Getting started with your Sculpto 3D printer
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is a way to build objects in every possible size and shape. Unlike ordinary 2D printing that you might know from a Canon printer at home, 3D printing is not only able to create flat objects. A 3D printer also has a third dimension that makes the printer capable of printing upwards and thereby creating objects in various forms. The most common way a 3D printer works is by pulling a biodegradable type of plastic – in the shape of a more than 100 meters long string – into a heated metal nozzle that melts the material. The nozzle and the surface on which the printer prints subsequently moves in the pattern that you wish to print.
This process repeats itself layer by layer during which the distance between the nozzle and the print surface increases. This is how the wanted object gets its shape, also upwards.
On a Sculpto 3D printer the nozzle is located on a movable arm, whereas the printing surface is moving in circles. During a print, the distance between the two is gradually increased. This process is clearly shown in the video to the right.
How do you design models?
There’s a long row of free 3D modelling programs out there which are easy to use. Sculpto supports most of these programs – the only requirement is that the program is able to export an STL file.
We have tested a lot of different programs. Here are some of those that we would recommend to beginners and people with only little experience in 3D printing:
How long does it take?
The answer to that question depends on several factors, e.g. the size of the object you wish to print. The time needed between a small print and a large one that fills the entire surface is going to be a lot more. Furthermore, it depends on how smooth you want the surface of the printed object to be. The smoother the surface, the longer it will take.
Something else to be aware of when 3D printing is that the more filament an object requires, the longer it takes and the more expensive it will be.
Another factor to mention is the level of detail of the object. If the printed object has a lot of small details, the print could take quite a long time to print, even though it might not be a very big object.
The grey smartphone holder on the right takes about 1 hour to print in normal quality.
Frequently asked questions
The Sculpto app is free!
If you want to design your own 3D models, you can find a lot of free 3D modelling programs on the internet.
You can find a lot of different free 3D modelling programs that are easy to use. The Sculpto 3D printer supports most of them – all it takes is for the program being able to export STL files (in other words, files in the file format .stl).
We have tested a bunch of programs that we recommend to beginners and people with little 3D printing experience:
On our Facebook-page you can se some of the things that we have printed in 3D and get inspired!
You can also see the 3D models that are a part of the Sculpto app – you can download the app on Google Play and in App Store.
Or get creative by designing your very own models in e.g. a 3D modelling program.
You can only print in one color at a time on this type of printer. If you wish to print an object in multiple colors, we recommend to divide the object in several smaller parts and print one part at a time in the color of your choice.
Besides that, it’s also possible for you to apply paint to your 3D prints.
The 3D printer pulls a biodegradable plastic material – in the shape of a more than 100 metre long cord – into a hot metal nozzle that melts the plastic material. The nozzle and the surface on which the printer is printing subsequently move in the pattern that you wish to print. This process is repeated layer by layer while the distance of the nozzle to the surface is increased. In this way, the object you want to print is also shaped upwards.
On a Sculpto 3D printer, the metal nozzle is located on a moveable arm whilst the printing surface is rotating circularly beneath the nozzle.
The Sculpto 3D printer uses a biodegradable plastic material called PLA which is made of sugar beets and corn. It’s not toxic and no harmful fumes are released when printing. The PLA is delivered on rolls (called filament) of either 0,5 or 1 kg and you can order it from Sculpto’s webshop.
It exists in various different colors and we are continuously adding new variations to the webshop – see the current selection here
People oftentimes get pleasantly surprised by the price of 3D printing. Mainly, there are two types of costs involved with 3D printing:
1) The printing material: You print using filament that you buy in rolls of 0.5 or 1 kg. In order to save material and time, your 3D prints will never be printed 100 % massive. Instead, the Sculpto 3D printer will print a grid in the solid parts of your models. This grid maintains the strength of the object and saves material. You can adjust the strength by increasing or decreasing the density of the grid.
