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Use the 3D printers

Innovative Media staff

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Eric Johnson
Cabell Library, Lower Level Room 078

901 Park Ave., Box 842033
Richmond, VA 23284-2033

(804) 828-2802

Innovative Media staff

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Ken Hopson
James Branch Cabell Library
901 Park Ave
Richmond, VA 23284

Lulzbot TAZ 5 Specifications

  • Prints with 3mm (2.85mm) filament in a wide array of materials: ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, wood filled filaments, Polyester (Tritan), PETT, bronze and copper filled filaments, Polycarbonate, Nylon, PETG, conductive PLA and ABS, UV luminescent filaments, PCTPE, PC-ABS, Alloy 910, and more every day.
  • Maximum build size: 11.7in x 10.8in x 9.8in (approximately the size of a human head)
  • Highest resolution: 75 microns [0.003 inches]
  • Unassisted leveling of the build plate
  • Primarily uses Cura processing software, capable of processing STL / OBJ / DAE / AMF files from SD card or through direct computer connection. Other softwares are possible as well.

More information on the Lulzbot TAZ 5 printer.

Getting Started: Unloading and Loading Filament


Unload Filament

Unload the previous user's filament to select your own color/type.

1 Preheat the extruder: Press the silver knob, select Temperature > choose material that is currently loaded
2 Once the head is heated, open latch by pushing up on idler screws (round knobs) to open filament feed hole
3 Pull out filament from extruder
4 Push existing filament back through translucent feeder tube, reroll onto spool


Load Filament

Now, load the filament you want to use.

1 Make your filament selection from what is available
2 Clip off the melted end of filament using wire clippers. This helps to prevent the filament from jamming the extruder.
3 Place the spool of filament on the filament arm on the side of the printer with the filament feeding counterclockwise.

Preheat extruder to temperature of filament you want to load (if not already preheated) - Press silver knob, go to Temperature > (select target temp for filament using)

Very important note: if you’re switching to a new type of filament (ex: ABS to PLA) you need to be sure to fully extrude previous filament before loading new filament type.


Feed the end of the filament through the guide tube.


Open latch if not already open: pull upward on idler screws and release


Insert end of filament into extruder, slowly pushing filament through extruder. When filament has gone through, it will begin to leak from the nozzle.


Once the filament extrudes the correct color out of the nozzle, close the latch by raising the idler and sliding the two idler bolts and plate back into place to lock the filament.

Bed Leveling


Bed Leveling

Bed leveling does not need to be done before every print. If the print before yours was successful, the bed probably does not need to be leveled. Consult the Makerspace attendant if you are unsure about bed leveling.

1 Slide a piece of paper underneath the nozzle, adjust the Z axis end stop and home the Z axis until the tip of the nozzle applies firm pressure on the paper. You should be able to slowly pull the sheet of paper with only slight resistance.
2 Move the nozzle tip to the far right side of the X axis by using the +X 100 button. As X-axis carriage approaches the end of the Y-axis, use the +X 10 button and the +X1 button until the tip of the nozzle is near the front right corner of the bed.
3 Slide the same piece of paper under the nozzle and home the Z axis. Adjust the bed corner’s bed leveling screws so that the tension felt when moving the paper under the nozzle matches the tension felt previously. To raise or lower the front right corner of the bed, adjust only the screw with the spring. Turn the screw clockwise to lower the bed, decreasing the tension felt when moving the paper. Turn the screw counterclockwise (raising the corner) to increase the tension felt when moving the paper under the nozzle. Once adjusted, press the +Z 10 button to raise the Z axis.
4 Repeat the same process, first raising the Z axis, then using the +Y button to move the heated bed to place the nozzle on the rear right corner of the bed. Adjust the height of the bed using the same procedure as outlined above. Finally, raise the Z axis and move the X axis carriage over to the rear left corner of the bed and perform the same leveling procedure to adjust the last corner.


