About 3D Printing
WHERE TO BEGIN
There is a LOT of information on 3D printing available today. What type of printer to get, how to design a model, how to troubleshoot a print... Personally, I have a Flashforge Creator Pro and I print a lot of mathematical models. All I can offer is my experience with this particular printer for this particular purpose. This is an excellent resource if you are trying to print my models using PLA. If you are using ABS or any other material, you might want to look elsewhere.
I always print with PLA. My prints are consistently much higher quality than anything I have ever printed with ABS. So far, I've gotten the best results when the temperature of the extruder is 193º C and the extruder prints at about 30-50 mm/s. Be aware that this is very slow! The default print speed for the Makerbot printing software is 90 mm/s.
The Build plate
While I really like my Flashforge, my biggest complain is the build plate. It seems no matter what I do, models with a large base always begin to peel off the build plate. I am open to suggestions still, but currently, my PLA prints stick best when the heated build plate is turned OFF and a layer of painter's tape is laid firmly down. Hair spray does NOT do anything for me!
Occasionally I print models in two colors. Especially in mathematical models, using two colors helps emphasize special features in the print. Some things to be aware of is that every time the extruder changes colors, one extruder cools slightly while the other heats. As a result, a small deposit of material is left on the model. Some people print a pillar alongside the model for the deposit to collect. I haven't tried that yet, but I use a file to remove the globs of unwanted color. Using Makerbot's software, to export a two color print, you have to import two, separate .stl files – one file for each color. If you are using one of my tinkercard models, you must select all of the parts of the model that are one color and download only the selection for printing. Then, you must turn all of those parts into a "hole" and select the complement to download for printing. Turning one part into a hole is important, it means anywhere the two colors of the model intersect, only one layer is printed. If you don't make it a hole, then the resulting .stls will overlap and the print won't work.
On the Makerbot software, import both .stl files. They will be aligned in the Makerbot software if they were aligned on Tinkercad. Select one of the two models. Click on the "info" button for that model. Set the extruder to "left". (By default, it will be set to "right".) You will therefore have one model printing through the right extruder and one model printing through the left extruder.