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Can You 3D Print Using a Chromebook?

You’ve probably heard about the rise of 3D printing. It’s been around for decades, but it has recently become more accessible and affordable to everyday consumers like you and me. That said, one of the most common questions most beginners ask is if they can 3D print using a Chromebook.

You can 3D print using a Chromebook. To do that, you must first install slicing software on your computer. The software will take the object you want to print and turn it into a file suitable for 3D printing.

Simply put, 3D printing may not be as expensive as most think, especially if you’re working on small DIY projects. Read on for the steps to follow when 3D printing using a Chromebook.

How to 3D Print Using a Chromebook

To 3D print using a Chromebook, you need to gather the materials and then follow the steps required, which we’ll cover below.

Here are the materials you’ll need:

  • 3D Printer
  • Chromebook with slicing software installed
  • Internet connection
  • FTP software
  • The file/ image of the object you need to print

Here are the steps that you’ll need to follow to 3D print using a Chromebook:

  1. Connect the Printer and Chromebook to the Same WiFi Network

Connect your 3D printer to the same WiFi network as your Chromebook. To do so, follow the instructions that came with your printer.

On the other hand, connect your Chromebook to WiFi by pressing the WiFi icon located in your taskbar and connect to your network.

  1. Go to a 3D File Marketplace To Find What You Want To Print

To get started, locate an online file marketplace where you can find several models and materials that can be printed using a 3D printer.

Some of these platforms include Shapeways, Sculpteo, and Materialise. In this case, search for a small object like a keychain or bottle opener to begin with.

  1. Download the File

Download the file using your PC. Remember that files are generally in STL (Stereolithography) format, which is the most common and accepted file format used by most printers today. Not sure how to download a file from a website?

No problem. A lot of online platforms let you commence the printing process right after your purchase. The only thing left for you is to wait until the file finishes downloading.

  1. Open Another Browser and Type in the Printer’s IP Address

Access your 3D printer’s software by opening another browser on your Chromebook, typing in its unique IP address (if you don’t know what that is, look it up using Google), and then changing the port to 8080 (or any other custom port).

Upload the downloaded STL file into this software using an FTP client like FileZilla or Cyberduck.

  1. Upload the File to the Printer’s Software

Once you’re done uploading, wait for a few minutes until your 3D print is complete. It would help to leave your 3D printer alone until it completes its task. By doing that, you avoid damaging it or any of its components by forcing it to move while printing.

After several minutes, access your 3d printer through a web browser again and follow instructions on how to retrieve your finished product from the machine.

For a clearer demonstration of what to do in each step, I recommend that you watch this video:

Here are some suggestions regarding what kind of files can be printed using a Chromebook:

  • Smaller objects like keychains or bottle openers. These can use less material (in most cases around 50-100 g of PLA).
  • More complex objects like pens or watches. These often require several hours of processing and need a lot more material (a gigabyte or several even).

In a nutshell, it’s easy to 3D print using a Chromebook. It just takes time to get the hang of it.

Use these steps as guidelines when starting, but don’t be afraid to experiment. And in no time, you’ll become familiar with this process.

Tips for 3D Printing Using a Chromebook

Here are some helpful tips that you can use when 3D printing using a Chromebook.

Use the Highest Setting on Your Printer To Get Better Results

If your model has support structures, make sure that they’re fully printed before removing them from the print bed and, more importantly, file away any rough or visible edges with sandpaper/apron sponge/shim stock while they’re still in place.

Doing so will ensure a smoother finish and appearance of the finished product.

Clean the Print Bed

Some things can happen while printing that result in droplets of plastic building up on your print bed. It can get messy if not checked. The best way to clean it is with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs/rags (Q-tips).  

Spray a little bit of alcohol on it, then wipe with your swab or rag. You’ll see the excess plastic build-up being wiped away, leaving a shiny clean surface for your next print job.

Make Sure There Aren’t Any Clogs Inside Your Machine

If you’re having trouble extruding, try checking inside your machine to ensure that there isn’t something blocking the nozzle.

Remove any filament at the extruder head and use a flashlight to see inside. 

Clean the Nozzle

If it’s still not working, then you may need to clean out the inside of your extruder head or nozzle. This is a bit trickier than checking for clogs because you need to remove the filament from your extruder and keep turning it off as you pull your filament out so that molten plastic doesn’t happen on the outside.

As soon as all of the plastic is removed, stick a toothpick or metal skewer into your extruder and slowly turn it on (if nothing is blocking it). The plastic should come out in one long string.

If it doesn’t, try again until it does.

Then repeat these steps until no more excess comes out. After a few tries, your printer should be back to normal.

Final Thoughts

3D printing is an exciting new technology that has the potential to change everything from manufacturing and design to how we share ideas. If you’re already using a Chromebook as your primary computer for work or play, then it makes sense to take advantage of this emerging trend by installing slicing software on your machine so you can get in on the fun too.

For the best results, I recommend that you read your printer’s user manual and watch a few tutorials on YouTube or other platforms to get the drift of how to do it.