What is 3D Printing
3d printing is a really cool technology that’s easy to understand and use.
I am no 3D printing expert but I have found some online resources that I think you will find helpful even if you are experienced in all the various 3D formats including slicer software.
There is a lot to learn – how much is up to you and what you want to do with the knowledge you gain. So let’s get to it:-)
Types of 3D printing
You may or may not know there are 8 different types of 3D Printing. Each one being developed for a particular need but all sharing the same concepts. Each of them has pros and cons but ultimately it boils down to what the consumers want as to which type of printer is suitable for their needs and other factors such as size, cost, resin, filament, customer service and ease of use will also play a major role in any final decisions to buy a particular printer.
DMLS – or Direct Metal Laser Sintering. This is metal 3D Printing technology. The lasers are used to melt metal powder which is then used by the printer to print metal parts
FDM – This is the current mainstay for most consumers. FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling is the most common and accessible type of printer for anyone thinking about learning to do 3D printing.
SLA and DLP – (Stereolithography)- these printers use liquid resin which is cured by ultraviolet light and the liquid hardens. Models are built up in layers of 0.05microns and when complete the model is washed in 70% alcohol and further cured in ultraviolet light or left outside in the sun to fully cure. Many medical devices are produced the way as is custom jewelry.
PolyJet – this technology has been around for over 20 years and very similar to inkjet printers. It allows full colour 3D printing and is suited for mass production.
EMB – or Electron Beam Melting uses an electron beam to fuse metal particles to create the desired part layer by layer.
SLS – Selective Laser Sintering. is an additive manufacturing technology that uses high-power lasers to sinter small particles of polymer powder into a solid structure based on a 3D model.
MJS – Multi Jet Fusion Printing. Using nylon powder these printers use fusing agents and is more predictable and consistent than laser 3D printers
Below you will find links to manufactures, STL file companies, Software e.g. Slicers, CAD design an more.
What is an .STL file
.STL files are smart file extensions and they convert complex 3D models into a ton of triangles so it can be turned into a mesh that slicer software can understand and use.
Obtain downloadable .stl files for any of the suppliers below -paid or free
You will require Slicer Software in order for you to get the ‘Gcode’ necessary for your printer to understand what to print. Listed below are some the slicing software suppliers-
1/ PrusaSlicer – FREE – Windows, Mac, Linux
2/ Chitubox – FREE – Windows, Mac, Linux
3/ Lychee – PAID – Windows, MacOS Linux
4/ Netfabb – Paid standard Windows
5/ Simplify3D – $150 Windows, Mac
6/ Slic3r FREE – Advanced users Window, Mac, Linux
7/ CURA – Beginners to advanced Free ( paid version available ) Windows, Mac, Linux
8/ Ideamaker – FREE Windows, Mac, Linux
9/ MakerBot Print – FREE Beginners Windows, Mac
10/ Pathio – FREE whilst in BETA Windows, Mac, Linux
11/ SuperSlicer – FREE Windows, MacOS, Linux
Resins and Filament
If you intend on learning to design and print your own models I have listed some of the many FREE software downloads below. There are many more out there both paid and free – a good web search will discover them all:-)
1/ Meshmixer – FREE Windows, MacOS, Linux
2/ Blender – FREE Windows 10, 8, 7
3/ Fusion 360 – FREE for personal or hobby use for 12 months – limited functionality
4/ FreeCad– FREE Windows, MacOS, Linux
5/ TinkerCad – FREE Windows, MacOS
6/ Autodesk 123D Design – FREE -Greatfor beginners Windows, MacOS
7/ zBrushMini FREE Windows, MacOS
8/ 3DBuilder (Microsoft) FREE Windows
Check out Techwhoop for more
There are Pleeeennnty of resins and Filaments out there for your FDM and Resin printers. I am listing only a few below as these are the ones I have had the most success with.
1/ Elegoo – Standard and Waterwashable
2/ Epax – Hard, Dental, General Purpose, Rapid, Water washable, Porcelain, High Temperature, Castable, High Precision
3/ Prusa – Tough, Casting, Flexible
4/ Anycubic – Plant-based, Casting, Standard, Dental(non-casting)
5/ Geeetech – Water washable
1/ Prusa – ABS, PLA, PETG, Flex, Special, Prusament – lots of colours to choose from
2/ Anycubic – PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG, Metal
3/ Geeetech – PLA, ABS, PETG
4/ SUNLU – PLA, PETG
Prusa Printers– One of the best manufacturers of 3D FDM and Resin printer manufacturers. Not as cheap as some but still great value for money and after-sales service is good.
Elegoo Resin Printers: Mars Series: Great value. Good after-sales
Elegoo: Saturn Series LCD: Great intermediate machine
Anycubic Resin Printers: Photon Series. Great machines and helpful service
Anycubic FDM: Mega series: Reliable workhorses
Creality: LD-002 Resin. I do not have one (yet) but I hear they are good machines and work well
Geeetech FDM A10T: Various models and sizes available