3D printing is an exciting and useful technology. There is hardly any sphere today in which it is is not making an impact.
But let’s face it, 3D Printing is complex and can be really tricky, especially for beginners.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to follow 3D printing tips to ensure that you stay abreast of the technology.
But where to get awesome actionable tips?
Fortunately they ARE people who already master the art of 3D printing.
We decided to gather 26 of them and ask them one question:
What is your best actionable 3D printing tip?
Let me tell you, the insights we received from these 26 experts were nothing short of amazing.
We’ve listed all of them below in the order they were received in:
1/ Joel Telling - 3D Printing Nerd: Don't Print When You Cannot Brain
Joel Telling (3D Printing Nerd) is a Pacific Northwest native, hailing from Seattle, Washington. His YouTube channel started out as a way for him to share all the cool things he was doing with his very first 3d printer, and since then has transformed into one of the most trusted online places for 3d printer reviews, tips, and tricks. His goal is to inform, educate, and advocate, and he accomplishes this with thanks in part to the wonderful 3d printing community he is a part of.
"My best tip comes from experience:Don't print when you cannot brain.
If you're up late and tired, if you've partied a bit hard and drank too much, if you're sick and on cold medicine - you AND your printer should get some rest.
I've tried to pick a model, slice it, export GCODE, load filament, watch the first layer, all while being too tired.
The chances of you making a mistake is high.
Just go to bed, get some rest, and try again in the morning :)"
2/ Filemon Schöffer - 3D Hubs: Check Out This Poster About Design Rules For 3D Printing
Filemon Schöffer (1985, Amsterdam) and his family have a long history in printing. Around 1450 Filemon’s ancestor, Peter Schöffer, made the family’s first move into the print business. Working as an engineer in Germany, he assisted Gutenberg with the development of the printing press. After a detour from the family in producing beer, which led to the infamous Schöfferhofer, Filemon thought the time was right to step back into modern 3D printing. He currently works as the Chief Marketing Officer at 3D Hubs, where he’s been responsible for setting up the world’s largest 3D printing network, with over 20,000 connected services. Filemon has been a featured 3D printing author for several major technology outlets and co-authored the 3D Printing Handbook.
"I'd answer this question with a poster about Design Rules for 3D Printing:
These are the most actionable / practical tips on designing for 3D printing you'll find online.
You can find the poster here: https://www.3dhubs.com/knowledge-base/key-design-considerations-3d-printing
3/ Joseph Flynt - 3D Insider: Make Sure You have Some Blue Painter's Tape or Hairspray Available...
Joseph Flynt is owner at 3D Insider. 3D Insider is all about 3D printing. Their goal is to expand the reach of 3D printers. They believe 3D printers will fundamentally alter the world across numerous domains. They want to help push the technology forward as much as They can. That's why they have developed in-depth guides to help people learn 3D printing. Additionally, they review the latest 3D printers. They have tutorials for beginners and experts alike.
"Make sure you have some blue painter's tape or hairspray available to allow your 3D print to stick to the build surface.
You can waste a lot of time just trying to get your 3D print started.
Just a light mist of hairspray 30 seconds before printing is usually sufficient.
Almost any hairspray will do the job.
Blue painter's tape also works if you don't have any hairspray around."
4/ Devin Montes - Make Anything: Improve Your 3D Design And Modeling Skills
Devin Montes is the founder of Make Anything which is a YouTube channel he has created to share his passion of 3D printing and design. Each video shares his experience working on a 3D design project, whether they're quick-fixes for problems around the house, or just something really cool and unique to 3D printing. His goal is to provide educational content and inspire viewers to exercise their creativity.
"I believe the very best thing you can do to get the most out of 3D printing is to improve your 3D design and modeling skills.
By designing models yourself you can build objects that are specifically suited for 3D printing, and you can solve problems in a hyper-specific and personal way that additive manufacture is ideal for.
3D printing is always satisfying, but I find it so much more rewarding when you've created the object from scratch... an idea rapidly realized!"
5/ Joe Larson - 3D Printing Professor: Temper Your Expectation
"My best actionable 3D printing tip? I have so many.
I guess I would say, "Temper your expectation".
