Setting up Simplify3D to print planes

Since we provide the factory files for all parts, mostly all of the necessary work has been done for you. If you’re using original Prusa i3 compatible printer, all you have to do is open the factory file, hit Prepare to print button and save the resulting gcode to your printer SD card (or use our prepared gcodes, which were made precisely this way).

If your printer requires tweaking the settings, you simply adjust only the necessary parameters. Please note the Simplify3D settings couldn’t fix poorly built or designed printer. Check all the axis could move freely and are perfectly perpendicular to each other. Also keep your hotend in good shape, and if you’re still unable to tune up the extrusion, consider upgrading it.

In this article we’ll try to explain the aspects of preparing the gcodes from scratch, so you better understand all the settings.

Let’s start with configuring the basic process for wing/fuselage part.

Extruder

Set the values according to the image for start. This tab contains all the necessary settings to tune up the extrusion.

Please measure the filament diameter for each spool with calipers prior to altering these settings, we’ll address this later on the “Other” tab. 1,75 mm and 3 mm are just the systems, and the actual diameter value may vary a bit causing underextrusion or overextrusion.

The Extrusion multiplier is the value where you can adjust the overall weight of the printed parts. We need to make the part lightweight yet strong enough. There are suggested weights of most parts in the PDF userguides. Print the test part (the bigger the better), weight it and compare the resulting weight to the diagram. The tolerance should be within few grams. Calculate the extrusion multiplier as a difference between resulting and suggested weights.

The Extruder tab also contains all the necessary Ooze control settings. For direct drive extruders (hobbed bolt right above the hotend) the Retraction distance value is 0,8 – 1,5 mm. For bowden extruders (extruder stepper is not on the print head and the filament is going through the bowden) the Retraction distance should be in between 4 – 8 mm. In general if you experience stringing, raise the Retraction distance in steps of 0,2 mm until the stringing stops. Setting the retraction distance too high results in clogged hotend. If you experience underextrusion after retraction, there is Extra restart distance to counter this. These values requires some tweaking, but once you find the right settings, you just use the same values for any factory file in the future.

Layer

Set the values according to the image for start. This tab contains all the settings determining the number of perimeters, layer starting point – seam and possibly number of bottom/top layers if necessary (control surfaces horns, steep overhangs, Pawnee’s face, etc…). The layer height is usually set to 0,25 mm for the best speed / quality ratio. If you experience layer start underextrusion, setting the layer height to 0,2 mm slows down the extrusion and helps correcting this.

We’re using 2 perimeter setting for first few milimeters of print to improve heatbed adhesion and reinforce the bottom part to fight warping caused by heatbed temperature. Use Variable settings wizzard to split the process.

Start Points determines, where the layer start seam is positioned. Setting the start point to optimized or random position results in zits spread all over the print. We could control where the seam is located by setting it to the fixed value and rotating the parts on the bed accordingly. We’re usualy trying to put the seam on some edges or to the very bottom of the fuselage.

You can also adjust first layer parameters here, if you’re experiencing bed adhesion issues, but remember, the key is nicely squished first layer and proper heatbed preparation according to the surface of your bed. Always degrease the surface. For glass bed use ultra strong hairspray and use razorblade to make frosted surface. The PEI sheet usualy doesn’t need any extra treatment. PVA glue sticks usualy can’t hold the part with higher bed temperature, we’re using to prevent edge and corner lifting.

Additions

The Additions window lets you set the Skirt or Brim. Skirt is necessary to prime the nozzle before printing the actual part. 1 outline is usually enough, use more outlines for smaller parts. If you experience poor heatbed adhesion (lifting trailing edges, etc…), you can set the Brim in this tab. Use following values (thanks Alex T):

  • Skirt layers: 2
  • Skirt offset from part: 0,30 mm
  • Skirt outlines: 9

This creates additional support, improving the heatbed adhesion, yet easy to remove after print has been finished.

Other features from this tab are not necessary for us to change.

Infill

The infill tab is very easy to set. We’re usualy using 0% infill for our planes. If the infill is necessary for certain parts (f.e. Stearman landing gear, etc… ), consult the stock factory files, where the corresponding infill is already set for you.

Support

The same as for infill pays for supports. We usualy don’t need the supports, but for few parts like spinners, etc. See the corresponding factory files for more details.

Temperature

The temperature of hotend is very important for the strenght of your parts. In thin wall printing we need to print as hot as possible for proper layer bonding. As a good starting point use value of 230°C for most PLA brands.

As for the heatbed, temperature of 60°C seems to be optimal for the best first layer adhesion. The part detaches on its own when the heatbed temperature drops bellow 40°C.

Cooling

Turn the cooling fan off for thin wall printing! The part is able to cool down easily on its own and the cooling fan compromises the overall strenght of the print. You can possibly use cooling fan only for thick parts like motor mounts, but usualy this is not necessary as well.

G-Code

Adjust these values only if your printer has different heatbed dimensions or needs some specific options. Usualy it’s not needed to change anything here.

Wanhao D6 seems to have some “printing out of the bed” issues, this is the place where to fix this probably.

Scripts

You can add some custom starting and ending scripts here according to your needs.

The basic start script contains only homing command G28

Example of more complex starting script:

M201 X1000 Y1000 E600 ;set accelerations in mm/s/s
M92 E161.3 ;set E-steps value
G28 ;home all axes
G92 E0.0 ;reset the extruder position
G1 X1.0 F2000 ;prime the extruder and clean any ooze
G1 Y60.0 E4.0 F1000.0
G1 Y100.0 E8.5 F1000.0
G92 E0.0 ;reset the extruder position again after priming

Set export file format for XYZ daVinci printers here as well if required.

Speeds

The default printing speed we’re using is 60 mm/s, outer outlines are at 70%. Since we’re printing with rather high hotend temperature, the plastic tends to ooze from the nozzle. Setting the retractions in extruder tab and as fast as possible travel moves is very necessary to prevent stringing. Use values of at least 130 mm/s for travel moves.

Also don’t forget to set speeds overrides for layers below 15 s.

Other

The other tab contains one very important value. It’s the Filament diameter. Measure the actual diameter for each spool of filament on a few spots and insert the average value of your measurement here. This allows to compensate extrusion for various spools.

All the other values may remain untouched.

Advanced

Set the values according to the picture.

Very important is Ooze Control Behavior, as we need retractions for all spots.

The Layer Modifications determines the Z-height interval, this process is effective for. This is being set with Variable settings wizard and is not usualy needed to be set manually, but you could adjust the heights here if you need to.

Select models

In Select models window we’re able to choose for which models this particular process is being used. It’s usefull, if you want to print multiple parts at once with different settings.

Variable settings wizard

For setting different parameters in various Z-heights use Variable Settings Wizard located in Tools menu. This allows splitting the process in specified locations and adjust the settings separately.

We’re usualy using this feature to split the process in height of first few milimeters to add 2 perimeters settings, but it could be used to set some other parameters in different heights as well. For example reinforcing the Landing gear slots for Zivko Edge.

Slicing

Once your process is configured, hit Prepare to print button and select all the processes. Sometimes some process overlaps the other. This is usually intentional for some parts. After slicing check the resulting visualisation for correct placement of layer start seam (retraction line), correct speeds, and see if there are no unwanted gaps between layers.

Save the gcode to SD card and print it. You’re done!