3D Printing using Freecad and Prusa Slicer on a Creality Ender 3

The Creality Ender 3 is arguably the best budget printer for 3D printing on the market. I am lucky enough to have one (though mine’s a little old – here’s the 32 bit uprated latest version on Amazon). Here are a set of posts on using Freecad, Prusa Slicer and other tools to produce my own designs. They are here mainly as an aid-memoir for me. But if you find them useful that’s great.

Connecting Pronterface to Ender 3

You can just drive the Ender 3 using an SD-Card. In fact in many ways that is the best solution. But I wanted to do some 3D printing directly from my laptop running Ubuntu. There was a simple problem I needed to overcome to use the USB connection. Here’s how I fixed it.

Connecting Pronterface to Ender 3 3D printer with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

Fixing Pronterface on Ubuntu 22.04

I’ve found (as it appears have many others) that the Printrun package (which includes Pronterface) is badly broken on Ubuntu 22.04. With no package fix in sight I looked for another way to get Pronterface running on my new 22.04 install. This is what I did to fix the problem.

Fixing Pronterface on Ubuntu 22.04

Setting up Visual Studio Code IDE on Ubuntu 22.04 for Marlin

I needed to help a friend set up Microsoft Visual Studio Code environment to set up and build a custom build of the Marlin softwarefor his bespoke 3D printer. As things worked out the problems got fixed just as I got it up and running. But anyway here’s what I did.

Setting up Visual Studio Code IDE on Ubuntu 22.04 for Marlin

Ultra Simple 3D Design from Start to Print

I don’t use the printer every day. So I forget stuff. Simple stuff. It drives me crazy. So I built a set of posts that followed the development of an ultra simple project from beginning to end. Here they are.

  1. A Simple worked example with Freecad, Slic3r and Pronterface.
  2. How to Turn a Simple Freecad Sketch into 3D Object.
  3. Using Prusa Slicer to produce Gcode for a Creality Ender 3.
  4. Printing on Creality Ender 3 with Pronterface USB connection.
A Gotcha with font setting for ShapeStrings in FreeCAD Also(!) an fix for an extra font problem when using a FreeCAD Snap package

I encountered a trivially simple but annoying issue when setting up the font path for text strings on FreeCAD for the first time. Here’s what it is and how to get round it. (Ubuntu 18.04 & apt-get installed pkg)

FreeCAD Font Path Set Up for Text String Shapes

After upgrading from Ubuntu 18.04 to Ubuntu 20.04 I moved over to using the FreeCAD snap package rather than the traditionally installed FreeCAD package. But there was a problem with accessing the system fonts for the ShapeString tool. Here’s how I fixed it.

FreeCAD Snap Package Font Problems: Fix

How to Add Printable Text to a 3D Design in FreeCAD

I wanted to embed text into a 3-D design. After getting my knees metaphorically skinned going up the learning curve I then put the project down for a couple of weeks. I promptly forgot everything I’d learned. So next time I wrote it down. This is my post aide-memoire that describes how to add text as a cut through to a 3D design.

Simple FreeCAD Text Example: How to cut 3D Text in a design.

How to add raised text on a 3D design in FreeCad

While the above post cuts text into a slab. This one below does the opposite and extrudes out from a block. Just to make it a little more interesting , instead of a flat slab this used a wedge so the text is at an angle.

Another Simple Freecad Text Example: Raised text at an angle

Using a Lithograph as a printing block

One of my experiments with the Ender 3 is to use it to produce a printing block from a an image. I reckon that if I can make a lithograph out of a two layer images (i.e. a silhouette) then I can produce a printing block for printing that silhouette image onto card/plastic/wood or whatever.

Printing a Lithophane as a Block Engraving on an Ender 3

Printing a “Merry Christmas” banner on an Ender 3

This is the first of a series of simple, and I hope useful, projects for the Ender 3 (and any other 3D printer for that matter). It prints a 3-D (2mm thick) banner “Merry Christmas” as two words utilising (as far as I could) the whole build plate on the Ender 3. The “Christmas” is about 11inches long. It comes with STL files for the “Merry” and the “Christmas” and a Gcode file aimed at an Ender 3.

A Merry Christmas on an Ender 3

Ender 3: Is my processor 32 bit? or 8 bit? How to tell.

Ender 3 processor type. How to tell if it is 32 bit or 8 bit.

