Printing with the Afinia H480

If you’re a 3SPACE beginner, then you should start with an Afinia H480 printer. This basic printer is best for printing small, quick models with rafts and automatic supports.

General Rules and Usage

ACCESS:  To use the Afinia H480 printers you must either be in a 3SPACE class or workshop, or trained and certified by an instructor or technical TA. Afinia print jobs must finish before the start of the next scheduled 3SPACE class time. Please refer to the Calendar for class times and open hours.

FILAMENT:  Please do not remove or change filament unless absolutely necessary, and only if you are certified to do so. We are monitoring filament usage in the classroom.

BE KIND:  Clean up your messes, label unattended print jobs, and don’t overuse the machines or the filament supply. If you notice a problem with one of the printers, please notify someone and leave a detailed note.

Safety

HOT THINGS:  The extrusion nozzle gets very hot while printing; be careful not to touch or brush against it while in use. The build platform will be hot to the touch but should not be hot enough to cause burns except during prolonged contact.

MOVING THINGS:  The Afinia printers have mechanical parts that will not stop if a hand or finger is in the way. Please stay out of the range of motion of the moving parts of the machines.

SHARP THINGS:  Some of the hand tools are sharp, and should be used with appropriate caution. In particular, never cut towards either of your hands or apply pressure with a sharp tool. Use eye protection as needed to guard against flying bits of sharp plastic.

Step 1:  Check the printer

POWER:  Turn on the printer from the back right corner (not the front button), so that the light at the front of the machine is on.

BUILD SURFACE:  The perf board should be attached with four clips, two in front and two in back (not sides!), as shown in the picture. There should be smooth, clean blue tape on the perf board over the printing area.

FILAMENT:  Make sure that the filament spool is loaded with PLA, has enough material for your print, and does not appear tangled or broken. If a filament change is required, and if you are certified to so so, please follow the Change Afinia Filament instructions.

Step 2:  Initialize and preheat the printer

INITIALIZE:  Open the Afinia “3D” software from the Dock at the bottom of the computer desktop. Choose 3D Print / Initialize from the menu at the top of the computer screen (not from the button labeled “3D Print”). The printer should beep and move into starting position.

PREHEAT:  From the top 3D Print menu, choose Table Heat 15 Minutes to preheat the build platform.

WAIT:  If you are printing a large object then you should wait until the build platform is very hot to the touch before starting your print. The heated platform helps larger prints adhere to the build plate and prevents “curling up” at the corners.

Step 3:  Load and arrange your model

PLACE:  Press the Load button and choose the STL file you want to print from the computer. Then press the Auto Placement button to move the model to an appropriate position on the build platform.

SCALE: To make your model larger or smaller, select the Scale radio button and then enter or select a scaling factor from the Parameter menu. Then press the Scale button beneath the Transform menu.

ROTATE: Sometimes rotating your model can reduce or eliminate the need for supports. Select the Rotate radio button and enter or select a degree value from the Parameter menu. Then press one of the XYZ buttons in the Transform menu.

Step 4:  Set print preferences

OPTIONS:  From the 3D Print menu at the top of the screen (not the “3D Print” button), select Print Preview. In the Options area, check that Quality is set to Normal and Heat platform after finish is set to No.

PRINT SETUP:  From inside the Print Preview menu, press the Preference button to get the Print Setup menu, then press Restore Defaults. Then make sure that the Z Resolution is set to 0.30mm and set Fill to Big Hole (the sparsest infill setting).

TIME:  After you exit the Preferences windows, the software will give you an estimated print time. Make a note of this time.

Step 5:  Press print!

PRINT:  Finally you can press the 3D Print button. The front light on the printer should blink red and green while the data for your model is being sent to the machine.

WATCH:  Keep an eye on your print job until the Raft is finished and the first few rows of your model have printed successfully. After that, your print can continue unattended if you leave a note with your name and the print job start/end time. Prints without notes, or whose print time overlaps a scheduled class, may be canceled.

CANCEL?  To stop a print job, select 3D Print / Maintenance and click Stop All. Or, press and hold down the button on the front of the machine until the plate starts moving down.

Step 6:  Remove your model and reset

REMOVE THE PLATE:  Hold the button on the front of the machine until the platform lowers all the way and moves back. Then carefully remove the clips (don’t reach through the inside of the machine) and take off the build platform.

REMOVE THE MODEL:  If it’s easy to do so, just pull your model off the plate. If it seems like force will be required, then use the Cricut scraper to gently scrape off your print.

