What if someone told you that a single device could make everything from wristwatches and car parts to modern art and human tissue? Would you believe them?
While it might sound like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, it’s not. The best 3D printers let you create all of that and more.
However, most people don’t know much about 3D printing basics. To remedy that, we’ve put together this guide on 3D printing for beginners. By the time you finish reading it, you’ll know exactly how they operate.
Read on to learn about 3D printing basics and how you can get started with using one.
How Does 3D Printing Work?
While it’s true that 3D printers use advanced and sophisticated technology, the media tends to make it out to be more magical than it is.
3D printers can use many different printing technologies, but most use the same one: fused deposition modeling or FDM. Let’s take a look at exactly what that is:
Fused Deposition Modeling
When manufacturers want to try out new parts, the best way to do that is by creating physical copies of an object. People first developed FDM and 3D printers because they wanted to create these prototypes quickly.
3D printers use a material called thermoplastic filament to build objects. This is a cord that printers can melt, deposit, and cool. They place layer after layer on top of one another until they finish constructing an object.
If you ever see the abbreviation FFM, it stands for fused filament fabrication. This is the same technology as FDM, but early trademarks prevented people from using the two terms interchangeably.
The Different Hardware Pieces
To better understand how 3D printers and FDM works, you should also understand some specific components.
Here are the main parts found in a 3D printer:
The build platform is the surface where the 3D printer manufacturers different objects. Most 3D printers heat their build platforms so that the adhesive they use works as it should.
The extruder is the part of the printer that melts the material then deposits it to build the object. To do that, it requires two ends: one hot and one cold.
The cold end contains drive gears, a motor, and some other small pieces—these work to push the material towards the hot end, which contains a nozzle and a heater. The hot end deposits the material once it’s molten.
Between these two ends are fans and a heatsink—these work to ensure that both ends stay at the correct temperature.
Depending on the 3D printer you’re using, you can expect to see different types of control interfaces.
Older models have traditional dials and buttons to navigate. These get the job done but aren’t as easy to use as the control interfaces of newer models.
Modern 3D printers have touchscreens and panels that make the printing process a breeze. Some models may also have USB ports or a slot for an SD card.
As its name suggests, the print head is the area of the printer where the material comes out. It features a narrow tube through which manufacturers feed the thermoplastic filament.
How to Start 3D Printing
If all of that sounds complex, you’ll be happy to know that the actual printing process is simple.
Four major steps form a part of the process:
Acquire the Models
Of course, if you want to print a 3D object, you first need to have a 3D model. Most of the time, you’ll get this from a computer-aided drawing or CAD program.
If you don’t have the skills needed to make the objects you want to print, you can find files to download on many different sites.
Once you find a 3D model, you’ll need to do more than connect it to the printer. You first have to use a software program that translates the model into a file that the printer can decipher.
3D printers use a language called G-code. This tells the printer everything it needs to know, from the temperature to use to the layer and wall thickness.
Prepare the Printer
As is the case with a regular printer, you’ll have to set up a few things on a 3D printer before you can use it.
The first thing you’ll have to do is load the filament. To do this, you need to heat the hot end of the extruder then insert the filament inside.
After that, you’ll need to make sure that the build platform is level. Some printers do this automatically, but others require you to do it each time you use the machine.
After the print job finishes, the last thing you’ll need to do is post-processing. Depending on the specific object you create, you may or may not have to do the following:
- Remove the support
- Sand down the object
- Add paint
- Polish and smooth it
- Weld and glue smaller pieces together
Aside from doing all of this, make sure that you have a quality 3D printer to ensure the job turns out how you want it to.
Are you wondering, “What Is The Best 3D Scanner On The Market?” Make sure to do some research to find out.
3D Printing for Beginners
Wrapping your head around 3D printing can be challenging, especially if you don’t have much experience with it. However, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may seem.
Whether you want to begin a project or want to learn more about it, this guide on 3D printing for beginners can help you out. Using it will help make 3D printing basics a breeze.
Do you now have a better idea of how to start 3D printing? If you do, make sure to check out the rest of our site for more helpful guides, tips, and explanations.