Previewing .STL Files in Windows Explorer

So you have been into 3d printing for a while and have a giant collection of 1000’s of .stl files saved on your computer and you have no way of easily viewing previews. Looking for a way to be able to view your files as soon as you open up your STL folder?

Here’s a program developed by cabbagecreek way to be able to preview a thumbnail of your stereolithography files.

Download options

From the website:

Marlin3dPrinterTool is a open-source software that helps you configure and test your 3D printer. The software contains some components that are not free and leave some demo and watermarks. The Software is ditributed with “beerware license” as in “free as in beer” and all donations will be used to pay for the components.
The software is under development and some features ar not fully tested on all types of 3D printers. The code is tested on:

– BigBox Pro
-Rigidbot Big
-RapideLite 200

The main features are:
-Endstop testing
-Bed limit and bed abjusters position
– Z-probe configuration
– Bed Level Tool
-Scan building surface and create visual chart
-Z-rod maintenance
-Auto PID calibration
– Extruder calibration
-Firmware upgrade and migration
-STL thumbnails in Windows File Explorer

More information,tutorials, YouTube-videos and documentation can be found at

M1.Download the program off one of the links provided.

2.Click on the .msi file to start the installation

Options when installing Marlin3Dprintertool
Options when installing Marlin3Dprintertool

3. When prompted with the option, you can select to install the FileExplorer STL Thumbnail Extension or to install the Marlin3DPrinter Tool. This guide will only focus on the extension.

4. Once installation is done, open the STL Configuration link that just appeared in the Start tool bar.

Installing FileExplorer STL Thumbnail Extension
Installing FileExplorer STL Thumbnail Extension

5. Click on install and register STL thumbnail

You might have to restart File explorer on you are done, the configurator allows you to do it automatically.

You also have the option to set the viewer as default and to change the STL preview color .

.stl preview
.stl preview

Thats it, You are now able to preview .stl files in Windows Explorer!

Easily preview stereolithography files
Easily preview stereolithography files

Printer bed leveling

Having a level build platform is crucial to successful prints. This allows the first layer to be applied evenly and properly adhere to the build plate. having the nozzle too far from the build plate can cause the print to warp or even dislodge while printing. If your nozzle is too close to the build surface, the filament will be squished against the bed and this could either jam the extruder nozzle or complicate the print removal process.

First off; when leveling the build platform you will have to heat the bed to it’s printing temperature. The thickness of an aluminum bed will vary greatly depending at what temperature it is in. To level your bed properly, the same temperature at the time of printing is needed.

Place a sheet of paper on the platform, you will want the nozzle to touch the paper and still be able to move it freely with a bit of drag.

Move the extruder to each corner of the platform making sure that the amount of drag is constant on each corner, adjust the screws on the corners accordingly.

The center part of the build plate is the most important to have leveled properly as this is the location where you will most often be printing at.

Make sure to double check all positions once you are done leveling all four corners.

Perform this routine every time a physical parameter is changed on the printer, or if the printer is moved to another location. Once you get the hang of it, it will be very quick to level and you will not need to resort to any auto calibration features on your printer.

Print pro tip: Spool Storage

The most efficient method I have found to store my spools is to use Sterilite containers. Place your spools inside with desiccant packets and you are good to go. The gasket mounted inside the lid provides an airtight seal to prevent humidity from getting in and ruining your filaments.

You can fit up to 4 spools side to side
Get yourself a cheap hygrometer on ebay to monitor humidity levels inside the box

Spool Holder with spare parts

Here’s a quick DIY spool holder from leftover printer parts. I understand that you might not already have these parts on hand if this is not the case hope you can get inspired by this and create something similar. The criteria for this mini build was to use parts available on hand and to have a solid one piece spool holder. (Although I had to order proper length bolts for the v slot wheels)

Total build price: Under 25$

What you’ll need:

2x 2040 Extrusion cut to 230 mm
1x 2040 Extrusion cut to 70mm
4 x V slot wheels or 625zz bearings
12 x 5mm T nuts
4 x 5mm x 15mm hex bolts
8 x 5mm x 8mm hex bolts
4 x Extrusion corner brackets (STL)
4 x 5mm washers
4 x 2040 Endcaps (STL)

Quieter heatsink fan : Noctua 40x10mm A-Series Blades with AAO Frame, SSO2 Bearing Premium Retail Cooling Fan (NF-A4x10)

Stock fans can be pretty noisy especially if your printer is set up to operate inside your house. One easy modification that you can do to quiet down your printer is to swap your heat sink fan with a quieter one.

Noctua fans are quite popular in PC builder communities and have been recognized to run quietly. This will be a major improvement to the cheap fan included in most printer kits as they are also designed in a way that they increase airflow.

Depending on your situation you might want to find a fan that either is the same size or bigger than your current one. If you want a bigger fan you might have to print a new shroud or fit an adapter at the existing mounting location.

Now if you are using a Noctua fan, chances are that you will either have 3 or 4 wires coming out of it. The three wires are for PWM control (Pulse Width Modulation), this usually allows your fan speed to be switched on and off and the RPMs can be controlled by computer. The fourth wire is usually for tach feedback (speed reference). This article will not get into more detail since we will not be using these features. We simply want to use the fan for constant cooling on the printer heat sink.

On a 3 wire fan, wire the red to positive and black to negative. The yellow wire is not used.

On a 4 wire fan, make sure to only connect the yellow to positive and the black to negative. In this configuration, the fan will run as long as there is 12v applied to it. Wiring the fan otherwise can cause it to fail.

Project cost: 20$
Tools Used:

Phillips screwdriver
Wire cutters
Crimping tool
Molex connectors
Noctua (NF-A4x10)

Replacing the fan on a E3D Titan Aero heat sink was pretty straightforward since it hadn’t been mounted on the printer yet. The extruder comes prewired with Molex dual connectors for the fan and thermistor cartridge so the Noctua fan was fitted with a Molex plug, the unused wires were simply tucked into the cable sleeve and then heat shrink was applied to clean up the install.

This build is planned to have both the heat bed and hot end running on 24v. The remaining electronics will be running off of a separate 12v power supply; the fan included in the extruder kit was rated at 24v.

Noctua 40x10mm mounted to e3d Titan Aero.

Here is another example of a fan upgrade on a Monoprice Select Mini. The stock fan was snipped off and the original cables were used to power the new fan. A connector was then placed at the end of the fan and the mating end was then crimped onto the existing wires. This improvement reduced the noise and increased airflow.

A shroud was printed off of thingiverse to mount the larger fan to the original location.