Plenty of 3D printers today need access to an SD card. If you change to a new computer that doesn’t use one, you’ll need to know all your options. Luckily, you have plenty of methods to choose from!
Here are a few ways you can 3D print without an SD card:
- Save the file to a USB stick.
- Use a USB to Micro-USB cable.
- Connect to the 3D printer over Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
- Use your phone or tablet.
- Try slicer software with Bluetooth.
So, if you don’t have access to an SD card right now, don’t worry! You still have plenty of options to create your 3D print. If you want to learn more, keep reading for everything you need to know to get the job done in this article.
1. Save the File to a USB-Stick
One of the easiest methods for printing is to use a USB stick (also known as a USB or flash drive). These sticks save your data, allow your printer to make the object, and are very commonplace—you may already have one at home! A USB stick functions precisely like an SD card; it looks slightly different.
Plenty of 3D printers today already come with the ability to access code from a USB drive. You may need to format your old USB drive before printing from it. The SanDisk 16GB Cruzer Fit from Amazon.com is compatible with most 3D printers, won’t corrupt your files, and is highly portable. I recommend it if you’re looking for a new USB stick.
To format the USB drive, you’ll need to put it in your computer and find the drive. Then, right-click in the file window and open the “Properties” menu. You should tell what format the drive is in from that menu.
This short YouTube video explains the entire formatting process in detail for you:
2. Use a USB to Micro-USB Cable
You can connect the 3D printer to your PC through a USB to micro-USB cable (or USB to USB, depending on the printer and computer). This method allows you to open and print the files directly from your device.
If you want to use this method, you can follow these steps:
- Make sure the printer is off before plugging in the cable.
- Connect the micro-USB end to the printer.
- Connect the USB end to your PC.
- Turn on the printer.
- A window should appear and ask what file you want to print.
- Ensure the settings are correct.
- Ensure the printer has enough materials.
- Select the file you wish to print!
This process is straightforward if you have the correct cable. However, some Macs don’t have USB ports, making this option impossible to use with some PCs. You’ll want to check if you have ports for the connection before buying a new cable.
You may also need to add new drivers or software to your devices to complete printing using this method. This video covers everything that you’ll need to know:
3. Connect to the 3D Printer Over Wi-Fi or Ethernet
You can connect your computer to the printer through Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Many people prefer this method to have control during the print since SD cards won’t let you interact with the printer via your PC.
Many quality 3D printers today already have Wi-Fi connectivity. If your printer doesn’t have this feature, you can use hardware to add it! Connect your 3D printer to your router using an Ethernet cable if it has the ports for one.
You can also use a USB server device, which connects the printer to Wi-Fi. This option is the best if you want a completely wireless connection.
In short, there are ways for your computer to access the printer over Wi-Fi. It helps to look over the manual that came with your 3D printer for specifics since all models are a bit different.
4. Use Your Phone or Tablet
Using your smart devices also allows you to skip the SD card. You can connect your device to the printer using a USB cable. Most of the time, your standard phone charging cable should have the right ends to connect to both your phone and the printer.
Some new 3D printers even come with apps, allowing you to access the printing information in real-time! With an app, you won’t need to bother with any extra cables.
5. Try Slicer Software With Bluetooth
If you have devices that can use Bluetooth, you might also connect to the printer that way. You should check that your 3D printer has Bluetooth capabilities before you start.
Use the screen on the printer to set it up into pairing mode. Then, turn Bluetooth On on your device and open the Bluetooth menu. Pair your device with the printer, then select the objects you want to print through your 3D printing software on the device.
This method requires a stable connection, so you won’t want to wander too far away from the printer. Your print could stop or stall if you do, leading to issues.
When To Print Without an SD Card
Many people choose to use an SD card when they print. The biggest pro is that you won’t have to worry about the printer losing connection to your device—it has all the information it needs right there! That doesn’t mean you’ll always have access to one, though.
If you lost your SD card or it corrupted, these other methods can work well in a pinch. With a wireless connection, you won’t need to be present to check on the printer either. Many people use these methods to make something that could take several hours to finish.
Overall, it’s good to know that printing without an SD card is still possible! You may even find you prefer one of these methods over using an SD card.
In short, there are plenty of ways that you can 3D print all of your creations without ever touching an SD card. While SD cards have plenty of benefits, you may not always have access to one when you need it.
Consider which option is the most convenient and go for it. If it doesn’t work, there are plenty of other options that you can try, so don’t give up!
The easiest method is directly connecting from the 3D printer to the computer. However, you’ll need to have a reliable connection and know that the computer won’t go into sleep mode first.
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I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.