3D Printing as a Hobby for Beginners
3D printing is rising in popularity very fast mainly because of the stuff that you can do with it: printing anything that you can imagine. Perhaps a time will come when we can print almost anything we need: from your daily kitchen utensils or a working heart. Well, we’re not yet capable of doing the latter, but the current state of 3D printing technology allows us to do a lot of practical things like, yes, printing kitchen utensils, guitar replacement parts, lampshade, computer casing, or that one anime figure that you’ve always wanted. Anyways, I’m pretty sure that you are very interested in starting your hobby in 3D printing, so let’s get started.
What is 3D Printing?
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a process in which 3D computer generated models are printed as a functional object in real life. In other words, get a 3D model on a computer, open your 3D printer, connect it to your PC and print! Just like how you print your documents and images!
Most 3D printers use a process called Fused Filament Fabrication or Fused Deposition Modeling. These kinds of printers build an object layer by layer until the final product is done. There is also a method called SLA or Stereolithography, it also prints items using the same method as FDM or FFF, but the end results usually look better.
Things You Need to Know
In order to become a true 3D printer hobbyist, you need to know how 3D printing works. In this section, we are going to expand the different between FDM/FFF and SLA and also, we’re going to see how to choose 3D printers, how to use 3D printers and the materials needed to start printing.
FDM/FFF vs SLA
In reality, choosing what kind of technology to use depends on your end goal. Typically, FDM/FFF technology prints faster, but it prints lower resolution products. SLA, on the other hand, produces more complex ones, smoother appearance, but they are sensitive to long exposure to UV light.
· Low cost
· High accuracy
· Smooth end product
· Better looking
· Perfect for functional applications
· Low accuracy, low resolution
· Low details
· Limited design
· Not as durable as FDM
· Sensitive to UV light, so outdoor products is a no-no to 3D print using this technology
For a beginner, FDM technology is actually better. You will be able to play with 3D printing, and you’ll be able to see what kind of products it can print. In addition to that, it’s much cheaper in terms of equipment and materials as well as operating costs.
The Things You’ll Need
3D Printer. There are many kinds of 3D printer available ranging from $500 to $5000 each. The most common types of 3D printers are FDM printers and SLA printers. I am using an FDM printer as it is cheaper and can build simple objects very fast.
3D Model. To get started in 3D printing, you need, of course, a 3D printer and a computer. If you have or know CAD or 3D modeling, then you can easily create your own design to print. You can create your own custom webcam mount, guitar picks, even keyboard button, the sky is the limit! But even if you don’t know how to create 3D models, you can still print a lot of different kinds of stuff by downloading them online. Websites like Things Verse allows you to download an STL file (this is the file type that can be printed) and print it! It’s like downloading things online.
Materials. Choosing your materials is one of the important parts of 3D printing. Some materials can only be used by a certain type of printer. As for my 3D printer, I need PLA filaments which I can order online by ordering from 3D Printing Canada. This kind of filament is perfect if you want to have a durable 3D printed object. They can also create objects that look and feels very close to the original.
And that’s it! From here, you can scour the internet for 3D models or you can create your own. I recommend that you read further about the history of 3D printers as well as more information about how 3D printing works to familiarize yourself even further with the subject.