Building Prototypes in CubePro

Cube Pro is a 3D printing alternative to the popular MakerBot Replicator Series. This is a step-by-step tutorial to using CubePro for developing prototypes and parts. CubePro is available to Carnegie Mellon University Students in Mechanical Engineering cluster.

Step 1: Material Check

Before starting your print, check the type of material and how much it is available for printing.

Step 2: Building Model Using Cube Pro Software

For printing parts in Cube Pro, you need to develop a build file using the Cube Pro software available on the cluster computers. You need to import a .STL file and align the model on the plate in the software. Make sure that your model dimensions do not exceed the maximum dimensions that Cube Pro can print. After importing and aligning the model, select the printer jet (Jet 1 or Jet 2 depending on the cartridge installation in the Cube Pro) and material in the printer option in Cube Pro software. After selecting this, select “Build”. This open a dialogue where you can select the “Layer Resolution” (70, 200, 300 micron), “Print Strength” (Hollow, Strong, Almost Solid and Solid) and “Print Pattern” (Cross, Diamonds and Honeycomb), determine whether you need “Support Material” for your print and select build. This will create a build file for your model and tell you how time it will take to print.

Step 3: Placing the build plate

Place the build plate in the build chamber. Make sure you use the right sized plate in the Cube pro. Magnets at the bottom of the plate will ensure that the plate stays in plate during the printing process.

Step 4: Plate Leveling

By using the touch screen, open the “Setup” option. Scroll right until you reach the “Level Plate” option. Select “Level Plate” option. Now you will see a square with 3 triangles (representing the leveling screws beneath the build plate) with the top left screw selected by default. Put a sheet of paper on the build plate so that it is between the nozzle and the build plate. Using the leveling screws, raise (CCW motion) or lower (CW motion) the plate so that you are just able to pull the paper out without damaging the paper. By doing so, you not be able to push the paper between the nozzle and the build plate. Repeat the process for all the leveling screws.

Step 5: Print Your Model

After leveling the plate, go to the home screen. Plug your pen-drive which has your build file for the model you want to print in the slot provided. The build file can be created by using the Cube Pro software on the cluster computers. After you have plugged the pen-drive in, select “Print” on the home screen. You will see different build files on your pen-drive displayed on the screen. Scroll and select the right build file and select “Print” on the bottom of the screen. Cube Pro will now ask you to apply glue on the build plate.

Step 6: Applying Glue

After the build plate comes to rest, apply glue on it covering the area that is going to be covered while printing. A good estimate can be obtained from the build file which shows the expected area covered by the print. Glue should be applied in a smooth fashion without pressing too much on the plate. Also, glue should be applied sufficiently as too little or too much glue will create problems during and after print. Too little glue will lead to the material not sticking to the build plate during print and result in bad print or print failure. Too much glue will result in difficulty in getting the printed part off the build plate and may result in damage to the part. After you have applied the glue, close the Cube Pro door and select the check mark at the bottom of the screen. The Cube Pro will start printing the model.

Step 7: Part Removal

After the print has completed, wait for some time so that the heated plate can cool down. After the cool down, remove the build plate carefully from the Cube Pro and run the part and the plate under water (preferably hot). Water dissolves the glue and allows easier removal of part. You might need to use a chisel to remove you part (depends on the material, print pattern and the amount of glue you have used). After removing the part, clean the part and the plate using paper towels. Also remove and stray chips that might have been left during the part removal on the plate so that you and others have a smooth surface for the next print.