3D printing

So you want to learn about 3D printing? Cool!

Upload and 3D print at the MakerSpace here:
3D print online

3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a physical product out of a digital model. We use FDM printers because they are cheaper and more accessible.

The design process:

  1. The easiest way to get printing is to download a model from thingiverse.com. you can even customise some items on the website. But printing someone else’s design has it’s limits so you need to learn to:
  2. Create a 3D model in modelling software like Sketchup (and SDL Plugins), tinkercad123D design, 123D catch (on your smartphone), Rhino, Blender, cinema 4D, maya, Solidworks, ProE, catia etc. Convert the model into an SDL or OBJ file type.
  3. Then you should check your SDL file before going further to save yourself hours of frustration. Use a free service like Netfabb or willit3Dprint.
  4. Once you’ve got the green light on your SDL, Import it into a slicing program like Makerware (easy), Cura, Repetier, or Slic3r (advanced). Customise the settings for your print (temperatures, material types, speeds etc)
  5. Export the “gcode” file which the 3D printer understands.
  6. Print: (you can use a service like 3Dhubs if you don’t have your own 3D printer.)
  7. wait (3D printing takes a long time – the printer builds the model literally 0.1mm at a time)
  8. Enjoy your creation!
  9. Repeat.


3D printing materials:

FDM 3D printers melt a plastic filament usually made of ABS or PLA and squeeze the molten plastic through a thin nozzle (0.2-0.5mm). The print head moves around squeezing out the plastic like a toothpaste tubeThink about which Plastic you want to use.

more background reading:

wikipedia on 3D printing

3D printing: whats all the fuss about

REPRAP detailed beginners guide to 3D printing


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