So you want to buy a 3D Printer eh? Here we will talk about some basic information for beginners who want to learn about 3D Printers and 3D Models. This can be over whelming for some and it’s hard to find a starting point. Honestly there is no wrong way to start you have to just jump right in and immerse yourself. Don’t be afraid to break stuff and be aware 3D Printing is a time consuming hobby. You must be willing to sit through countless youtube videos and read tons of threads to learn how to become an experienced 3D Printer operator.
Before you even think about buying a 3D Printer I suggest you watch the many video from the “trinity” of gurus on 3D printing.
These are just to name few and there are many others out there on youtube. These 3 in my opinion have the best range of information and are quite fun to watch. These videos will answer a lot of your pre-buying questions before you run out and buy a 3D Printer.
The next question you should ask yourself is why do I want a 3D Printer?
- I’m a designer and want to print my own things
- I need one for work to print in house prototypes
- I want to make money printing models for others
- It just looks fun and I want one
Those are just a few reasons why people choose to buy a 3D Printer and these purposes will usually help you determine what kind of printer to buy.
What 3D Printer should I buy?
Ha! Good Luck with this one. The best advice I can give you is do your research, read reviews and buy a printer that caters to your needs best.
A great resource for 3D Printer comparisons is on 3dhubs.com the 3D Printer Guide which breaks down some of the most popular printers in various categories.
Use common sense why choosing your printer.
Beginner = Buy a Budget pre-assembled printer and start tinkering
No Space = Buy a Delta
Have tons of time = Buy a 3D Printer Kit to Assemble
Got $$$ = Buy resin-based 3D Printers or BadAss Commercial Grade 3D Printer
Ok I bought a 3D Printer now what?
Well start printing!
A great resource is http://www.thingiverse.com/ which offers tons of downloadable STL models to print. It’s a great online community with great info and users.
A good way to start printing things is search for upgrades for your printer. This will get you used to printing and will also start your tinkering addiction if you don’t already have the bug.
First Print Issues?
So if your new to the game you are most likely having first layer and bed adhesion problems. Here are some n00b tips;
Level your bed!!! Take the time to make sure your print bed is as level as possible. I recommend starting with PLA Filament as it does not require a heated build plate and is most likely to stick to your bed.
It’s really easy to level your bed and it’s worth taking the time to do this correctly. I recommend leveling on 3 points on your bed like in the image below. You can do this using your 3D Printer controls or with software like Simplify3D, Cura or Pronterface.
Move your HotEnd Nozzle over the area and zero (home) your 3D Printers Z Height. You should be able to slide a standard piece of paper between the nozzle and print surface to where you can feel resistance of the nozzle on the paper. You should barely be able to move the paper back and forth without is buckling or folding due to friction. Do this for all 3 points on your bed. This should result in a uniform “Squish” that is nice and semi-transparent on the bed surface. This will be a never ending adjustment to find the perfect ratio of stick, squish and elephants foot
Next think about what you are printing on and what you need to make prints stick;
Sheet Metal Bed = Blue Painters Tape (the one with no orange graphics)
Glass Bed = Elmer’s Glue Stick or Hairspray if your prints are not sticking
Other Bed Surface Types: PrintInZ Build Plate, Polyetherimide Ultem (PEI) Sheet, BuildTak or other innovations.
If you are still having trouble check out this great troubleshooting guide from Simplfy3D: Print Quality Troubleshooting Guide
Mastered the first layer now what?
Once you have a good concept of how to properly get your printer setup and are ready to print you can start basic calibrating of your machine. Different Materials require different parameters. For example; Red PLA will print great at 190°C whereas White PLA will print great at 210°C. I always run a small test print when I get a new filament in to see what it’s sweet spots are. Here are some things you can print to test the filament in your machine and make adjustments.
Temp Test by bjorntm
Retraction Test by wemperor
Get these dialed in and you’ll be printing like a pro in no time!
You are now ready to start 3D printing. If you want to make some money and have fun 3D Printing while doing it, start a 3D Printer Hub.
But you’d better be ready to offer quality prints and service. This is a great way to get some mileage on your printer and learn how to print more complicated objects. The best way to learn to keep on printing! I hope you found this article useful. Please post some comments and feedback below and happy printing!