Successful first layer
Build plate too close to nozzle
Build plate too far from nozzle

Preparing to Print


Preparing a 3D Model in Cura 15.04.6

These instructions are specific to the 15.04.6 version, not Cura 2 or 3

1 Open Cura 15.04.6 software
2 Go to Machine > Lulzbot Taz
3 Go to File > Open Profile > Desktop > Cura 15 Lulzbot Profiles
4 Select filament type and resolution of print
5 File → Load model file (or drag it in) (For info on finding models, see 3D Printing Resources)
6 Select your object by clicking on it
7 Use right mouse button to rotate, use scroll button to move plate

Adjust model using tools on the right:

  • Rotate - drag rings on object or use button to lay object flat
  • Mirror - mirror model using arrowheads
  • Scale - change size of the object
9 If you want supports or platform adhesion, select in sidebar on left (For info on supports and adhesion, see Print Settings)
10 To view the result of the settings, go to View Mode (button top right) and select Layers
11 Print times and sizes in top left corner
12 When satisfied with settings, insert SD card into card reader connected to computer and click “Toolpath to SD” (SD card button) in top left corner
13 Hit eject and load SD card into computer
14 Continue to Printing section of guide
15 Don’t forget to preheat the printer before starting print!


Print Settings

Remember that 3D printing is itself a kind of experiment. Choose options that you think will work best for your model.

Common elements to adjust in your object include: layer thickness, infill density, shell thickness, raft and supports.

Make sure to load a Lulzbot profile for the appropriate material and quality
Adjusts the height of each printed layer. Increasing the layer height will result in faster print times but visibly thicker layer heights. Layer height is also referred to as resolution or print quality. Smaller layer heights results in higher resolution/quality, but longer prints.

Adjusts the density of the infill on the inside of the print. If the top of the model is collapsing during a print or the model feels too brittle, increasing the infill density may help. Increasing the density will increase print time. A standard print infill is 20% - you should never go above 60%.

The number of outermost layers of the printer model. Increasing the number of shells creates thicker stronger walls, but slower prints. 2 shells is normal.

Elements of the print that overhang more than 45 degrees need supports to hold it up during the printing process. Below - the Y does not need supports, while the H and T do.

Rafts help models adhere to the build surface and help create an even first layer. Printing without rafts can cause models to curl up and/or become dislodged from the build plate during printing. Most prints on the Makerbot should use a raft.




1 Put SD card into card reader, plugged into computer
2 In the top left corner, select “Save toolpath” to save the print file to SD card
3 Connect SD card to printer on left side of the screen
4 Printer must be preheated before starting print! Make sure you have followed directions above for preheating before print
5 Press silver knob, select Print from SD > Select file for printing
6 Print will start automatically


Removing the Print

After your first print has finished, you need to wait for the part to cool down. Your parts will be easier to remove if you allow your heated bed to cool down to optimal temperature. This will allow the plastic to contract, making it easier to remove.

Once your heated bed as cooled, use the blue handled knife show in the photo to remove the item. Carefully insert the blade of the knife between your print and heated bed. Once underneath the part rotate the blade lifting with the sharp edge into the part, to gently pop the piece off your plate.


3D Printing Resources

  • - The most widely used 3D model repository in the Maker and 3D printing enthusiast community. Dedicated to sharing user-created digital design files under the GNU General Public License or Creative Commons License.
  • - offers a large range of downloadable 3D printable objects. Each object has been test printed and comes with a how-to section that explains how to achieve the best print.
  • - a 3D printing Wiki with designs and steps to build different kinds of 3D printers
  • - A search engine of available 3D printable files.
  • NASA - NASA offers a variety of 3D Models




Extruder is too close, it’s burning the bed:

1 Stop the print immediately and notify a Makerspace worker. The print bed may need to be levelled properly.
2 Check your Cura settings, make sure you’re using the recommended print profile for your project.

Extruder is jammed. Filament will not load or extrude correctly:

1 Unload and reload filament.
2 Sometimes it’s just a matter of applying gentle downward pressure to the filament strand until you feel it ‘click’ into place. The filament may be caught inside the extruder and need to be properly aligned. Needle-nose pliers are helpful in this regard.
3 Make sure to preheat the nozzle to the temperature of filament that is currently loaded. For example, if ABS is currently loaded and you want to use PLA, preheat to ABS and load your PLA selection using the ABS temperature setting. Be sure to extrude all remaining ABS, then drop the temperature down to the PLA setting. ABS filament melts at a higher temperature than PLA, and will cause a filament jam if any remains in the extruder.


Need more help?

Ask our Makerspace attendant or check out the LinkedIn Learning tutorial Learning to Use 3D Printers.