3D printing is an exciting world where you can create the objects you heart desires, but where do you start? What printer will meet my requirements? Where do you search for help, when something went wrong? Where to get objects to print?
These are some of the common questions we regularly find. In this post I will try to answer these questions.
Where do you start
Before you buy a 3D printer, you will need to assess yourself:
- How technical are you?
- Some people want to build their own 3D printer, buy a kit and set it up – this requires a lot of electronic know-how.
- Some people want something to just take out of the box and print – requiring the least amount of input and know-how.
- Other people want a printer they can modify to fit to their needs – depending on the changes this can require a lot of know how.
- What do you want to do with the printer?
- If you are only printing stuff for yourself, a cheaper printer might be the way to go.
- When printing for professional projects, a more expensive printer will be required.
- What type of objects and at what size do you want to print?
- The most common 3D printers use the FDM/FFF (Fused Deposition Modeling / Fused Filament Fabrication) technology and print in plastic.
- Other 3D printers make use of SLA (Stereolithography), SLS (selective Laser Sintering). You can find a comparison at SD3D.com
- If you want to print large objects, you will need a larger printer (capable of printing the dimensions you need), or print your object in a few parts that can be assembled.
- If you want to small objects, you might not need a big build envelope.
These questions will start to filter out printers not suited for your purpose.
Something to note is that, once again, you get what you pay for. Buying a cheap printer will work, but the quality, support or something else might not be what you might expect – there is a reason the printer was cheap. Buying a more expensive printer, usually comes with better support, after sale service or sometimes even just very good quality.
Before buying a printer, go look for the reviews – find out what are the issues other people experience with the printer.
How to judge 3D printer?
This is not the only way, and may be very limited.
The company who created the printer, find out more about them. How well are their support? Where should you ask your questions, when they arise? Do they have a community helping each other?
What does other people say about this company?
The Build Envelope is quite important, how large is it (remember that typically you should not print right into the maximums of the axis).
The Layer Height is also important, but remember that PLA does not work well below 0.08mm and ABS does not work well below 0.15mm – it is just science. Also remember that by having the layer height,you nearly double the time to print.
The Print Speed. This is the speed limit, it is however recommended to not print at your printer’s maximum, the forces required to speed up the head,and slow it down can cause your printer to shake, reducing print quality. Also a MK10 extruder (like on the Wanhao Duplicator 4S) have an inherent maximum speed of 60mm/s – exceeding this will result in jams.
The Printer Design. 3D printers come in a lot of different shapes and sizes, you should do little bit of research to determine if the design is “tried and trusted” – new designs should be left for the experts to run them through their paces.
Where to get help?
As someone who is new to 3D printing, you will require help at some point.
Most of the 3D printer builders have community based support systems, others will allow you to contact them directly. Sometimes your distributor will require you to contact them first.
We sell Wanhao 3D Printers, if you need support for them, you can ask your question at the Wanhao 3D Printer Group – when you contact us and you have a support topic there, also include a link to the topic.
Basics of Community Based Support
Before asking, make sure you have leveled the print bed – 95% of the time issues are caused by a not level print bed, or the first layer being either too high, or too low.
Most people in the community volunteer their time, and sometimes even money, to help people with questions – their time is very valuable only ask when you were unable to find a similar problem.
Before posting look for a topic created by someone else, experiencing the same issue – asking the exact same question as somebody else, who received an answer, wastes your own time as well as the time of the person trying to help you.
Do not ask for personal support by an expert – someone else might have the same issue and now the expert have to answer it twice.
Always be polite, do not attack anyone or make bad remarks – you might get banned, or just be ignored.
When asking, give as much information as possible, including what printer you are using, the software you use to slice. Have you done something that might cause an issue – also state it.
When receiving help, follow the provided instructions – even if you have done it before, do it again – there are too many topics where the issue was something simple that was overlooked.
Where to get objects to print?
One of the most popular places to get objects is at Thingiverse by Makerbot. This is not only a place for printable items and projects, but also for CNC machines and Laser engravers/cutters.
Whenever you download anything to make, always check the license for the item. Most of the items on Thingiverse are under the “Creative Commons – Attribution” license. This license allows you to download and use the part free of charge. You may share it and even adapt it (create your own version) even commercially. The requirement is that you must give credit, link to the license and indicate if changes were made. You are not allowed to restrict others from doing anything that is permitted by the license. Lastly no guarantees are given – it is placed as is, and you may use it for any purpose you see fit.
Do you have any other questions related to Getting Started with 3D Printing? Contact us and we will help you.