One of the most popular file types for 3D models are STL files and there are a lot of them that can be downloaded for free online, but to be able to 3D print them you’ll need to convert them into G-codes.
To convert an STL file into a G-code, download an STL file then choose a slicer software like Cura. Import that STL file into your slicer and make model adjustments on the build plate. After making adjustments, put in your print settings then slice the model to generate the G-Code, which you can save to an SD card.
Keep reading for more information on how to convert STL files into G-codes.
How to Convert STL Files to G-Code Files for Ender 3
These are the main steps in order to convert STL files into G-codes:
- Download STL file
- Choose a slicer software
- Import STL file into slicer
- Adjust model placement, size and orientation
- Configure printing settings
- Slice model to generate G-code
1. Download STL File
Many users recommend going to Thingiverse as it is the biggest website of its kind and most models over there are completely free.
2. Choose a Slicer Software
The next step in order to convert an STL file into a G-code is choosing your slicer software.
Slicers are software programs that will take a 3D model and convert it into a series of layers that the 3D printer can understand and print – which is the G-code file.
There are several slicer software options to choose from, including Cura and PrusaSlicer. These programs will let you convert STL files into G-code instructions that your 3D printer can read and print.
One user recommends Cura as there are a lot of tutorials on YouTube and the software is free. He stated that even being new to 3D printing, he was able to navigate the slicer without a problem.
Another user also stated that Cura is his go-to slicer software to convert STLs into G-code files as it is free and very user-friendly. I choose to use Cura as well since it’s what I started with and am used to.
Check out the video below for a detailed comparison between slicer software for 3D printing.
3. Import STL File Into Slicer
Once you have selected your slicer software, you can import the STL file into the program. On Cura, this can be done by selecting “File” and then “Open” from the menu. You can also drag the file into Cura from your File Explorer folder.
4. Adjust Model Placement, Size and Orientation
After importing the STL file, you can adjust the model’s placement, size, and orientation within the slicer software to your desire.
This includes adjusting the position of the model on the print bed, scaling it to fit the desired size, and rotating it to get a better surface finish and reduce how many supports are needed.
When using Cura, just click the model and you’ll be able to access move, scale, rotate and mirror on the sidebar on the left of the screen. Proper adjustment of these settings can also help to reduce print time and filament usage while ensuring a successful print.
Check out the video below for more information about how to position parts for 3D printing.
5. Configure Printing Settings
After the model is properly placed and oriented, you can configure the printing settings to achieve the desired print quality and ensure successful printing. This includes setting settings such as layer height, print speed, infill percentage, and support structures.
On Cura, you’ll be able to adjust your printing settings from the box named “Printing Settings” on the right side of the screen.
The optimal printing settings will depend on factors such as the material being used, the desired print quality, and the specific capabilities of your 3D printer. One user recommends starting slow with a nozzle temperature of 200°C for PLA and a print speed of 40-60mm.
He also suggests beginning with these settings as a base and printing a test object to determine if you need to make any other adjustments.
Another user stated that the best printing settings would depend on the filament, the printer, and even the environment where it is being printed on. Filaments usually have their recommended temperature ranges on the packaging so you can use that as a good starting point.
If you’re using Cura, I wrote an article called Best Cura Settings for Your 3D Printer – Ender 3 & More that can be helpful when configuring printing settings.
Check out the video below for more information about how to configure the perfect printing settings.
6. Slice Model to Generate G-Code
Once you have configured your settings, you can generate the G-code by clicking the “Slice” button in your software.
The slicer software will then analyze your STL file and create a G-code that your printer can use to create your print. After generating the G-code, you can save it to disk or directly to your removable drive.
One user recommends saving the G-codes for prints that came out perfect if you want to create more of those models.
Check out the video below for detailed information on how to convert STL files to G-code.