We can all agree that 3D printing is a really cool technology, but there’s a steep learning curve that most people don’t tell you about. We’ve listed 10 awesome tips that will help you create a really cool product that’s both stylish and practical.
1. Design Your Projects To Print Without Support
Printing your projects without the need for support seems a lot more complicated than it looks. In the image below, you can see a basic shape that I designed.
Most printers can print up to an angle of about 45 degrees. If you take your project and ensure that there are no overhangs steeper than 45 degrees, you’ll be fine.
As long as you had good adhesion on the print bed, your print should turn out time. It does help if you have an oblong object in which the center of mass is over of where it’s going to be sitting on the bed.
2. Don’t Print Long Edges
You shouldn’t be printing out long edges with your prints. This problem was mostly corrected once printers supported printing PLA since it doesn’t curl as much as ABS plastic. Yet you can still have troubles when trying to print things that are fairly long along the bottom of the product where it touches the print bed. The real trick is to not print things along the long edge. They’re most likely going to peel, even if PLA. The easiest thing you can do is reorient your print to where you have the smaller edge on the print bed, and this will make it print our much more smoothly.
You usually see a large number of complaints about about prints sticking to the heat bed. I’ve heard a lot of tips – using a little bit of glue, hairspray and all of this other stuff. These tricks are completely overthinking the adhesion problem. The easiest way to take care of it is very simple. On the MakerBot 3D Printer, the print bed comes completely out. PLA tends to print better, but ABS works well too since it sticks well to the bed extremely easily.
The easiest thing you can do is go to the drug store and get some acetone. Put a small splash on your print bed. Take an old print and put it on the acetone. What’s going to happen is that the bottom of the print is going to melt, and a bit of ABS plastic will stick to the print bed. As soon as this dries, this print bed will be perfect for ABS printing since they’ll stick to it no problem.When you use this method, you do have to be careful. Putting too much plastic down will weld your parts to your print bed and they can be difficult to peel off. Therefore be weary of a lot of ABS contact. Simply put your object straight up and down to best avoid this. Aside from that, ABS is definitely the best way to go when using this method.
For PLA prints, you don’t need tape or anything like everyone else says. The easiest thing you can do is get sandpaper around 100 grit (nothing too coarse) and gently scuff the surface of the build platform just a tiny bit. If you’re worried about this, you can just try it on one side to start with. If you think that you’ve scuffed it up too much, just use a finer grit sandpaper to sand it back down. The great thing about this is that it slightly roughens the surface to where the PLA products stick phenomenally. This completely eliminates the need for tape or anything of this nature. If you do have something a bit larger or a bit more challenging, you may need to use tape. Otherwise this is the best way to go.
4. Don’t Try To Print Too Many Of The Same Model During The Same Run
I know it’s tempting to just set it and forget it, but it only just takes one of the models to fail for all of the prints to fail. As soon as it starts to move, all of the other models will get off balance. When you come back to check on your printer, you’ll often find PLA and ABS all over the place, and your models will be knocked off the print bed. You won’t just lose one, but also all of them, along with a big mess.
5. Think About The Design In All Steps Of The Printing Process
As you start to get some practice in and get better at 3D printing design, you’ll quickly learn there’s more design than what’s actually trying to get the part the print to print out. You rather have to print around the entire process. Most printers can print a bit of an overhang. The good thing about printing small overhangs near the bottom is that it helps you to be able to pry up the model from the build plate. It helps it tremendously when trying to remove it with some type of spatula tool. By putting a bit of lip under the model makes it that much easier to get it off of the build plate.
6. Use A Power Backup
The other day I was printing and the power went out just a few minutes during one of my prints, and I was so frustrated. This entirely ruined the print. If you get a power backup for your 3D printer, you don’t have to worry about even the smallest power outages. The one I got only cost me about $50 on Amazon and it works fantastic – it could probably power my printer for an hour or two, but I don’t have to worry about this usually. This will get you through any type of power surges. This way you don’t have to worry about losing a print that’s been going on for hours.
7. Learn From Failed Prints
A failed print is any print that goes wrong once it’s on the print bed, and everyone has this. Even once you get pretty good at 3D prints, it still tends to happen, even given my experience. Be honest with yourself about messing up. These machines – all models – are fairly reliable, so if you do get a failed print, don’t blame the machine first. The best thing you can do is first take a hard look about what you did and to learn from each failed print. I have a failed print that I did a while ago mostly because I was using ABS plastic on my Makerbot and it peeled off the print bed because the Makerbot is not designed to print ABS tape. However, you can still do this, but the main problem was that I didn’t have enough preparation on my print bed. I should’ve done what I recommended in step 3 and put a bit of acetone on the print bed. In short, I’m saying that it’s my fault, so take a step back after a failed print and recall the steps to see where you went wrong. Don’t get frustrated and use these failures as a learning experience to figure out how you can do it better. Approaching it this way will allow you to have less and less failed prints in the long-run.
8. Don’t Overthink Leveling
When it comes to leveling the print bed, it’s not as complex as most people think. A lot of companies make it more complex than it really should be. All you’re really trying to do is to ensure that the print head is the same distance away from the print bed at each of the points along the print bed. It needs to be the same distance all the way across. If it’s tilted to one side at all, then when the print head comes over to the side that’s down, the head isn’t going to be in contact and it’s going to be a bit far away. This way the plastic won’t stick to the print bed. On the other side where the bed is higher, the print head will bump into the printing plate and could possibly damage it.
This is why it’s super important to level the print bed before each print. However, there’s no need to overthink it with laser-leveling or anything of this nature as it’s a lot more simple than that. All you need to really do is ensure that the print head is touching the print bed at each three points: the two ends and the middle. Just make sure it’s not rubbing really hard agains it. In order to check this, the best way is to take a business card and stick it under the print head and you can feel if there’s a little bit of space. As long as the card can be slipped under there it’s fine, even if it’s touching the head a bit. Make sure to do this test at all 3 points, and again, a little bit of friction is fine as long as it slides through and it’s close. Each printer is different. The MakerBot takes you to three points, but other models may do it in a different manner.
9. Ask Questions And Share Your Feedback With The Designers Out There
For me personally, feedback helps me understand better how to make my designs more useable. Most of the times as a designer, I don’t realize how my design looks to everyone else. I know how it looks to me, but this is a completely biased view. You’ll sometimes find a bit of controversy between different views from different people. Sometimes it looks a bit more complex to outsiders than I originally thought. Thingiverse is a website in which users submit their prints for feedback, and AutoDesk has a great community as well. They also offer all of their basic 3D software for free. Just know that designers want to hear your feedback, and 9 times out of 10 they’re excited about answering questions since they love to share what they’re thinking when they made their designs.
10. Think Outside Of The Box
When it comes to 3D printing, you need to start thinking out of the box. Once you get a 3D printer and you go to where there’s shared designs and start printing off. There’s more to 3D printing than just printing things off of the internet, and it’s a pretty wide expanse out there. This is where I think that 3D printing becomes really exciting. This is just one example of how I’ve used 3D printed parts to connect other cheaper materials. The project that I’m currently working on is incredibly exciting, and the concept is simple. You can do amazing things with 3D printing other than trinkets, It’s okay to think big and start thinking about design and how to bridge materials together. It’s really easy to connect objects. If you’re new, start small and work your way up until you get it just right.