Beginners Guide to 3D Printing

Posted by on 13 Dec 2013 | Category: Industry Trends

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Beginners Guide to 3D Printing

3D printing is very new to us all, but we know that it’s going to have a huge impact and change on the way we design and create EVERYTHING! And while most of us are wondering the “how’s” of this technology, it’s changing all of the time – and its changing fast! Even while writing this article, important information has changed. So while the information in this article is relevant now, it may not be in the next 12 months.

What software do I need to create a 3D design?

Autodesk have a free software program called Fusion 360. At the time of writing, the webpage says GOODBYE INVENTOR FUSION, HELLO FUSION 360. Inventor Fusion for Windows and Mac is still currently available for download, but Fusion 360 is a cloud based service.

If you want professional software then try SolidWorks or Autocad.

If you are already using CAD design/drawing software, look to see what existing 3D modules or add-ons are available.

What file format do we need to supply?

STL file format. Consider it the current 3D version of a PDF file.

How much does it cost to print?

Just like printing, we cannot answer that question without looking at the STL file. It is charged on a combination of volume of plastic and time to print.

Is there any further set up involved?

Again we cannot answer that without looking at the file. One thing to note is that if your design has an appendage sticking out (say a print of a ballet dancer in mid leap), the 3D printer’s own internal software creates the correct support struts so that your 3D print doesn’t overbalance and fall over mid-print.

What type of plastics are used?

Currently there are two main types.

ABS plastic is similar to what is used to make Lego (yes you can now print your own custom lego bricks). It can shrink and warp though over a period of time.

PLA plastic is used for larger printing and is cheaper, stronger and biodegradable.  It is a more brittle plastic and can snap if too much tension is placed on it.

Where can i find print ready files?

There is a great website called http://www.thingiverse.com/ where you can browse the world’s largest 3D design community for discovering, printing, and sharing 3D models.

What model 3D printer do you currently have?

We are using an Airwolf 3D XL.  The maximum printing dimensions are 300ml x 200ml x 175ml.  Below is a video showing it in action.

For further information or a quote please send your request to us, and we will respond as soon as possible.

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