PRINT A TEST SQUARE:  If nobody is in line to use the printer, then before you leave you should print a test square **LINK** with standard settings. When it’s done, turn off the machine from the button on the back. If the test print fails then cancel the print and leave a note on the machine.

Step 7:  Clean up your print

RAFT:  Pry off the raft from the base of your object using the yellow pliers. Go slowly and try to twist off the entire raft rather than cutting. Warn bystanders that sharp bits of plastic can sometimes go flying.

SUPPORT:  If your model printed with supports, then cut or pry them off with the pliers. Be careful near delicate parts of your model that might break during support removal.

CLEAN UP:  Please put PLA scrap support and raft material into the proper bins; we may be able to recycle or upcycle this scrap filament later. Clean up and put away any tools and equipment.

When things go wrong

EMERGENCY STOP:  You can always stop the printer by pressing and holding the front button until the platform moves down. Do not shut off the machine from the back button without supporting the platform, or it will crash down and damage the machine.

REPORTING PROBLEMS:  If you notice a printer malfunctioning, please stop the print job and leave a note with your name and phone number that describes the problem.

WHAT NOT TO DO:  Please do not attempt to repair, calibrate, level, re-load, or take apart the Afinia printers unless you are a 3SPACE instructor or TA. Just stop the printer, leave a detailed note, and move to another machine.

Troubleshooting

The following is a list of things that might go wrong, listed in order of when you would encounter them in the 3D printing process. Unless otherwise indicated, these are issues that students and faculty visitors to 3SPACE can fix themselves. Please notify an instructor or TA if assistance is required.

KEYBOARD NOT WORKING:  Check the batteries. If you do have battery power, try turning the keyboard off and on again from the button on the keyboard. If that doesn’t work, try restarting the computer.

MOUSE NOT WORKING:  Unplug the tiny USB nugget from the back of the computer and then plug it back in again. If that doesn’t work, make sure the mouse is turned “on” underneath and check the battery level.

AFINIA 3D SOFTWARE HANGS:  Sometimes if you leave the 3D Print / Maintenance window open for too long, the Afinia 3D software will crash, and the mouse cursor will turn into a colorful spinning wheel. If this happens, force-quit the Afinia software by right-clicking the “3D” icon in the dock and moving the mouse to Force Quit. When working in the Maintenance screen, close the window as soon as possible to avoid this problem.

“NOT ENOUGH MATERIAL” SPOOL ERROR:  If the Afinia software warns that “not enough material is left, please replace new spool,” but there is plenty of filament left, go to 3D Print / Maintenance and click on the New Spool button, make sure it is set to PLA, estimate the amount of filament on the spool (a full spool is 500g) and then click “OK”.

“MODEL OUTSIDE OF PRINT RANGE” ERROR:  If the Afinia software warns that “the model is outside of print range,” but clearly it is not, then it may be necessary to reset the nozzle height of the printer. If you are certified to do so, please follow the Reset Afinia Nozzle Height instructions.

PRINTER HANGS WHEN RECEIVING DATA:  Is the light on your printer doing the superfast red/green “crazy blink” right after you sent a print job? If the blinking is very rapid and the layer progress bar in the software seems stalled, then you’re basically going to have to turn everything off and on again. Press and hold the button on the front of the printer until it re-initializes. Then turn off the printer and unplug both end of the cord that connects the printer to the computer. Quit the Afinia 3D software. Then plug the cord back in (possibly even to a different USB port on the back of the computer), restart the Afinia software, and re-initialize from the software menu. Then try your print again! If this problem happens more than once, do all of the above again plus also restart the computer.

PRINTER MAKES A LOUD EXTENDED BEEEEEP:  Sometimes one of the Afinias just goes crazy and makes a super loud beep that doesn’t stop. Shut off the printer (support the build platform with a glove or pen so that it does not crash down). It may be worth turning everything on and off again, including restarting the computer, and trying again.

PRINTER MAKES SCRAPING NOISE:  Stop the print immediately. A scraping noise may indicate that the nozzle height is set too close to the platform. A scraping noise could also be an indication that the build plate or clips are running into the side of the machine; in that case re-align the clips or plate accordingly. If you are certified to do so, please follow the Reset Afinia Nozzle Height instructions.

PRINTER MAKES CLICKING NOISE:  Stop the print if there appears to be a serious problem, or if filament is no longer extruding from the nozzle. A clicking sound can indicate that the nozzle is clogged, and that the gear feeder is clicking as it unsuccessfully attempts to continue feeding the filament. Clogs can be caused when the nozzle extrudes while too close to the platform, when off-brand or non-PLA filament is used, and when the filament gets tangled or snaps. If you are certified to do so, please follow the Change Afinia Filament and/or Reset Afinia Nozzle Height instructions.

