From Team 449 Wiki
3D Printers are used in a process called Additive Manufacturing (AM). AM differs from most of the manufacturing that Team 449 uses in that it adds material little-by-little to make a part, rather than removing material like a saw or drill would.
Parts of extrusion printers
Model/Part: the thing that is being printed in 3D. This is capitalized when used in following definitions.
Filament: A thermoplastic that is extruded to make Parts on a 3D printer
Extruder: The part of a 3D printer that melts the thermoplastic and deposits it onto the Model being built
Build Platform: The platform that the 3D printer prints onto
Team 449's 3D printer is an Ekocycle Cube made by made by 3D Systems, Inc. It currently has two colors of proprietary filament installed: Natural, and Black. The proprietary filament cannot be replenished by generic filament at this moment; each cartridge has a chip that has a record of how much filament has been used, and it is unlikely that those chips can be reset. Parts made from this filament are fairly strong and durable. A single part will probably not hold the weight of an entire robot, but they can certainly hold sensors, cameras, and other non-structural components.
This 3D printer hardly sees any use, yet it is fairly useful, albeit incredibly slow. It prints things from cube3 files, which most likely contain proprietary instructions. However, the 3D Systems Cube Print app can generate cube3 files from various common CAD export formats such as STL. It is a free-to-use program that has a few quirks. Team 449 members are certainly welcome to download Cube Print and print out necessary parts. The printer gives useful prompts to its users, and printing supplies such as Cube Glue and sandpaper are kept with the printer at all times.
- Extrusion-based 3D printers like Team 449's have difficulty in making long, freestanding ledges. Try to position your model in the Cube Print app so that ledges are minimized. (For example, an upside-down "L" bracket would be difficult to print because the long part of the L is only attached from the side)
- Put more parts into a build file at one. Really try to fill up the build platform when possible. Then, the printer can run all night and leave your parts ready-to-go for the next day.