The Control Panel
ReplicatorG’s control panel is a handy utility that allows you to test all of your printer’s functionality. You can access it by clicking on the button with four arrows at the upper center of ReplicatorG’s main screen. From there, you can move the X,Y, and Z axes, control the heat of your extruders and platform, and move your extruder motors backward and forward. You can change or load filament by heating up your extruders and then using the extruder motors.
On the left side of the control panel window, you can use the axis buttons superimposed on the image of your Wanhao 3D printer to move each axis. The labels are arranged to match the direction of movement that you’ll see on the printer, and the plus or minus matches the direction you’ll see in the GCode. We highly recommend the “Continuous Jog” setting here, but you can also move the axes by predetermined increments.
In the lower right, you’ll see the temperature settings. There’s a color-coded realtime readout of the temperatures for your extruder or extruders, as well as the heated platform. To set a target for any of these, just type the target temperature (in Celsius) into any of the boxes on the left and then hit enter.
To load or unload filament, set the target temperature for the extruder in question to about 225° C. This is a default temperature and the temperature setting you will use for actual prints depends on the material you are using and your own personal preferences. Once it hits the target temperature, you can load or unload filament.
To unload, just tell the extruder in question to reverse at 3 rpm for 30 seconds to a minute until you can remove the filament. To load, have the extruder move forward at 3 rpm and push the filament until it catches.
*You can also load your filament using the menu prompts on your LCD Screen on you Duplicator 4 & 4X.
From STL file to Model
Once you’ve got ReplicatorG set up, you need a 3D model to duplicate. It’s time to explore one of the various 3D model sites listed HERE. From these free file-sharing websites you can browse the different model directories or use the search bar to find the exact model you’re looking for.
Once you’ve found a model you like, you will need to download the STL file that goes with it. Search for the DOWNLOAD FILE button on the model’s webpage and click it.
Next, you’ll need to get the file into ReplicatorG. Select “Open” from the drop-down “File” menu in ReplicatorG and then select the file using the dialog box — or you could just open up ReplicatorG, find your STL file, and drag it into the ReplicatorG window.
Now that your file is loaded, you should see an image of the model in ReplicatorG. This is the model view, and you can always return here by clicking on the tab labeled “model.”
Move, Scale, Rotate
While ReplicatorG’s main purpose is to convert your model into a form your Wanhao 3D printer understands, you can also use it to make basic changes to your models so they print better.
First, make sure that your model is oriented correctly. Go into Rotate mode by pressing the ‘rotate’ button at the lower right hand side of ReplicatorG. You can make adjustments in any mode by clicking and holding the model and then moving the mouse, but it can be easier to just use the buttons. Rotate mode’s buttons will rotate your model by 90 degrees in x, y, or z. Use them to make sure that the model’s flattest side is on the bottom and also to avoid overhangs.
Next, make sure the model is resting on the surface of the platform, not suspended in air or below the platform. Go ahead and click the “move” button, followed by “put on platform.” You can also use this opportunity to center your object, by pressing the button labeled “center.”
Once your model is in the right position, you might want to make it larger or smaller. To do that, click the ‘scale’ button. If you know exactly how you want to change the size, put the multiplier in the box and click “scale.” 0.5 will halve the size of the model, and 2.0 will double it.
Once your model is in position and ready to go, you’ll need to slice it.
Slicing is the process of breaking down your design into a set of movements for your Wanhao 3D printer to make. These instructions are called GCode, and they tell the printer exactly where to move the extruder in order to build your item up layer by layer. ReplicatorG’s main job is to take your 3D models and turn them into this set of step-by-step instructions. To get started, click the “Generate GCode” button.
Before you generate GCode, make sure your GCode generator — found in the GCode menu — is set to the most recent version.
The first thing you’ll want to do here is select the proper Base Profile for your printer. Start off with the default profile that best matches your Wanhao 3D printer (Replicator).
You can also choose to “Use Raft/Support” which prints a thick base underneath your print, which can later be broken off. Rafts can help with tall, thin prints that may have trouble sticking to the build platform. Support material is a thin webbing of plastic to help prints with extreme overhangs. We won’t use these for now, but don’t forget about them.
For now you’ll want to “use machine-specific start/end GCode” and “use Print-O-Matic” so that your printer will run at its default settings. You may notice that the menu that appears when you choose to use Print-O-Matic shows a number of interesting options. Print-O-Matic is a great way to change the infill, layer height, and speed of your prints.
Once you’re happy with your settings, simply hit the Generate GCode button, and let your computer do the heavy lifting.
Now that you’ve got your gcode, there are two ways to get it to your printer. If your computer is connected to the printer, you can simply click the Build button. That’s the one at the upper left that looks like an arrow pointing to a bean. Your other option is to click on the build to file button (the third button, with the arrow pointing to a sheet of paper) and export the gcode to your SD card as an s3g file. Now just put the SD card into your printer’s SD slot and use the LCD interface to start your print! There’s a 26-character limit on filenames for use with The Duplicator 4 and Duplicator 4X, so if you’re having trouble, just make that filename a bit shorter.
And remember, if you change your mind and want to print something else, you can always press the centre button and use the arrows to navigate to a cancellation.