“AIR PRINTING” AND UNDEREXTRUSION:  If the filament seems like it is not extruding enough, or if your print looks smushed down by the nozzle passing over it, or if the machine simply stops extruding and moves around with no filament coming out of it, then your nozzle height may be set too close to the platform. If you are certified to do so, please follow the Reset Afinia Nozzle Height instructions.

PLATFORM DOES NOT SEEM LEVEL:  If the platform of the printer seems crooked, so that prints only adhere correctly on one side, or if the platform itself appears loose, then please inform an instructor or TA.

RAFT NOT PRINTING CORRECTLY:  If your print fails at the raft stage, go to 3D Print / Print Preview and check the Quality setting. If it is set to Fast then change it to Normal. If it is already set to Normal then it might be worth trying a reprint with it set to Fine.

RAFT CURLS UP AT THE CORNERS:  If your raft is peeling up at the corners, then make sure that the build platform is very hot to the touch. If you forgot to wait while the build platform preheated, then stop the print and start over, this time letting the build platform get very hot before restarting. If your object is large and flat then it may have trouble even when the build platform is fully preheated. It may help if you add small short discs just outside the corners of your model so that the raft prints wider, around those discs. Or, try making your print smaller, or using a machine with a larger print area.

MODEL COMES LOOSE DURING PRINTING:  If your model comes off the build platform mid-print then it could get stuck to the nozzle and cause a giant blob of filament to build up, or it could fall of the platform entirely, causing the rest of your print to extrude mid-air and make a nest of angel-hair pasta. In any case you need to stop the print as soon as possible. Check that your digital model makes good contact with the platform; is there a good flat surface on the bottom of your design where it makes contact with the build plate? It may also be that the nozzle height needs adjusting. If you are certified to do so, please follow the Reset Afinia Nozzle Height instructions.

FILAMENT GETS TWISTED OR BREAKS:  If you notice that the filament is twisted around the spool holder or is tangled in some way, then see if you can undo the tangle or twist. If you can’t, or if the filament is broken or kinked, then stop the print. If you are certified to do so, please follow the Change Afinia Filament instructions.

SOME OTHER TERRIBLE THING IS HAPPENING:  If you don’t know what is happening but it looks bad, then stop the print. Even if it isn’t your print! Stop the print and leave a note with a detailed description of the problem, and notify a TA or instructor if possible.

RAFT IS FUSED TO PRINTED MODEL:  After printing, sometimes the raft is very difficult to remove. If it is especially stubborn and seems fused to the model, then your printer may be accidentally set to ABS instead of PLA filament. To check this, go to 3D Print / Maintenance and check that it says PLA in the top left of the window. If it is set for ABS, then click New Spool, estimate how much filament is left (it’s okay if your estimate is not that accurate) and set to PLA. You may want to reprint your model with the correct settings, because fused rafts can be nearly impossible to remove.

SUPPORT IS DIFFICULT TO REMOVE:  If the support material on your printed model is too difficult to remove, then you may have to re-print with some modifications. First of all, think about how you could place your object to minimize support. Sometimes turning an object upside-down or on its side can reduce overhangs significantly. Another option is to change the support settings in the Preference submenu of the 3D Print / Print Preview menu so that less support is generated for your model. Selecting Angle < 10 will minimize the amount of support that the Afinia 3D software adds to your model, and selecting Angle base only will attempt to remove support entirely.

PRINTED MODEL IS NOT GOOD, PART 1:  If you are printing a model that you designed yourself, then you may need to iterate your design, make adjustments, and print it again. In fact, you may need to do this many times before you get a successful print!

PRINTED MODEL IS NOT GOOD, PART 2: If you are printing a model that you downloaded from Thingiverse, then it may be that the model isn’t optimized for 3D printing, or perhaps has never been tested before. Check to see that the model listing has a photograph that proves it has Actually Been Printed Before, and see if there are any hints about printer settings that you could apply. If the downloaded design needs improvement then you might have to remix it yourself in Tinkercad or some other software.

PRINTED MODEL IS NOT GOOD, PART 3: Finally, if your model has a lot of detail, enclosed hinges, close clearances, needs to print without a raft, or needs to print with custom supports, then the Afinia H480 might not be the best machine for your print. You might consider using one of the other machines in 3SPACE, if you are cleared for printing on those machines.