3D printing is super cool, it's practically magic, But it's also got it's limitations, so don't go expecting the replicator from Star Trek on your desk, and the cheaper your printer is, the further from that you'll get.
That said, I would also throw in a bonus tip: "Just do it", which someone before me may have said in relation to something else, but I'm saying now in relation to this.
There is no better teacher than experience and getting something 3D printed, or running a 3D printer yourself, will do more to teach you about 3D printing than every book or video about 3D printing."
6/ Raunak Singhi - 3Dexter: Understand Your Machine First
Aged 23,i founded 3Dexter with my 6 other school friends who later have become my co-founders.We have always had this knack to revolutionize the classrooms and with 3Dexter we are able to get close to our goal.We founders have done graduation in different fields and are working in the 3Dexter for the past 3 years.Our dream is to see 3D printing technology in each and every school and our visions align with the same.Before this i was acting as a marketing consultant for The Time sof India newspaper.
"In India,at 3Dexter,we have visited more than 800 schools and have given 3D printing workshops to more than 41000 students in the past 3 years.
One thing we have realized is the students are very curious here and want to do all sort of things with the printer at the same time.
Students expect the most creative designs in the least time possible.
Well ! It doesn't "always"run like that.
My sincere advice to all my students has been to understand their machine first.
All machines are different and use different setting to give the best output.
It's really important to run a lot of test prints and understand how the machine works best.Hence understanding and befriending the 3D printer is my tip."
7/ Sushil Baranwal - Morphedo: Design Parts Specific to a 3D Printing Technology
Sushil Baranwal is the Founder of Morphedo. Sushil started Morphedo as a student entrepreneur while still in the 2nd year of his M.B.A. Morphedo is a 3d printing services company for businesses to access manufacturing of prototypes and custom parts on demands. They provide 3d printing services in 25+ material options. He is an entrepreneur with an insatiable thirst of self learning. Being a package of persistence and patience helps him stay calm and prepared all the time.
"Design Parts Specific to a 3D Printing Technology:
We can get optimal 3d print result if a part is designed for a specific 3d printing technology.
For example, having wall thickness in a part between 2 – 3 mm with minimal overhangs can result in a good quality print even if it has been 3d printed in FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technology.
However, it is not cost effective to 3d print the same part in SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) technology.
We can achieve similar strength and very good quality in a 3dprinted part even if we keep 1.5 – 2 mm wall thickness and print it in SLS technology."
8/ Joris Peels - Voxel Fab: Eliminate Variables As Much As You Can
Joris Peels is a 3D Printing Consultant and founder of Voxelfab. Voxelfab is an Additive Manufacturing & 3D Printing Consultancy specializing in end-use polymer and metal parts made by industrial and desktop 3D printers through mass customization and generative design.
"3D Printing is a combination of settings, software, material, the operator, the environment and the 3D Printer. The 3D Printing Hexagon if you will. The complex interplay between these six key elements cases many feedback loops and much interference between factors that make up your print.
In order to print well eliminate variables. Test, repeat, iterate and fail faster. Limit your variables by enclosing your printer, using high quality 3D Printing material, keeping settings consitent, limiting changes in room temperature, limiting variance in humidity. Changing slicing settings, printer settings and print material all the time limits your learning. Try to dial in the process with as few variables as is possible and then build on that.
So my best actionable tip overall is to eliminate variables as much as you can.
The simplest tip I can give you to print better is to put your 3D Printer on the floor. This will improve your prints because the machine will be more stable and less prone to vibration."
9/ Chuck Hellebuyck - Filament Friday: There Is No "Out-Of-The-Box" Magic, You Just Have To Learn By Doing
Chuck Hellebuyck is the Creator of 3D Printing YouTube Show - Filament Friday. Author of multiple books and articles about Electronics and 3D Printing. On his YouTube channel, he shows you how to 3D Print useful objects using low-cost 3D printers. He uses a free design software called Tinkercad and take you step by step through his designs so you can learn to design your own useful 3D prints.
"Each 3D Printer has a personality. Learn your printer and the slicing software you plan to use.
Print, Print, and Print some more. Learn what temperature works best for the filament you like to use.