Ender 3: Is it an 8 bit or 32 Bit Motherboard?(more on how to tell)

CR Touch: Ender 3 Processor issues

This really flows on from the processor identification saga above and has some more information regarding processor identification as well as expounding on what processor you need for the CR Touch self leveling system and also on the BL Touch self leveling system.

CR Touch: Ender 3 Processor issues

Ender 3: Why is my auto home off the plate by about 5mm?

My Auto Home is off the plate. Here’s Why.

Ender 3: Glass bed or Resin?

In my humble opinion a Glass bed is a no-brainer addition to the Ender 3 for a number of reasons. Here’s my thoughts on the subject.

Ender 3 Glass Bed.

Freecad: Wedges and Pyramids Explained

I had a nightmare trying to figure out how to use the Wedge in the Prt workbench (it also makes pyramids). Just so I don’t forget again here is an explanation of the parameters to this geometric shape and how to use it.

Freecad: Wedges and Pyramids Explained

Installing the Latest Cura, Slic3r and Prusa-Slic3r on Ubuntu 18.04

While Ubuntu 18.04 is as rock solid as it gets, some of the packages available on it are down-level including Cura, Slic3r and Prusa Slic3r.. But there is a suer easy way of getting the latest packages on Ubuntu 128.04 as all three of these packages come with what is know as an App Image. Installing an App Image couldn’t be simpler. Here’s how:

Installing the Latest Cura and Slic3r on Ubuntu 18.04. Prusa Slic3r too.

Attaching a Glass bed to an Ender 3 without using Spring Clips.

I hate the way you have to use spring clips to hold the glass bed on an Ender 3. Besides looking awful they can (as I can bitterly attest) foul the print head and cause utter mayhem. I looked for a better solution. I (or rather my wife) came up with what looks like a beautifully cheap and effective solution (and no – it’s not painters tape)

Attaching a Glass bed to an Ender 3 without using Spring Clips.

Printing Bigger on an Ender 3

My trusty Ender 3 has an advertised maximum print area of 220 x 220mm. But you can print out this limit. I wanted to find out how much more so I ran a simple test using a circular target. This threw up a number of Gotch’as that can trip you up when printing outside of the advertised area. Here’s what I did:

Printing Bigger on an Ender 3

Centering the filament Spool on an Ender 3

While I love my Ender 3 I don’t like the way the filament reel just hangs off-centre. I reckon this leads to a lot of extra and necessary tenion of the filament causing it to dig in an tangle as well as potentially snap. So I designed a set of bobbins that centralise the filament reel and reduce the tension on the filament as it is spooled off the reel by the hot end. Here’s what I did with links to the STL and Gcode files if you want to print your own.

Ender 3 Filament Spool Holder Improvement

Ender 3 – Getting the 3D Extrusion to stick to the bed – Fix

Sometimes I get really bad issues getting the 3D extrusion to stick to the bed. When it goes wrong the result is usually a calamity with lots of wasted PLA. Now I’ve found a super-cheap and reliable method to get bed adherence.

Ender 3 – Getting the 3D Extrusion to stick to the bed – Fix

Ender 3 Nozzle Keeps Clogging -Fix

I had a really bad time recently when half way through a print the nozzle would clog for no apparent reason. Here’s how I fixed it with a little praise for two videos that really helped me out.

Creality Ender 3 Nozzle Keeps Clogging: Fix

Ender 3: Changing the Nozzle

After all my grief and suffering with a clogging nozzle I thought I’d write down exactly the pathway to changing the nozzle on an Ender 3 including how to get round a couple of the gotcha’s associated with it.

Ender 3: Changing the Nozzle

Changing the filament on an Ender 3

I thought I’d write up the usually simple process of changing the filament on an Ender 3. There are a couple of snags you may hit which are easily resolved once you know how.

How to Change Filament on an Ender 3

Ender 3 Leveling the Bed

Here’s a quick resume on how I go about leveling the bed on my Ender 3. Is it the best way? I don’t know. But it works for me.

Ender 3 Leveling the Bed

Mirror a Design In FreeCAD

I needed to mirror the right hand side of a design to get the left hand side. But I then needed to do some mods to the left hand side as well after the mirroring. This is what I did to get a mirrored design I could then work on.

Mirror a Design in FreeCad