next person to use the printer!
Tutorial not clear? Want to make improvements? Contact Professor Larson at
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