The Print Cycle is the order of events that will get you through a successful print. We will do a quick overview of each of these topics, and cover them in greater detail in separate pages. We will be presenting this process in the finite, detail oriented way possible. Do understand that in practice this process is quite simple, and much less complicated than it looks on this page.
Step 1: Modeling
Before we can even start making prints we will have to obtain some models. We can either begin from scratch with a 3D modeling program, or obtain the models from an outside site such as Thingiverse.
If you are having trouble figuring out which prints you would like to do, you should investigate our article on Your First Ten Prints.
Step 2: The STL File
For our software to understand your 3D models you will have to get them into STL format. The .STL file is fairly universal, and most software has an available conversion tool for it. For deeper information on STL files please check out All About STLs.
The most important thing is to realize that the STL file describes your file in a standardized format that is easily dealt with by slicer software.
We will need to make sure that the STL file is properly placed on the platform before slicing.
Step 3: Slicing
Since 3D printing works by printing in layers, the software must "slice" your print into layers. This is done through slicing utilities such as Skeinforge and Slic3r. Slicers are usually held inside printer host programs such as Pronterface or Repetier host.
In the case of the default software package this is accomplished by loading up Pronterface, and entering skeinforge through the "slicing settings" option.
Slicing tends to have lots of options. Check out more detailed information at All About Slicing
Step 4: Connect Printer
The printer must establish a live connection with your computer over USB. This is achieved by hitting "connect" in pronterface.
Step 5: Printing
The step you all have been waiting for. This involves loading the G-Code file into the Solidoodle and pressing print. There aren't many options to tweak at this point, as most of the printing data has been imparted on the print at the G-Code stage.
Step 6: Print Removal
You have finally created your print. Now you remove it from the print area. Some prints are easy to remove, but most will need some pushing with a tool like a paint scraper to remove from the print area. Be careful not to harm your Kapton tape. If you have a heated bed, you will likely need to turn off the bed and let it cool in order to remove your print. Printing on a raft can help with easier removal, but should not be required to print on a heated bed.