What the best bed setting for temperature and bed level height are for your printer. What flow rate works best in your slicer. etc.
There is no one right answer but over time you will find what works best for you and your printer.
There is no "out-of-the-box" magic, you just have to learn by doing and fortunately, that's the fun part."
10/ Jeremy Simon - 3D Universe: Make Sure Your Bed Is Properly Leveled
Jeremy Simon is a founding partner of 3D Universe, a leading reseller of 3D printing and digital fabrication solutions. He is also an active participant in the e-NABLE volunteer community, making 3D printed prosthetic devices for people around the world. Jeremy serves as the chairperson of e-NABLE's Strategic Planning Committee and is part of the development team for e-NABLE Web Central, e-NABLE's online solution for matching volunteers with device recipients.
"Make sure your bed is properly leveled. Having a properly leveled bed will make the difference between a perfect first layer and a failed print.
When properly leveled, the first layer should be pressed flat onto the build plate. If the filament is sitting on top of the bed, not flattened down, you need to move the bed closer to the nozzle.
If the filament is being flattened so thin that you can see through the material to the bed, then you need to move the bed farther from the nozzle."
11/ Lydia Sloan Cline - Johnson County Community College: Use a Heated Build Plate
Lydia Sloan Cline teaches digital modeling for fabrication, 3D printing, and drafting courses at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS. She is the author of eight books on those subjects and is constantly creating things with her small fleet of 3D printers and CNC machines. Lydia wrote 'Fusion 360 for Makers' as a hands-on how-to guide for novices. You can see the published books here.
"for the physical printing process, my best tip is to use a heated build plate. It gives so much better results than a cold one, even for filaments that don’t require a heated plate.
For the digital modeling of prints, I recommend knowing multiple programs so you can devise a workflow that utilizes the strengths of each program."
12/ Jon Soong - Makers Empire: Start With a Simple Design, a Simple Filament And a Simple Reliable Printer
Jon is a co-founder and CEO of Makers Empire. His goal is to give every student the opportunity and ability to learn with 3D design and printing. Makers Empire 3D is the world's easiest to use 3D design software that allows students as young as 5 to get started.
"For new users I would suggest starting with:
- A simple design (e.g. the benchy boat); with
- Simple filament (e.g. the manufacturers PLA); and
- A simple reliable printer (see our site for some reviews!)
Once you get going there are a million things you can tweak (more complex designs, different filaments, DIY printers), but making that first step as easy as possible will ensure you have a good time."
13/ Sukhdeep Singh - 3DPrintersIndia: An Early Introduction of This Technology During Very Early Stage of Education, Will Help The World Turn Better
Sukhdeep Singh (Founder of 3DPrintersIndia) - Graduate in mechanical engineering and post graduate in marketing and international business. Interests in technology, 3d printing, finance, entrepreneurship, books.
"Children are the fastest learner and future of this planet. So, for 3d printing technology to have some actionable or practical value for all, it is very important that this technology should take maximum effort not only for manufacturing sector but for kids and educational sector also.
An early introduction of this technology during very early stage of education, will help the world turn better as kids would develop quickly, that analytical and innovative mindset, which would help them develop new things at faster pace and help this planet to make greener, cleaner, healthier place to live."
14/ Artem Arno - Treatstock: Measure Twice, Cut Once
Artem Arno Founder & CEO of Treatstock. He owns a Bachelor's Degree in Computer science and a Master's Degree in Business Strategy. Watermark3D.com (watermarking software for 3D models).
Founder of fabricated parts supplier.
"The first words that come to mind are “Measure twice, cut once”. Without a doubt I consider additive manufacturing to be an amazing technology that has and will continue to enrich the world of manufacturing. However, I have observed that most people still don’t quite understand the essence of this wonderful technology: some underestimate it, others on the contrary.
That’s why, regardless of whether you’re a customer that requires a one-off 3D print or a business that has decided to acquire an industrial 3D printing machine, the key is to put a lot of thought into the specific technology and materials that you’re going to use before making the decision.
The range of 3D printing technologies and materials is vast and they all have many nuances that should be considered. A mistake, even a small one, can be very costly.
