3D printers are types of printers that are able to print tangible 3D objects. 3D printers have been around for a few years now, however, it only recently has it been an affordable investment for the general consumer. There are several types of 3D printers in different sizes and shapes by different brands and the same. There are obviously several different steps to creating a 3D object and unlike what most people think it takes quite a bit of time to print as well. Since 3D printers print in layers depending on how detailed and how much quality one wants a simple fork or spoon can take anywhere from an hour to a few hours to make.
The two images above show different types of 3D printers as an example. There are several steps in order to get a proper printed object. Always be prepared to reprint. We learned this the hard way and ended up running out of filament. One of the first things you must do is make sure you level the printing bed as precisely as possible to avoid deformations and improper prints or to even prevent slanted prints. One thing to keep in mind is some printers like ours came with an auto leveler and we though that is all we needed to do and we ended up printing an object to later realize we had to further adjust the printing bed as it turned out horrible.
As we mentioned above 3D printing was something that has been around for a while but only recently has it been somewhat affordable to get a 3D printer. On top of that, it is only recently that most of the consumers started to realize how much you can do with a 3D printer. To explain, you can print figuratively speaking almost anything you can model. For example, there are projects that print things that are smile action figures called miniatures, to car parts for repair using different filaments, to now even entire houses. This is a great step in technology as long as we can imagine and 3D model production for nearly almost anything is possible. This even includes firearms which are ban in the United States from being 3D printed.
Another thing to keep in mind is the cost of making things from a 3D printer is significantly cheaper than purchasing it from a vendor. For example, we know several people who 3D print action figures or miniatures and their production cost are close to ten cents while their profit for a sale of one of those action figures is close to twenty dollars. Obviously, everyone prices their products differently but even if you sell the product at one dollar you are making a return on investment of ten times the amount. This means that 3D printing if done properly can be an extremely profitable business. An interesting fact we learned recently was that there are auto repair shops that 3D prints their repair parts so they can perform a repair at a cheaper charge for the clients and provide them a faster turnaround. This is done because they do not need to upcharge based on what the auto manufacturer is selling the part to them for and they do not need to wait for the part to be shipped out and received by someone at the shop.
As stated above one of the first things after turning on the printer is to properly level your printing bed. There are several YouTube videos on how to level a printing bed for different types of printers and there really isn’t a right way to do it. When we leveled our printing bed it took us over two hours as we had to go back to our point over and over in order to get it as precise as possible. We strongly recommend taking your time leveling your print bed as it is a crucial part later on when you start printing to avoid several issues like stringing, slanted prints, prints not sticking, and more. Below you can see the difference when it is too high, just right, or too close.
Once you properly level your print bed make sure you feed whichever filament you are going to use and present the proper temperature for both the nozzle and the print bed. After that, you need to have a model to print. This can be achieved in several different ways. One way is to find it on the internet download it and print it using your slicing software. The software we used and are familiar with is Cura. Just like everything else, there are several tutorials on the internet on how to download and set up Cura for use as well as import or open a 3D model to print. Once you do that we recommend going online and finding the ideal 3D printing settings for your printer and doing a few small test prints. Once you do that you can check how good or bad, they are and finetune your Cura settings. Doing what we described above took us a few days as our profiles were all over the place. One thing we also found out was rather than using the standard support print settings opt-in for the experimental tree supports which from our experience is far better and easier to take off.
If you can afford to invest in a 3D printer that can range anywhere from $79 to $5000+ we would definitely recommend getting one. Not only can you learn something but you could 3D print things just by modeling them on a computer and sending it to your printer to print it. Things most people never thought of making are being made today with different types of materials. We do not recommend a specific printer as we have not experimented enough with multiple. The one we have is called the Anycubic Chiron 3D printer and we are pretty happy with what it can produce. There are obviously other ones that are both more expensive and cheaper but we choose this for its form factor as we had a large project that needed to be printed which came out amazing. If you do decide to look into getting a 3D printer make sure you look at what type of community support the printer has. This is an important factor to take into consideration because if you have a good online community that can answer your questions it can save you a lot of headaches.