In other words, it’s the weight of your print object that decides the price. The weight is shown to you before you start the print. The suggested retail price of 1 kg Sculpto filament is 250 DKK. Based on that price, here are a few examples of the cost of 3D printing:
Table-tennis ball: 1,25 DKK
Tennis ball: 3,25 DKK
2) Power: The power consumption of a Sculpto 3D printer is roughly the same as the power consumption of a typical laptop.
- Check the security of your network. The Sculpto+ can’t connect to a network with WPA2 Enterprise or a network, that requires a personal user login. For such a network, you’ll need the Pro version of the printer. Please contact us by e-mail for more information about the Pro version.
- Make sure that you have used the correct username/email and password. There can only be one unique user associated with each Sculpto printer. Please contact our customer service if you have created several user accounts and you’re not sure which one is associated with your printer.
I still can’t connect my printer to the network. What can I do?
If you have gone through the 2 points above and you still are none the wiser, please read the following:
- Make sure that the printer is within reach of your Wi-Fi network.
- Make sure that you have downloaded the latest version of the Sculpto App.
- Make sure that your router is transmitting on a 2.4 GHz frequency
- Only use the iOS or Android App when trying to setup your printer. Setup of the printer can’t be done through the Web App (https://app.sculpto.dk/).
- Restart the printer, log in to the App once more and try again.
- White (looks light blue to some): The printer is connected to the internet and is ready for use.
- Blue, flashing: The printer is trying to connect to the most recently used network.
- Blue, constant: The printer has internet connection and is trying to get in touch with our server.
- Yellow, flashing (looks light green to some): The printer isn’t connected to a network or hasn’t been set-up.
- Purple: The printer is receiving an update.
- Multiple colors, flashing: If the printer hasn’t been turned on or is receiving an update, this is a color code to confirm your presence.
- Red, constant: Error. Get in touch with our customer service.
The printer is not showing required color code when changing filament or starting a new print. What can I do?
If your printer is not showing a color code when you’re being asked to enter a color code in the Sculpto App, it may be due to a missing update for the printer.
If you haven’t received any message in the app regarding an available update, please try the following:
- Log out of the app then log back in.
- Log in from a different device or via the Web App.
- Reinstall the Sculpto App.
Log in with the account associated with the printer, select “Printer tools” then “Change printer Wi-Fi”.
Each Sculpto 3D printer can only have one unique user associated at a time. Therefore, you can’t connect a printer to a new user if another user already is associated with this printer. To associate a new user with the printer, you have to disassociate the original user first. You find this option by choosing “User settings” (the tab in the middle) and then the gear in the top left corner.
This ensures that others can’t gain unauthorized access to your printer and thereby strengthens the security.
Before a print
Watch the video guide above this FAQ and pay attention especially to the following:
- Make sure that the end of the filament thread that you insert into the printer has a sharp edge
- Make sure that you press the filament thread as far into the printer as possible and maintain this pressure while choosing “eat filament” in the app
- Make sure that the filament spool is able to rotate freely
- I’m still having problems getting the printer to eat the filament. What else can I do?
If the above-mentioned doesn’t help, check if the filament gear of the printer looks grinded. If it looks worn, you can order a new gear in the webshop of this website.
If you have the STL file of your own model on your computer, it’s probably the easiest to print via the Web App. You do this by visiting https://app.sculpto.dk/, logging in and then choosing “Print your own STL file” which is located in the top right corner. Then press “Upload” and choose the file that you want to be printed.
If you have the STL file in e.g. iCloud, you could print it through the app on your smartphone or tablet by choosing “Print your own STL file” which is located in “Printer” (the tab on the right).
Yes, you can also print from your computer via the Web App. You’ll find it at https://app.sculpto.dk/. Please note that you can’t use the Web App when setting up the printer.
Usually, it’s not necessary for the user to calibrate since this happens automatically after each print. If you experience problems that could be due to an inaccurate calibration (e.g. a bad raft), you could try to calibrate the printer manually. Watch in the video below how it’s done.
During a print
No. Once the printer has started to print you can close the app on your computer or smartphone. You can even turn off your home Wi-Fi – when the printer has started to print the files stored locally on the printer and therefor it does not need any contact with your device or home-network.
