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.

Types of 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

1/ MyMiniFactory  2/ Cults

3/ Thingyverse    4/ CGTrader

5/ Free3D              6/ Pinshape

7/ 3DShook           8/ Youmagine

9/ xyzPrinting       10/ 3D Export

11/ TurboSquid      12/ Gambody     

13/ Zortax Library  14/ Artec 3D 

15/  3DSky               16/ HUM3D-paid

17/ Cuberbrush     18/ Threeding 

19/ Reables            20/ Yeggi

21/ Sketchfab         22/ .STL Finder

23/ Freedees          24/  Niko Ind

24/ Repah              25/ 3D Warehse

26/ Instructables    27/ Fabbly                    

Slicer software

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

Design Software

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. 

RESINS:

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

FDM(FILAMENT)

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

Manufacturers

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.

Review here

Elegoo Resin Printers: Mars Series: Great value. Good after-sales

Review Here

Elegoo: Saturn Series LCD: Great intermediate machine

Review Here

Anycubic Resin Printers: Photon Series. Great machines and helpful service

Review here

Anycubic FDM: Mega series: Reliable workhorses

Review here

Creality FDM: Ender and CR Series. Great machines and pretty reliable

Ender 3 Review here     CR10 Review here

Creality: LD-002 Resin. I do not have one (yet) but I hear they are good machines and work well

Review here

Geeetech FDM A10T: Various models and sizes available

Review here