THE ULTIMATE BEGINNERS GUIDE TO 3D PRINTING
In the Advanced world of 3D printing, one can be easily confused as to what options are the best for beginners to try their hands on. The variety in the kinds of 3D printers and the material that goes into it for creating exceptional 3D models and object is so vast and full of options that it gets a handful job for a beginner to pick the right thing. To make things convenient for you, we are here to present the breakdown of what 3D printing is like and how you can go about it efficiently. This article will serve as a stepping stone in your journey of 3D printing.
Beginners guide to 3d printing
Choice of Printer
First things first, you need to decide which printer is the right choice for you. Your needs and expectations from any 3D printer depend heavily on whether you are going to use it as a hobbyist or as a business benefactor. If you are getting into this art because of your passion for it, then we should suggest you printers that are not too hard on the pocket to buy and will give you a satisfactory result. Most of the hobbyists use FDM printers which are Fuel Deposition Model printers. They create a relatively thin layer of filament (material) to create the object and it is cheap as well. In case of using it for your business, you would need a powerful printer which has relatively more number of features and is assembled as well. These printers lie in the category of SLI printers which stands for Stereo Lithography printers. Although SLI printers are expensive, they produce high-quality prints. These printers use a laser or projector to harden the resin, and that’s how it prints your 3D model. For hobbyists, best printers are the “Creality Series”, “FlashFirge”, “TierTime”, and “SeemeCNC Rostock series”. Whereas, for business beginners, “ Pulse”, “Ultimaker”, “LulzBot”, “CraftBot”, and “SeemeCNC” are the best options.
Choice of Filament
Next thing you need to learn about 3D printing is what are filaments and how are they used? So, the filament is the real material that is melted through the printer to create objects. Hence you can say that it is the most primary requisition for 3D printing. Filaments come in the form of a spool weighing 1Kg with a diameter of 1.75mm. It is attached to the nozzle of the printer where it is heated on high temperatures to melt it and form objects. One can use many types of filaments but the most frequently used are PLA and ABS. PLA comes in a variety of colours and is relatively affordable. As it is less stringy and sticky than ABS, it is easier to use as well. PLA is also less toxic than other types of filaments; however, it is comparatively less durable than ABS as it is malleable. Other filaments you can find in the market include nylon, carbon fibre, TPU, wood, metal, and glow-in-the-dark. You can customize your objects by using any of these filaments to give a realistic look to your object.
First Model Print
Now, the most vital question is, “what do you want to print?” Experts suggest it is best to print the mainstream 3D models on your printer if you’re not used to the setting yet. Multiple websites like “Thingiverse.com” and “myminifactory.com” present you with ample of options to print. These websites feature the “ready-to-print” models that you can print and get the hang of your printer settings. This practice will not only help you fix your printer settings but will also help you compare your printed object with others through the abundant tutorials present on the web. This way you can comprehend what went wrong with your print. But there’s one thing you must not forget! The first few models you print will not turn out perfect. You will have to take your time to get used to this magical machine.
Next on our list is the “Slicing Software”. This software is where you set all the settings for your printer. It commands your printer to print your object in a certain manner. You can set the dimensions, colours, temperatures, etc. for your printer. Some popular slicing software includes “MakerWare”, “Cura”, and “Simplify 3D”.
3D Printing Model
Coming to the process of how 3D printing works! So you either create 3D Computer-Aided Model or you can get free ones from online forums as we have mentioned earlier. You then export that model as a “.STL” file into the slicing software where you set all the settings for your print. Consequently, slicer generates a “.G-code” file which is sent to the printer. The filament attached to the extruder is then extruded according to the command and your 3D object comes to life!
Now let’s focus our attention on “extruders”. There are two types of extruders, one is single and the other one is dual. Most of the printers come with a single extruder and they only extrude one type of filament. This means you can only have one colour and material coming out of the extruder at a type of using a single extruder. On the other hand, dual extruders can print two different types of materials or filaments at one time. This enhances productivity as well as creativity for printing 3D objects.
Once the printer starts extruding the filament, it sets on your printer's heated bed. Here it is important to note that your adhesion settings in the slicer software must be set appropriately to keep your object adhered to the bed. These beds are categorized as glass beds and printer’s tape beds. Glass beds are less durable and sturdy than printer’s tape beds because once you scratch the bed for removing your object, the entire glass bed becomes useless and you have to change it which incurs an additional cost. On the contrary, painter’s tape beds are not as vulnerable to scratches and are definitely durable.
Conclusively, these factors must be kept in mind when getting into 3D printing as it will save you the trouble of wasting your material as well as your time.