The main method we use to print on Gigabot printers is via gcode saved to a microSD card. Here are some tips and tricks to managing your gcode files and saving them properly to have a smooth printing experience.
Tip 1: Clear old gcode files off the SD card
Before saving a new gcode file to an SD card, it's best to take a moment to delete any old gcode files off the card. When gcode files accumulate on the SD card, they can slow down the Viki menu navigation. It also increases the likelihood that the wrong file is selected for printing, especially when the SD card is passed between multiple people, and the person who started the print is not necessarily the person who sliced it.
Tip 2: Give descriptive names to gcode files
Vague file names can cause confusion, or may necessitate opening the gcode file in a text editor or in a slicer to find out more information about it. If the file is saved with a name with relevant information, it can speed up the printing workflow. Examples of useful information to include in a gcode file name are:
- Name of the print - this can include identifiers such as part numbers.
- Trial number: this can distinguish between different versions of the same print, perhaps for different design revisions or print setting changes
- Print material and extruder side - this information is important for whoever sets up the Gigabot for printing, which may not be the same person who sliced the gcode file. For example, PLA L PETG R indicates that PLA should be loaded into the left extruder, and PETG should be loaded into the right extruder. This can prevent common errors such as loading the incorrect material or loading it into the incorrect extruder.
- Print time - this can help with scheduling prints to maximize printer utilization. A print labeled with "3h", or 3 hours, can be started at 1PM and removed from a printer before the end of a workday, but a "16h" print is ideally started at the end of a workday to print overnight. Print time is often estimated in the slicer.
- Material Amount - this helps ensure that the printer is loaded with enough material to finish the print. Amount of material used is often estimated by the slicer.
- Any other important distinguishing information.
In conclusion, good gcode file names can look like:
- Calibration Cylinder Trial 5 PC L 3h 0.9lb
-  Motor Cover Rev6 1.2lb PETG L 0.3lb PLA R
Tip 3: Save gcode files properly to prevent corruption
At re:3D, we have run into issues with gcode files corrupting when a gcode file is saved to a Google Drive file stream by overwriting gcode files of the same name that are already on the Drive. The old file doesn't get correctly overwritten by the new file, resulting in a corrupted file.
The story: I sliced a part on Simplify3D and saved it on Google Drive using the file stream. Then I wanted to revise the slice, so I resliced the part. When I went to Save Toolpaths to Disk, I selected my previous (now outdated) gcode file on the file stream and saved over it, resulting in a corrupted file that later caused a failed print.
- Every time you slice something, give it a new name to save it as a new file.
- If you want to replace an outdated gcode file on the Drive, delete the old file before saving the new one to prevent overwriting.
With these tips & tricks, you can streamline the process of starting a print and prevent many common mistakes that can result in failed prints!