While much of the interface will have a familiar feel for earlier M3D users, there are enough changes and improvements to make a significant difference in how easy it is to use our 3-D printers. Since I do not yet have the Pro, we’ll examine the software using a Micro. We’ll have to examine the features specific to the Pro in a later post.
When using the any M3D software for the first time with a brand new printer, a dialog will pop up reminding users to remove the gantry clips that kept the printer safe during shipping.
|M3D Gantry Check Dialog|
This is the opening or "Library" screen if no models have been previously uploaded.
|M3D Alpha v188.8.131.52 Opening Screen|
- Launch the Add/Remove 3D Ink dialog
- Launch the "Open a new 3D Model" dialog
- Identify the currently selected printer
- Launch the printer selection dialog
- Launch the Settings dialog
- Launch online help
- Search for recent models
- Load recent models into the Print Manger
- Load recently printed model into the Print Manager
- Remove recent models from the Library
- Launch the Print Manager
Launch the Add/Remove 3D Ink dialog
When the "3D Ink" is clicked, the "Manage Filament Page" dialog will pop up that allows us to load or unload filament ("3D Ink").
|M3D Manage Filament Page|
We'll cover filament loading and unloading in a future post.
Launch the "Open a new 3D Model" dialog
When "Open Model" is clicked, a file finder dialog box is opened that shows supported file types.
|M3D - Add Model Dialog|
If there is already a model loaded into the Print Manager, the option to remove it or keep it and add the new model is presented.
From there we leave the Library and are taken to the Print Manager screen.
Identify the currently selected printer
If an M3D printer is attached and selected, its serial number will be displayed along the top of the screen. Otherwise, the message will say, "Not Connected".
For now, all M3D printers must be connected via a USB cable. But, this is expected to change in the future.
Launch the printer selection dialog
The M3D Software allows us to select from multiple M3D printers. If more than one printer is connected to the computer by USB cable, it will show up in the dialog.
|M3D Choose Printer|
In this case, we have 2 orange Micro printers and 1 clear Micro printer from which to choose. Simply click on the printer's image to select it. We rarely have more than one M3D Micro connected to any given computer. But, we expect this to change with the high production performance and offline running capabilities of the new Pro.
Launch the Settings dialog
Clicking on the little gear icon just to the right of the printer identification area launches the Settings dialog.
|M3D Settings Dialog|
The Setting dialog options are far too rich for us to delve into them now. In fact, we will have to break down the options into several posts to cover them with any justice.
We can point out that there is a new tab on this page with the title "Pro/Micro+ Features" that is not accessible unless a Pro or Micro+ is attached. So, the features will have to remain a mystery until we actually have one or the other.
This is the first hint that M3D might be planning a Micro update! This is very intriguing to us because the Micro has become an important part of our strategy for advancing the 3D design skills of our teachers and mentor cadets.
Launch online help
When the Question Mark at the top right of the screen, it takes us to the online M3D site.
|M3D Online Help Site|
Search for recent models
Just above the "Recent Models" and "Recent Prints" tabs there is a "Search" text box that allows us to FILTER recent models or prints in the Library by name or partial name. In this sample we see that we have at least 6 recent models visible.
|M3D Unfiltered Recent Model List|
However, by entering a "Z" in the search text box and hitting RETURN, the visible files are filtered so that only those files beginning in 'Z' are shown.
|M3D Filtered Recent Model List|
Load recent models
Load recently printed model
When we click on a Recent Model or Recent Print image of a model in the Library, that model is loaded into the Print Manager. We then leave the Library and move into the Print Manager.
This is where new features begin to show themselves.
|M3D Print Manager|
Remove recent models from the Library
There is a feature that is not obvious that allows us to remove a model from either of the "Recent" shelves. When we click on a model and hold down the left mouse button AND DRAG THE MOUSE a trashcan will appear at the bottom right of the screen. If we continue to drag the model to the trashcan it is removed from the library.
Launch the Print Manager
We can open the Print Manager at ant time by simply clicking on the printer image to the left of the library tabs.
The real changes to the M3D Printer Software in this new release become obvious when we leave the Library Screen. But, this is the launching place for all the new features so it is important to understand all that is available on this screen.
We move next to the Print Manager.