This type of problem could occur if the Z axis is calibrated too far away from the build-plate.
1) Therefore, try a manual calibration of the Z axis. You do this by visiting “Printer tools” in the Sculpto App (also watch the tutorial video about how to calibrate the Z axis. You find the tutorial under “How do I calibrate the Z axis?” above).
2) If you have a Buildtak Buildplate then we recommend to clean it with the blue ‘glass cleaner’ spray you use at home.
3) If your printer is placed in a place where the temperature is lower than 22 C or where there is a risk of drag from nearby windows or doors, then this can cause the raft to let go of the buildplate. Place your printer in a warmer room away from any drag.
4) Check if there is any dirt or filament-leftovers on the buildplate’s 3 mangets or in the pockets where you place the magnets of the buildplate. Remove dirt and filament-leftovers.
No, this is not possible.
If you’ve been experiencing that not enough filament is being extruded through the nozzle during printing, which results in print objects with unexpected holes or missing layers, it’s most likely due to one of two things:
A) The filament gear. If your printer’s filament gear (which pulls the filament string into the printer) is dirty, worn or mounted incorrectly, it can lead to under-extrusion. Look at the first half of our instructional video to see if your filament gear could be the reason for the under-extrusion you’re experiencing.
B) The nozzle. It is most likely the filament gear that is causing the issue – so do NOT start cleaning the nozzle before you have tried to change the filament gear. It is rather complicated to clean the nozzle and incorrect assembly can make the problem worse. If you have changed the filament gear, checked that the system is assembled correctly and there is no leftover filament in the extruder system, but there is still not coming enough filament our of the printer then continue to follow the second half of this video. Follow the video carefully and make sure to assemble the system exactly as in the video.
After a print
I’m having problems removing the raft from the build-plate and/or from the printed object. What can I do?
This problem can occur if the Z-axis of the printer has been calibrated too close to the build-plate. Try calibrating the Z-axis manually by visiting “Printer tools” in the Sculpto App.
With bigger print objects, you can bend the flexible build-plate and thereby getting the object to release from the build-plate. You could also try to loosen the object from the build-plate using a dough scraper, spatula or something similar. Watch the video below to see an example of how it could be done.
There are several possible reasons for shifting. Here is a list of the most common:
- The Z axis is calibrated too close to or too far from the build-plate
- Your build-plate is no longer even enough – either due to wear and tear or because of dirt between the magnets underneath the build-plate and the magnet holes on the base of the printer
- You’re perhaps trying to print an object that isn’t designed for this type of 3D printer
- Wrong choice of support when uploading your own .stl file
If none of the above answers seems to fix the issue then try to rotate or turn the model. Always try to rotate the model in a way where the model supports it self, so that you will need as little support-structure as possible. Example: If you are printing a glass then turn it with the bottom of the glass down towards the buildplate – then there will be needed no support-structure, where if you turn it upside down the printer will need to cover the bottom of the glass with support-structure, which will increase printing-time, material use and the chance of failure.
Are you experiencing that all your prints are failing no matter what you do then it might be a mechanical failure. Start to look for filament leftovers in the big white gear that rotates the buildplate. Afterward make a Y-calibration under advanced settings in the app. If none of this is helping – contact support.
- If you are experiencing inaccuracies when you’re printing at the center of the build-plate, the reason could be that the calibration of the arm (the Y-axis) isn’t quite accurate. You can test this by going to “Printing tools” in the app and start the Y-calibration. After having printed the “Y test”, please measure the length of it (it’s important that you use a very precise measuring device, e.g. a vernier caliper) and type in the length of the test print to end calibration.
If you notice small flaws on the surface of your 3D prints or if the two steel axes of the printer look dry, we recommend applying a couple of drops of sewing-machine oil to the two steel axes (don’t use WD40 since it could damage the coating of the steel axes!).
You should apply PTFE oil to the threaded rod of the printer once every 6 months.
If you have a Buildtak Buildplate and then clean it with the blue glass cleaner when you experience the adhesion to the buidplate disappear. If you have a white buildplate from the Sculpto1 – the replace it with a Buildtak Buildplate.
