Basics of 3D Printing
Welcome to the 3D Printing Guide
Like regular 2D printing, 3D printing starts as a digital file. However, instead of a 2D image on paper, a 3D printer will print an object in three dimensions. This means there is a whole new world of possibilities!
Below is a quick look at the basic steps to 3D printing, to learn more visit the other sections of this guide or chat with a Fabrication Lab staff member in person.
You can create a digital file using a 3D printing software (like TinkerCAD or Fusion360), or you can download a premade design off the internet (visit Thingiverse or PrusaPrinters). Ideally, once you have chosen your design, you will have an STL file to work with.
After you have created your file, you will slice it using a slicing software, the Fabrication Lab uses the PrusaSlicer software. This software reads the different layers of your 3D model, so it can print them. You will need to save your file as a G-code type file, so the printer is able to read it.
When your file is ready, you can save it to an SD card, plug it into the 3D printer, find your file and then press START! The 3D printer will then bring your design to life.
3D printing can be used in art, manufacturing, prototyping, and more!
3D Model Search
3D Model Search
There are several websites available online that will allow you to search for, and find, 3D models.
You can visit thingiverse.com to find many different 3D models.
- Open the website and scroll through different models, or search for a specific object in the top search bar.
- Select the model you want
- Click download to save the file. Note: Some objects will have multiple files and parts to the model that you will have to download. Generally, the files are available as STL files (which is ideal!)
You can find more models at thangs.com. You are required to create an account with this website, but it is free.
Similar to Thingiverse, you are able to search for and download the models as STL files.
Another website that has premade models is the Prusa website, Printables.com.
You can explore models by topic, or file type.
3D Design Creation
3D Design Creation
There are multiple different programs that you can use to create a 3D model. Two main ones that the Fabrication Lab uses are TinkerCad and Fusion360.
TinkerCad is an excellent software for beginners, while Fusion360 allows for more complex options for your modelling.
- You will need to create an account at Tinkercad.com
- Ensure that you are in the 3D design section of the program and then click "Create your own design"
- You can create your design using the given shapes, or text on the far right side of the program
- Use the ruler tool for dimensions and work-plane tool to select the plane where you want to work
- To modify an existing model, you can click "Import" to upload your model
- You can then edit or adjust your model as needed.
- When you are finished, click "export" to download your model and select the STL file option in the 3D print section.
Prusa Slicer- Getting your print ready
Using Prusa Slicer and getting your print ready
Step 1: Supports, anyone?
The 3D printer works by printing layer over layer of filament, which means each layer of printing must be supported by the layer below it. If the model has an over-hang or steep angles, the model will require supports to ensure the print is successful. Supports can be removed after the print is complete and will leave your model the way it was designed.
Step 2: "Brim" me up, Scotty!
A brim is a layer of filament that extends along the print bed from the edges of a 3D print. Adding a brim can improve bed adhesion and prevent warping of your design. Like supports, the brim can be removed after the print is complete.
Step 3: Settings set-up
You can discuss the options with a Fabrication Lab staff member, but generally your print should be set to:
- 0.20mm Quality
- Infill = 10
- Gyroid infill
- Perimeters = 3
- Filament = PLA
Step 4: "Slice Now"
Click the button on the bottom right "Slice Now" to examine the G-Code. You will be able to see the length of the print, the amount of filament used, the cost etc. Ensure that the settings are correct. If needed, go back and adjust the settings.
Look at the amount of filament needed for your print and ensure you select a printer with enough filament to complete the print.
Step 5: Export G-Code
Click "Export G-Code" and save the file to an SD card.
Step 6: Start Printing
Choose your printer, put SD card into printer and select your design. Ensure that you have confirmed with a staff member that you are ready to print and that they have added your print into the 3D printing log.
Stay with your print for the first 10-15min to ensure no immediate errors occur. It is also recommended that you come back and check on your print while it is printing in case it fails and needs to be adjusted. If your print fails, chat with a staff member to see whether it was a printer, slicer settings or design error and attempt to fix the error before re-printing.