I’ve finally gotten the printer to play nice. The key to this is in the software that you use to ‘slice’ the 3D diagram. This is very specific to the printer and manufacturer. It is immensely important that you follow the directions for setup. In my case I’m using Ultimaker Cura. Knowing next to nothing about 3D modeling software this is just what came with the system, do yourself a favor and go find the latest version, it did not ship with it guaranteed. This Cura software is open source and seems to be well developed so I’m rather happy with it. I still need to find some tutorials to learn to use it, for the most part I’m just finding stuff to print but the goal is to be able to create stuff to give back to the community as well as print stuff I need.
My particular printer can hook up to a computer but recommends putting the file on a SD card and sneaker netting it over to the printer. I’m honestly fine with this for the most part but it does bring up an interesting observation. Everything that happens after you push the print button on the unit is defined in this file, print temperature, bed temperature, flow rate, X, Y, Z positions… EVERYTHING. This should reaffirm the first paragraph in that you mush have the software setup properly so that it has all the settings that your printer has. Just do it!
So let’s look at file types. When you’re hunting print objects, you will find them (mostly) as .STL files (stereolithography). STL has several acronyms such as “Standard Triangle Language” and “Standard Tessellation Language”. This file will be opened with the above mentioned software and then converted (sliced) to a *.gcode file that is specific to your printer. This is the file you select to print.