What is Launchpad?
The Launchpad 3D slicing software is a web-based platform which can easily be accessed through the browser on any Chromebook or internet-connected device. This simple, easy-to-use software has all the essential controls you need for creating 3D printing files.
What is slicing?
During the slicing process, the slicing software will take your 3D CAD model and translate it into a bunch of coordinates, also known as .gcode. G-code is a language that 3D printers use to determine the exact coordinates of where the extruder must travel to print filament.
Please note, slicing is the most critical step of 3D printing. You cannot 3D print something unless it has been sliced for the printer. STL files or other CAD models cannot be read by the printer and will not show up on your control interface if you try to print them.
Adding Your File
Once you have obtained the 3D model you wish to print, you need to upload it to the Launchpad slicing software. To do this, go to www.launchpad.ca and select the 'Upload File' button. Select your desired file from your computer and hit 'Open'. Please note, Launchpad will only accept .STL files, this is the universal file type for 3D models.
Positioning Your Object
By default, after you've uploaded your object it will be placed in the center of the bed. Whenever you’re 3D printing it’s extremely important to make sure your object is correctly oriented on the bed. The correct orientation is placing whatever side has the flattest surface area on the bed. Making sure your object is correctly oriented on the bed will also help to ensure your print has good bed adhesion and does not come unstuck when printing.
To adjust the position of your object you can click and drag to move your object around the bed. To rotate your object, use the 'Rotate' tool and enter in the degrees you would like your object to be rotated and which axis you would like to rotate on.
Selecting Your Device
Next, you'll need to select the 3D printing device you will be using. You can do this by clicking the 'Devices' tab in the top righthand corner of the screen. Selecting the correct device is important because it will determine your bed size.
Changing Your Viewpoint
While working in Launchpad, you can click and drag around the printing bed to change your viewpoint. You can also use pre-determined viewpoints by selecting the 'View' tool and choosing one of the options.
If you wish to print more than one object you can use the 'Duplicate' tool to copy and paste another object.
To increase or decrease the size of your object, use the 'Scale' tool. The default scale value for your original object size will always be 1. To increase or decrease the size of the object, enter a decimal percentage which will be multiplied by 1.
For example, if you wish to decrease the size of your object by half, you would enter in 0.5. Or if you wish to increase the size of your object by double, enter in 2.
It's also important to note that when scaling your object, you will likely want to scale it uniformly. To do this, select the 'Uniform Scaling' checkbox in the pop-up window. If this is not selected, your object will only be scaled on whichever axis you input a decimal percentage for. Doing so will result in your object becoming skewed.
After you scale your object the new default scaling value will become 1. To make a new modification, enter in a new decimal percentage.
Basic Print Settings
On the righthand side of your screen, you will find all of your basic print settings for slicing. These basic settings consist of Supports, Raft, and Print Quality.
Supports are temporary structures that are printed with your object and used to support any bridging or overhangs. Bridging or overhang occurs when part of your object is essentially being printed into mid-air, with nothing underneath it. During the slicing process, you have the option to add any necessary support to your print.
During slicing, you'll also have the option to add in a raft. A raft is a temporary base layer that can be used to increase the bed adhesion of your object. Rafts are useful for objects that only have a small or few touchpoints on the bed.
The last basic setting you may need to adjust is the print quality. The print quality refers to how thick or thin the individual layers are that make up your print. The three options you have to choose from are Fast, Medium and Fine. Choosing the 'Fast' print quality setting will result in a faster print time because the print layers will be slightly thicker. Additionally, the printer extruder will be moving quicker which may result in poorer surface quality. Choosing the 'Fine' print quality, as the name states, will result in a much finer and detailed print surface. The printer extruder will be moving much slower and the individual print layers will be much thinner. The print quality setting is great if you want a high-quality finish, but will ultimately take longer to print. For most prints, you will be fine to leave the print quality setting at 'Medium'.
Advanced Print Settings
Under the Advanced Print Settings tab, you will find all sorts of print settings you can adjust and modify to achieve different print results. We suggest only modifying these settings if you're an advanced 3D printer and understand how each of the settings can affect your print.
However, we suggest all users, regardless of skill level, double-check some important advanced print settings before slicing their object. These are the temperature settings for the corresponding filament you're using. Launchpad will also default to PLA print temperatures. If you're using a different type of filament or another brand of PLA filament (besides InkSmith brand PLA), it's always a good idea to check your print temperature settings.
Previewing Your Object
Once you have adjusted all of the print settings required for your object, you can generate a preview version to view all of the individual layers and tool paths of the print. To do this, select the 'Preview' tool from the main toolbar. Once it's loaded, you'll be able to zoom in and move around the object. Now you'll also be able to see any supports or rafts that you've added. You can also use the Layer slider in the bottom right-hand corner to move through each stage of the printing process.
Printing Your Object
Once you're happy with how your print looks you can 'slice' the object and download your file for printing. To do this, click the green 'Print' button in the top right-hand corner. A pop-up window will appear with some information about the print time, filament used, and file name. You can then click the 'download print' button to download your file.
Please note, your file extension will be dependent on which device you selected during slicing. These file extensions include, .gcode, .hvs, and .hsb. Each of those file types is only compatible with the corresponding 3D printer, and cannot be used on other devices.
You can now load your G-code file onto a USB or SD card and insert it into your 3D printer. Happy printing!
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