Therefore, it’s important to “measure twice” or contact an experienced professional that you can trust for advice."
15/ Mubin Maredia - Cheap3DFilaments: Examine Some of Your Prints for Foreign Objects or Possible Material Found in The Filament
Mubin Maredia has been involved in the 3D industry for 8 years. It started as a hobby which quickly turned into a business in selling 3D Filaments. He started Cheap3dfilaments.com 3 years ago with the mission to deliver quality filaments at a reasonable price.
"Objects found in the Filament - Extruder nozzle continues to jam or not feed properly
Advice: If you have transparent filament, examine some of your prints for foreign objects or possible material found in the filament.
In the event the manufacturer is running different types of production with their machinery, the 3D filament from time to time will have other materials found in the filament.
In certain types of foods you will see the message, “May contain nuts” - this is because the manufacturer is running several different things through the same machinery. Although there is no fixes, we would recommend you exchange the filament for another spool."
16/ David Ellis - Owner of DNK Systems And Torwell Australia: Patience, It’s Simple, Powerful And Will Net Predictable Results Faster
With many years of involvement in cutting edge research and development projects, David has been in contact with leveraging the advantages of rapid prototyping for the last 20 years. As well, managing an award winning support team for CAD software experts Edge Australia David has trained many engineers in many aspects of CAD design and associated software. “Typically we only take on interesting projects, fame and fortune naaaa give us a challenge". Read more about DNK Systems and Torwell Australia.
"Patience, it’s simple, powerful and will net predictable results faster.
3D printing brings with it all the complexities of modern manufacturing. Applying a systematic calm approach to this process is key to creating expected outcomes. Every failure has a success and every success has a failure, so at the end of every print (failed or not) try to:
- Observe the results and find flaws.
- Create a hypothesis.
- Research the hypothesis.
- Adjust your settings.
- Retry and repeat.
In most cases you will learn much more than you expect. So when it all goes pear shaped, be patient, stop, calm down and think."
17/ Laura Taalman - James Madison University: Be Able To Use At Least A Little Bit Of A Lot Of Types Of 3D Design Software
Laura Taalman is a Professor of Mathematics at James Madison University whose research has included algebraic geometry, knot theory, and games. Dr. Taalman also publishes Calculus textbooks and Sudoku puzzle books, and blogs at Hacktastic and Shapeways Magazine. At JMU she is the founder of JMU 3SPACE, the first general education 3D printing classroom in the country. As "mathgrrl" she designs and shares hundreds of 3D models with the 3D printing community, and has worked with 3D printing companies Ultimaker, MakerBot, and Shapeways. Dr. Taalman is a Project NExT Fellow, a recipient of the Alder Award, Trevor Evans Award, and SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award, and has been featured on Thingiverse, Adafruit, and Science Friday.
"My pro tip is to be able to use at least a little bit of a lot of types of 3D design software, and learn what each type of software is good at doing.
That way you can pass a 3D design through a lot of different programs and leverage what each program is good at. For example, OpenSCAD is great for creating procedural, algorithmic patterns, and Meshmixer is a fantastic tool if you want to add color for multicolor printing or slice up large models to print piecewise.
I use Blender when I want to thicken an object, TopMod for making wireframes, and Grasshopper when I want to wrap one object around another. I've written a lot of tutorials that can help you learn how to get started with different design programs; you can find them at mathgrrl.com/hacktastic. "
18/George Wiman - College of Business at Illinois State University: Look Around For Real-World Problems To Solve, However Small They Might Be
Formerly service manager for three computer stores. He has been with the university since 2000, is on the tech support team at the College of Business at Illinois State University, and co-instructor of a new independent study class in 3D printing. He also support other business students who have 3D printing projects while learning about manufacturing and entrepreneurship.
"Technical tips aside, the one thing I tell my students is: Look around for real-world problems to solve, however small they might be.
It doesn’t have to be climate change or world hunger; start with a custom pencil holder for just that spot where people are always looking for a pencil.
Make a spacer that adjusts the latch in a bathroom stall. Make a bracket that allows you to tie down a stapler that gets stolen a lot.
That’ll jump-start a habit of constructive thinking."
