Friday, August 7, 2020

3D Printing Basics

Since there's been a lot of interest in 3D printing I figured I'd give a some basic information about finding files, doing your own design work, and slicing the files for printing. 3D printer files are .stl files that are then put through a slicer that generates g-code. Once you give the g-code to your printer, it prints the object.

If you have no interest in learning design, go to thingiverse ( ). There are a lot of 3D printables for model horses and dollhouse miniatures already there and files are free. Just make sure to watch the creative commons attributes, don't sell something that has a noncommercial use attribute and don't take credit for something that isn't you work *rant over*.

If you want to design your own stuff, you will need to select a Computer Aided Design (CAD) software or a modeling softeware. Modeling software is more like sculpting on your computer. I have very limited modeling software experience, so I'll focus on CAD which is what I use. CAD has been around for a while and it's a really good skill to have. There are a lot of great careers that use it; engineers, drafters, and technicians to name a few.

A great place to start working in 3D is tinkercad ( ) which allows you to use basic shapes to build objects. This is a browser based CAD you won't have to download it to your computer and you can signup with your google account. You can download your files as .stl and print them easily. But it is very limiting if you want to design complex items.

I started with tinkercad and a lot of my designs are from tinkercad files. Don't knock it till you try it!

What I use now is Fusion 360 ( ). Last I checked, if you are a hobby user you can get it free.

There are a lot of free CAD softwares or modeling softwares, if neither of these strike your fancy, google it. Find the one that works best for you.

Once you have your files, you need a slicer. I've used Cura ( ) for a long time and it works relatively well. You just have to set it up with what printer you have and tinker a bit with the settings. Choose printing temps, bed temps, infill density, supports, and a lot more.

If you are just starting out, download some calibration and torture tests off thingiverse to get your printer dialed in. Benchys and Calicats are my favorite.

1 comment:

  1. Right now I am using Tinkercad to design my stuff but I will defiantly look into the other designing softwares too.