slicing program to prepare it for printing. The slicing
program turns the part into individual layers for
printing. The resulting .stl file is loaded into the
software which runs your printer.
Almost all CAD programs will generate an .stl file,
but there are also freestanding slicer programs such
as Slic3r and Cura.
The next step in the software chain is to load
your .stl file into a program that will generate G-code
to control your printer.
Again, there are a lot to choose from. One of the
popular programs is called Pronterface or Printrun. It’s
free and open source.
MTW printers come with a software package
called MatterControl which is from MatterHackers. It
has its own slicer called MatterSlice which is nice
because you don’t have to switch between programs
to work on a part. You do have the option of using
other slicers with it, however.
Both Maker’s Tool Works and MatterHackers
supply a lot of documentation for the software.
The hardest part of 3D printing — at least for me
— is setting up the firmware for the printer and doing the
many adjustments to make one run smoothly and
accurately. It took me a long time to set up a printer kit I
bought 10 years ago (it had no documentation and was
virtually scratch built).
With the MTW Create Express, once I put the kit
together the printer was virtually plug-and-play.
I love the large print area! It might look a little smaller
in the photos, and it does have a smaller footprint than
some older printers, but the print area is maximized to the
bed so there’s a lot of height available. The print area is
250 x 315 x 250 mm. I created a set of quadcopter
propeller guards designed in OpenSCAD that took up the
entire bed and printed beautifully.
One of the reasons for getting such a good print over
the entire bed is the auto bed leveling unit from ANTCLABS
called a BLTouch which comes with the printer. Mine also
came with an E3D-V6 hot end and a direct drive extruder.
Instead of steel rods, the printer uses recirculating ball
linear rails to move the printing axes, so it runs very quietly.
The only thing you hear when it runs are the fans.
For the brains, it has the Einsy Rambo 3D printer
controller and Trinamic stepper drivers for high precision
and quiet operation. A pre-configured version of Marlin
firmware is provided by Maker’s Tool Works for the printer. I
found I didn’t need to tweak it, so it ran right away.
The graphic LCD card has SD card support and the
Create Express can also be upgraded to run wirelessly from
your web browser, smartphone, or tablet over Wi-Fi with
the MTW Standalone Printing Upgrade or a user supplied
SERVO 07/08.2018 17
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A double-sized print of wind-up car
using variegated PLA filament.
Small PSU box with fan cage.