Also, make sure to clean the surfaces on the printer with a moist cloth on regular basis – don’t forget to clean underneath the buildplate as well. Dirt and filament-leftovers can cause mechanical failures.
In principle, the printer only has 2 wear parts. How fast – if ever – they get worn down, depends on how well you maintain the printer.
If you maintain it well, these parts could last for years. However, if you treat the printer in a wrong or harmful way, the parts will get worn down quicker.
The 2 wear parts consist of a filament gear that puts the filament string forward and the opal build-plate on which the objects are being printed. You can buy these wear parts in Sculpto’s web-shop on this web-page for a very affordable price.
You can now enable expert mode for your printer. This will make it possible to print raw g-code on your Sculpto 3D printer. When enabled it cannot be disabled and we will always be able to see that you have enabled expert mode.
PLEASE NOTICE THAT WE STRONGLY ADVISE AGAINST ENABLING EXPERT MODE SINCE USING IT CAN SEVERELY DAMAGE YOUR PRINTER. PLEASE READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS CAREFULLY.
When you print g-code using expert mode the printer automatically heats up and running the start sequence like you know from printing your own STL or when printing a model from the app. This heats the hot-end to 200 degrees Celsius and then the start sequence begins with the probing of the print bed and extruding in the perimeter of the build plate. This means that we have injected the offsets that is unique to your printer and you don’t have to worry about the offsets when printing your own g-code. After the start sequence it will automatically start printing the g-code that you have uploaded to your printer. Please be very careful where you place center in your slicer and the size of the buildplate. We cannot advice on this since it is different from slicer to slicer. The build space is 20 centimeters in diameter and 16 centimeters in height.
If you wish to enable expert mode please go to https://app.sculpto.dk/#!/expert. Please make sure to be logged into the web-app with the user that owns the printer you wish to enable expert mode on otherwise you will not be able to proceed.
If you wish to change language in the app, please visit the user settings (choose the middle of the 3 tabs in the bottom and press the small cogwheel in the top left hand corner). Here, one of the options is “change language”.
In order to change language in the web app, you need to click on the picture of the globe in top left hand corner of the login page.
We highly recommend that you use original Sculpto filament for your Sculpto 3D printer. This not only ensures the highest success rate, but is also top-quality biodegradable and non-toxic filament that results in solid and durable objects.
Furthermore, we can only sustain the warranty of your printer if you use original Sculpto filament, since we can’t otherwise give any guarantee for the service life of the printer!
You can buy the original Sculpto filament at a Sculpto retailer.
If you want to use different filament anyways, then you should activate “Expert Mode” so that you will be able to adjust the print-settings to the new filament otherwise you might experience bad printing quality, the raft will not separate from the object and the chance of the nozzle clocking will increase, which is not covered by the warranty when using unoriginal Sculpto filament.
The main difference between the three print settings is the thickness of the layers and also, how long it takes to print the object.
At the setting ‘Fine’ the layer thickness is 0,15 mm, at ‘Normal’ it’s 0,25 mm and at ‘fast’ it’s 0,35 mm.
The size of the nozzle is 0,6 mm. The printer head is produced in England by a company named E3D which is known for producing some of the best printer heads in the world.
The printer and the app aren’t directly communicating with each other and therefore they don’t need to be connected to the same network. The printer talks to the Sculpto app via our online server.
You have the possibility to log into your user account from multiple devices at the same time and thereby monitoring your printer from your computer in the office, as well as on your iPad on the couch at home.
A first good layer (also called ‘raft’) is essential for the success of a print. If the nozzle is too far from the build-plate (picture on the left), you risk that the print object will let go of the build-plate at some time during the print. If the nozzle is calibrated too close to the build-plate (picture in the middle), it could wear down parts of the printer’s hardware and the build-plate. The first layer doesn’t need to be 100% perfect in order to achieve a successful printing result, but it increases the probability considerably. You can manually calibrate the Z axis by visiting “printer tools” (the tab on the right) in the Sculpto app.