Materials, Strength of Prints, Cost, Skill and
Spare parts, Decoration, Fixing things, New Creations, Prosthetics, Buildings, Prototyping, Toys, Cars, Manufacturing
Ease of Access
Varies per printer, requires leveling, alignment, calibration, repairs, modeling, post-processing, time…
What is 3D Printing?
A new form of manufacturing with unlimited potential
Consumer 3D printing usually involves some sort of filament being melted and extruded in a specific pattern to form a 3D design. This design can be almost anything imaginable, with more possibilities being available every day.
Fused Deposition Modeling
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) or fused filament fabrication (FFF) is the current most popular method of 3D printing. These are generally interchangeable terms that mean that filament is heated up, melted, and extruded from a hot end on an extruder.
Special software is used to create a 3D model, which is exported into a different type of software called slicers. This slicer creates the GCODE that the printer uses to perform all the operations to build the model.
These are plain text instructions that use various codes to tell the printer what to do. Some examples are heat to a certain temperature, move to a location, and extrude some amount of filament.
Spools of filament (commonly PLA or ABS) are pulled into the extruder and forced through the hotend to be melted and then pushed out the nozzle and on to the build plate.
BUILT UP OFF A PLATE
As the printer moves around the build plate, it extrudes the filament in order to build an object from the ground up with the instructions from the GCODE file.
Different materials need different temperatures to become molten. ABS typically requires more heat, which could require a better extruder.
ABS is often stronger than PLA. However, it warps much easier, making it harder to print.
ABS can be melted with acetone in order to give it a smoother texture after printing.
PRICE & EASE OF USE
PLA is one of the cheapest materials, and the easiest to print, making it the most popular material to use.
Other materials such as PETG, wood, metals, or even chocolate can be used as well, but those often have special requirements.
+ MUCH BETTER FINAL RESULT
Much higher levels of detail and smoothness can be achieved.
– MORE POST PROCESSING
Solven rinsing and UV light curing is required after printing.
– HIGHER COST
Much more expensive printer required, and more expensive materials are used.
3D Printing is an expensive hobby, with many ways to empty your wallet.
The time it takes to print objects can range from a matter of minutes for a tiny item to many hours for a larger one, and even to multiple days for very large prints.
Some factors to consider are how long it takes to model the item you want to print (or you can acquire one online), the speed of your printer, and how much time you may need to touch up the model afterwards. All of these factors vary heavily for each print.
For example, my printer working on a moon.
What Can You Make?
The usefulness of a 3D printer is making (almost) anything you can imagine.
These include: spare parts, decorations/novelty items, functional pieces, toys, miniature figurines, desk ornaments, repairs, replacement keyboard key caps, flash drive holders, decorative storage containers, phone holders, phone cases, medical devices, prosthetics, rapid prototyping, and more. The possibilities are endless.
Here are some examples of things I’ve printed so far…
SD Card Holder
Flash Drive Holder
There will always be waste filament such as from a raft or brim. These could end up in landfills if thrown away, or sent for recycling.
Filabot makes machines that take in old plastic and can extrude them into new rolls. They also sell fully recycled pellets for use in their machines.
As for the actual printed products, they should last many years without any degradation.
Is 3D Printing for you?
3D printing has many uses and drawbacks, which makes judging the practicality, usefulness, and ease of access difficult. However, generally speaking, if you have a desire to try out 3D printing, it is definitely worth the shot. If you’re not very interested, maybe stay away from it until it becomes a bit easier, or try any of many online 3D model printing services.
Welcome to the bottom of the page! Hope you learned a lot!
Questions? Comments? Send me a message!