19/ Matt Sand - 3DEO: Having A Complete Understanding Of The True Costs And Benefits Of Metal AM Is Crucial To Building A Winning Business Case
As an entrepreneur, investor, and professor, Matt has an extensive background in innovation and entrepreneurship. He is currently President of 3DEO, a technology company that has created a breakthrough metal 3D printing process. 3DEO sells complex, high-quality metal components to industrial customers. Learn more at http://www.3DEO.co.
"Risk abounds in metal 3D printing because it's so capital intensive. The million-dollar machine is just the beginning -- there are also many indirect costs that aren't widely discussed such as maintenance, surrounding infrastructure, and a talented engineering team.
Having a complete understanding of the true costs and benefits of metal AM is crucial to building a winning business case. Customers can build winning metal AM applications BEFORE making massive investments by working with a parts supplier like 3DEO.
We have already invested in the infrastructure and team and work with customers to build winning business cases."
20/ Nicolas Usuwiel - Unic-3D: Use Wood Filament For Great Smooth Surfaces
Nicolas Usuwiel is the founder of Unic-3D in Brussels, the first 3D printing concept store in the capital of Europe. His mission is to demonstrate how easy and affordable 3D printing really is. He helps companies (80%) and individuals (20%) to adopt this amazing tech. He sells only premium brands like Ultimaker, Formlabs, Zortrax and Raise3D but also provides services including 3D printing on demand, 3D scanning, modelling and training courses.
"Print faster by using large nozzles, reducing the infill percentage at maximum and printing thick layers". Most of the time we want to quickly validate a first prototype and we don't really need smooth surfaces. In order to save material and time, we use a 0,6 or 0,8mm nozzle, a layer height of 0,4mm and less than 10% infill. In order to close the top part of your print, you just need to print more top layers.
"Use wood filament for great smooth surfaces". Wood filament is magic. We use Unic-Wood from Unic-Filament when a customer wants to have the smoothest surface. Printing wood is as easy as printing PLA. (it is actually the same setting in your slicing software). It's always better to use a 0,6mm nozzle so the wood particles won't clog the nozzle and by selecting a 0,15mm layer thickness you'll get a beautiful surface without marks of layers.
21/ Josh Snider - MakerBot: Our Best, Actionable 3D Printed Tip Is To Optimize Model Orientation
Josh is former embassy analyst from DC and current marketing writer and strategist for MakerBot. He's borderline obsessed with 3D printing and is responsible for communicating the technology to both beginner and expert audiences at the same time. His favorite 3D prints are objects with "print in place" mechanics, Star Wars paraphernalia, and exotic composites like limestone or bronze.
"Our best, actionable 3D printed tip is to optimize model orientation.
Orienting your model properly on the build plate is critical to getting the desired result. It can affect surface quality, mechanical features, impact strength, supports, and even the print time of your model. Because 3D print preparation settings are a game of trade offs — "which surface do I want the best quality on" or "do I want dimensional accuracy or speed" — our best actionable tip is to learn how orientation affects those tradeoffs. A few easy ones to pick up are;
- vertical surfaces tend to the best resolution overall, while roofs and floors tend to look worse
- prints tend to fail along layer lines, so make sure any mechanical parts are oriented perpendicular to the force they need to resist
- orientations that occupy the least X-Y area will print the fastest, given the extruder has less net distance to travel
Learning these orientation tricks are just the beginning, but not matter how advanced a 3D printing nerd you are, it's absolutely critical to understand your goals for the object you're printing before picking settings and orientation. There are tons of great resources online, and the Thingiverse community have proven to be excellent teachers, but there's no substitute for experience. So play with some new orientations and fail, fail, succeed!"
22/ Arno Damerow - Lawrence University: Apply Painters Tape To The Platen
Arno has spent the last twenty years advocating innovative uses of technologies, new and old, in the advancement of learning and teaching in higher education. He has a BFA in Sculpting from the University of Minnesota.
"Applying painters tape to the platen can significantly improve a print’s first layer adhering properly. Hairspray works almost as well."
