3D Printing is cool. We mean seriously, truly, cool. No other technology has affected so many industries with quite the same fervour and potential.To date, 3D printing has aided major breakthroughs in the medical, manufacturing and motoring industries, not to mention revolutionising the arts and crafts arena.
With this in mind, more people than ever are embarking on their first 3D printing venture, so before you begin have a look at these dos and don’ts of 3D Printing.
Don’t Skip Research
You’re excited - you’ve got yourself a great 3D printer, so with all the energy of a new spring lamb you gambol off to purchase a new 3D printer so that you can unleash your boundless imagination. To hell with research, to hell with informed decisions, you want to print and you want to print now. We get it, honestly, 3D Printers make us feel that way too, but we strongly urge you to just hang back a moment.
For one thing, there is a huge range of 3D printers out there and some will have capabilities that others don’t. Then there’s printing material, do you know what’s compatible with your machine and whether it will have the desired finish once done? Trust us, think about what you want and then do some research. After that you can gambol about all you like.
Don’t Start Big
Whilst we can appreciate that you want your first creation to be glorious, we do advise to start small and simple. Yes, small and simple wins the race. If you begin with very basic shapes like a cube and simply get to know how your machine works and how various materials behave, you can then confidently embark on the print of Smaug you so desperately want to.
Don’t Ignore Safety Procedures
3D printing technology is constantly being improved upon and many high quality printers are safe to use in a classroom setting now. That said, we highly recommend you are aware of the potential hazards a 3D printer has if you aren’t aware of them.
Most printers will have parts that get hot so handling must be done with care. Similarly the materials used can be toxic if you aren’t operating in a well ventilated area. As with most things, 3D printers are only as dangerous as the people using them so always make sure you are fully aware of how to safely operate one.
Do Read the Guidelines
Remember the last really cool thing you bought? Like a build-your-own drone? Remember how in your excitement you briefly scanned the instructions, decided you had garnered enough information and ploughed ahead with the task at hand? Do you then remember messing it up in spectacular fashion and wrongly blaming the apparatus?
Well, we urge you to maintain your excitement but also to read the instructions. Whilst 3D printers generally arrive with no assembly necessary, there can be elements that you have to set up yourself. On a similar note, it is highly advised to make sure you calibrate your printer correctly, if you rush over this part you can end up with poor results. In short, do read everything that comes with your printer and if you are still unsure, read some more online, there’s a wealth of information out there.
Do Use Online Forums
3D Printing is one of those awesome hobbies that bring people together into online communities. Forums exist for all activities - even the really weird ones - and 3D printing is no different.
Whether it's discussing the latest printer model or simply to have a chin wag about the trials and triumphs associated with this activity, forums have a wealth of insight into the industry. Check out Reddit's 3D printing community for all of this and more. Engaging in this can be both inspiring and helpful; if you’re stuck or unsure about how to proceed, someone’s bound to have some helpful advice for you.
Do Consider CAD Designing
Once you’ve mastered the art of creating a simple shape you are quickly going to want to progress to more complex designs and for that we strongly recommend using a CAD (Computer Aided Design) programme. CAD programmes such as Autodesk and Blender are among some of the favourites for first time designers and once you’re comfortable with those you can progress to more intricate ones.
Do a little research, some programmes are built with the design of functional items in mind, whilst others are more for figurines and basic toys.
Like we said, 3D printing is cool, so make sure you conduct your entrance into the activity mindfully to make the most of it. Read a lot, ask a lot and then practice! With so many models, materials and potential, it’s fair to assume you’ll have a few failures (i.e. stepping stones) on the road to printing success. Take note, move on and be inspired.
Check out our printers here for a full breakdown of what they can do and what materials work best.