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Usage

    ReplicatorG translates designs from Thingiverse, 3D design software, and all around the internet into the kinds of instructions that MakerBots understand.

    Downloading and Installing ReplicatorG

    Go to http://replicat.org/download for the latest version of the ReplicatorG software. Both the Mac and Windows versions come with installers that will walk you through the installation process. If you have questions, the installation page at Replicat.org goes into a lot more detail. For assistance manually installing the necessary drivers on Windows, see this page.

    Note: you'll need version 0031 or later to use your MakerBot Replicator (Original) and version 0039 or later to use your MakerBot Replicator 2.

    Updating from an earlier version of ReplicatorG?

    If you already had an earlier version of ReplicatorG, you'll need to clear some old settings after you update. The easiest way to do that is to restore all preferences to the defaults. If you're on a Mac, Go to the ReplicatorG menu, select "Preferences...", and click the "Restore all defaults" button. On a Windows computer, go to the File menu and click "Restore all preferences to defaults."

    If you're attached to your old settings, or if you're still running an older bot, you can get everything set correctly for your Replicator by switching your GCode Generator -- found in the GCode menu -- to the latest version of Skeinforge, and restoring your Print-O-Matic settings to the defaults.

    Using ReplicatorG

    Setup

    Make sure your computer is connected to your MakerBot 3D printer with the supplied USB cable.

    Open ReplicatorG by double-clicking the application. The ReplicatorG software will try to connect to your MakerBot 3D printer. You’ll see the band just below the buttons turn light green if everything goes OK.

    If your machine doesn’t connect properly, go to the Machine > Machine Type (Driver) menu in ReplicatorG and choose  your configuration. A dual extrusion MakerBot Replicator (Original) would be "The Replicator Dual."  A MakerBot Replicator 2 would be "Replicator 2."

    Next go to the Machine > Connection (Serial Port) menu. On Windows, try selecting the highest-numbered port. Then click the Connect button.

    The Control Panel

    ReplicatorG’s control panel is a handy utility that allows you to test all of your MakerBot 3D printer’s functionality. You can access it by clicking on the button with four arrows at the upper center of ReplicatorG's main screen. From there, you can move the X,Y, and Z axes, control the heat of your extruders and platform, and move your extruder motors backward and forward. You can change or load filament by heating up your extruders and then using the extruder motors.

    On the left side of the control panel window, you can use the axis buttons superimposed on the image of your MakerBot 3D printer to move each axis. The labels are arranged to match the direction of movement that you’ll see on the MakerBot 3D printer, and the plus or minus matches the direction you’ll see in the GCode. We highly recommend the Continuous Jog setting here, but you can also move the axes by predetermined increments.

    In the lower right, you’ll see the temperature settings. There’s a color-coded realtime readout of the temperatures for your extruder or extruders, as well as the heated platform. To set a target for any of these, just type the target temperature (in Celsius) into any of the boxes on the left and then hit enter.

    To load or unload filament, set the target temperature for the extruder in question to about 225° C. Once it hits the target temperature, you can load or unload filament. To load or unload, you’ll need to release the filament guide tubes. Press the gray ring on top of the extruder and pull the tube.

    To unload, just tell the extruder in question to reverse at 3 rpm for 30 seconds to a minute until you can remove the filament. To load, have the extruder move forward at 3 rpm and push the filament until it catches.

    Acceleration

    If you have a MakerBot Replicator 2 or a MakerBot Replicator (Original) that was shipped after July 9, 2012, you should have firmware 5.5 or later and the capability to print with acceleration. It's turned off by default, but you can turn it on using the Onboard Preferences screen, which you'll find in the Machine menu, or through the General Settings menu on your MakerBot 3D printer itself. If you have an earlier version of the firmware, you can update it through the most recent version of MakerWare or ReplicatorG.

    Thingiverse to Thing

    Now that you’ve got ReplicatorG set up, you need a 3D model to replicate. It's time to explore Thingiverse, our popular design-sharing website. Take some time to explore the popular and featured Things of Thingiverse or use the search bar to find exactly what you’re looking for. And remember, all the designs on Thingiverse are free!

    Once you’ve found that special print, you will need to download the STL file that goes with it. The downloadable STL file should be located on the left hand side of your browser window, directly below the image of the object.

    Next, you’ll need to get the file into ReplicatorG. Select Open from the drop-down File menu in ReplicatorG and then select the file using the dialog box -- or you could just open up ReplicatorG, find your STL file, and drag it into the ReplicatorG window.

    Now that your file is loaded, you should see an image of the model in ReplicatorG. This is the model view, and you can always return here by clicking on the tab labeled Model.

    Move, Scale, Rotate

    While ReplicatorG’s main purpose is to convert your model into a form your MakerBot 3D printer understands, you can also use it to make basic changes to your models so they print better.

    First, make sure that your model is oriented correctly. Go into Rotate mode by pressing the Rotate button at the lower right hand side of ReplicatorG. You can make adjustments in any mode by clicking and holding the model and then moving the mouse, but it can be easier to just use the buttons. Rotate mode's buttons will rotate your model by 90 degrees in x, y, or z.  Use them to make sure that the model’s flattest side is on the bottom and also to avoid overhangs.

    Next, make sure the model is resting on the surface of the platform, not suspended in air or below the platform. Go ahead and click the Move button, followed by Put on platform.  You can also use this opportunity to center your object, by pressing the button labeled Center.

    Once your model is in the right position, you might want to make it larger or smaller.  To do that, click the Scale button.  If you know exactly how you want to change the size, put the multiplier in the box and click Scale.  0.5 will halve the size of the model, and 2.0 will double it.

    Slicing

    Once your model is in position and ready to go, you’ll need to slice it.

    Slicing is the process of breaking down your design into a set of movements for your MakerBot to make. These instructions are called GCode, and they tell the bot exactly where to move the extruder in order to build your item up layer by layer. ReplicatorG’s main job is to take your 3D models and turn them into this set of step-by-step instructions.  To get started, click the Generate GCode button.

    Before you generate GCode, make sure your GCode generator -- found in the GCode menu -- is set to the most recent version.

    The first thing you’ll want to do here is select the proper Base Profile for your bot. Start off with the default profile that best matches your MakerBot.

    You can also choose to Use Raft/Support which prints a thick base underneath your print, which can later be broken off. Rafts can help with tall, thin prints that may have trouble sticking to the build platform.  Support material is a thin webbing of plastic to help prints with extreme overhangs. We won’t use these for now, but don’t forget about them.

    For now you’ll want to use machine-specific start/end GCode and use Print-O-Matic so that your MakerBot 3D printer will run at its default settings. You may notice that the menu that appears when you choose to use Print-O-Matic shows a number of interesting options. Print-O-Matic is a great way to change the infill, layer height, and speed of your prints. Find out more about it here.

    Once you’re happy with your settings, simply hit the Generate GCode button, and let your computer do the heavy lifting.

    Now that you’ve got your GCode, there are two ways to get it to your MakerBot 3D printer. If your computer is connected to the MakerBot 3D printer, you can simply click the Build button. That's the one at the upper left that looks like an arrow pointing to a bean. Your other option is to click on the build to file button (the third button, with the arrow pointing to a sheet of paper) and export the GCode to your SD card as an s3g file. Now just put the SD card into your bot’s SD slot and use the LCD interface to start your print!  There's a 26-character limit on filenames for use with the MakerBot Replicator (Original) and MakerBot Replicator 2, so if you're having trouble, just make that filename a bit shorter.

    And remember, if you change your mind and want to print something else, you can always press the center button and use the arrows to navigate to a cancellation.


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