23/ Florian Reichle - Trinckle: 3D Printing Is Just A Production Method. All Your Intelligence Is In The Design
Florian Reichle is a business graduate. He studied Finance and Management at the Free University of Berlin and at the School of Economics and Management in Lund (Sweden). After his studies, he conducted research at the International Business School ESCP Europe. Together with leading German mechanical engineering companies they worked on the redesigning of value chains in the context of digitization. After stops in e-mobility and consulting, he founded the 3D printing company Trinckle 3D together with two PhD physicists in 2013. He is the managing director and is mainly responsible for finance and marketing.
"3D printing is just a production method. All your intelligence is in the design. So make sure you spend enough effort to have a great design and software handling it. We are happy to help you with that."
24/ Jérémie François - TecRD: Achieving The Best Quality Becomes Possible Only After Having The Machine Properly Set Up
Jérémie is a "professional maker". He often spends his time helping startups, or prototyping algorithms or sensors, or hiking in deserts. If we only try to focus on technical stuff, his never-ending curiosity ranges from machine learning (as a PhD) to machine code (as an engineer and a former demomaker). He only plays the Didgeridoo so-so. Oh, sorry, that was precisely not technical. Or is it? Read more about TecRD.
"Achieving the best quality becomes possible only after having the machine properly set up. Hence, simply start with a low expectation, and do not even try to print with a printer that is not square nor properly tightened in the first place. Always keep in mind that that one visible default is only rarely the effect of one single reason. And beware of many "improvements" that are not always good ideas (like constraining your top Z screw).
If I had only one "best" advice it would be to start printing a boring 20x20x5 mm cube, 100% infill, with "decent" filament diameter and 100% feedrate in the slicer, and low speed. Then from the live printing interface (one attached to a standalone printer is very useful), wait for 2-3 layers and start tweaking the feedrate very progressively until you get the best surface possible (no groves nor bumps -- if you are unsure, better use 1-2% less): excess is your enemy, and you will not be able to achieve proper printing without a proper feedrate. Change values slowly, by ~2%. Once done, report the final value in your slicer, and move to another parameter.
Do the same with other parameters (most notably, speed and layer heights): work slowly, making sure you get a good idea of the effect they have on the print, going a bit too far and retracting to a safer value before you move on. This way, you will acquire invaluable knowledge to guess the main causes of misprints."
25/ Nathan Jenkins - Nath042: Do Not Give Up Trying To Get Your Best Configuration
Nathan Jenkins is a 3D printing Youtuber with over 1000 subscribers. With a keen interest in technology and making things he started filming small projects and trying to teach people how to use 3D printers. The main series that he does on YouTube is called 3D Printing where he talks about 3D printing and helps with 3D printing related issues. Another series is 3D Showcase where he shows useful and interesting 3d printable objects. He has worked on a few small projects of his own, but has a main one that he is currently working on called Vigor Quest, a FREE 3D printable board game.
"Do not give up trying to get your best configuration.
There are loads of different ways in which you can learn how to configure your 3d printer to get the best results, some work, some do not.
It is best to make sure you document your incremental changes to see what does and doesn’t work, what I normally do is get a notebook and write down the different settings that I have tried and then re-print 3D Hub Marvin’s or 1cm Cubes until I get the desired effect, I put the physical prints onto the paper, so I can see the differences.
Afterwards I try some bigger and more intricate parts such as a Benchy or the CTRLV V3 to test other areas of the print."
26/ Shane Fuga - Fugatech 3D Printing: The First Layer Of Your Print Is Everything
Married for 8 years with 4.5 children. (.5 because they are expecting baby #5 this fall).
He is a full time Network Administrator and get to travel the world for my job.
He works full time weekends and evenings on his 3D Printing YouTube channel.
His favorite printer is the Folgertech FT-5
He likes to print models as big as he possibly can.
"The first layer of your print is everything. If you don't have a good first layer, your odds of having a successfully print are very low."
"Always test your filament for the optimal printing temperature. If you take the time to figure this out you will waste less filament on failed prints."
"Calibrate your printer! Take the time to properly calculate your X, Y and Z steps and you will have accurate and great looking prints."
Wow! What an amazing collection of useful advice.
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You might also be interested in this list of 3D printing blogs that give you the tools,
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