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6 Things to know before starting to do 3D printing

Since few years now, 3D printers become accessible for personal use, 3D printers you can have in your home, you’d buy if you’re kind of a geek, IT fan, gadget guy or for educational purpose.
For me, it’s pretty clear. I’m quite a 3D nerd and I love to concept objects on my computer since I always dreamed to be an industrial designer. I never though that 3D printing is a alternative I could be able to reach.

But since we’ve got one at my office, I really asked myself about the orientation of my work as a 3D artist. The market is overloaded to work in movies studios, games studios. Even if the feedbacks on my work are positive, there are some positions but every time, to many candidates. As told recently, I followed the advise of some friends and I decided to mount my own 3D printer to bring my career into it. It’s quite a challenge, but I’m ready for it.

But you guys  might think of getting one. Some students were quite interested to buy one but after seeing me tinkering the Ultimaker 2 to clean it, to fixed it, etc, they started to thing it’s might not a good idea after all.

First things to know is :

1. 3D Printing is hard

Yes it is. Things seem really easy. Just press “print” and here we go. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

3D Printers are all different. Most of them share the same process but from Ultimaker to a MakerBot, I believe the functioning is similar but each has their own specificities. There are different ways to set the printer up from a model to another. Remember this technology had to grow up.
As far as I observe, Ultimaker is quite open to the feedbacks and I understood they asked their users to see what to improve on the Ultimaker Original in order to do the Ultimaker 2.

But don’t think a 3D printer will work like a paper printer. You had to understand how it works, which filament to use, how to set up the printer according to the filament, how to clean it, etc.

2. Choose your 3D printer

It’s pointless to say “yeah, I’ll buy the first 3D printer I see youhou!” There is a large choice now and you need to study what printer you need, the one which will answer to your needs.

It’s funny because I was thinking doing this post when I started the blog. I was asking myself “what should I write today?” This morning, I saw this video from Brook Drumm from Printrbot :

This is a question you have to ask yourself first : kit or assembled printer? Here at 3diy.fr, I will mount my own printer, but I do it at my own risk.
For educational purpose, it can be interesting to build a kit like the on Lewihe proposes. Buying a kit, it might be more cheap, but the money you save is time you “lose” mounting it. Also, don’t start 3D printing with this, because, as Brook said in the video, you don’t know anything about it. That’s not a big deal, there’s no arm in it, but don’t try the kit yet or you might be disappointed.

But ask yourself :

3. Why do you need a 3D printer for?

If you want to hit on girls with a 3D printer, you better follow me to build a transportable 3D printer ;). But more seriously, why do you need a 3D printer? This is the first question you should ask yourself. Actually, you can ask yourself this question every time you are buying something since we are in a over-consumption society.

Don’t buy it because it’s cool, buy it because it’s useful. 3D printers is really nice to do prototyping, conceptions, etc. If you are a 3D modeller and you need to print your objects also. It can be useful to fix something, but once again, you might need some 3D modelling skills.

I don’t believe it’s a gadget. For me, it’s more a tool to end my process of creation.
Don’t be seduce by the fact, some printers can print chocolate or food. It’s not for everyone yet, but it’s more for some professionals such as chocolatiers, or maybe confectioners. It will be useless on a general market, because it’s faster for me to eat straight away the materials than way 6 hours to have a beautiful chocolate.

4. 3D Print is long

Maybe you already saw this video :

This is a new method of 3D printing, but it’s not available yet and engineers are still working on it. We can hope to find this one around 2016. But for the moment, 3D printing is quite long. I started to print something today. It’s a 14 cm high tube and I’ve got 16 hours of printing.

So if you think you will print a Iron Man figurine as quick as you print with a paper printer, I’m sorry but you will had to wait a little bit.

5. Don’t worry to fail

Ok! You received your printer! Don’t expect doing amazing things with it. It’s like when you’re waiting for an answer for a job. If you think about a “yes” and it’s an unfortunate “no”, you’d be sad. It’s the same here. It doesn’t mean you won’t succeed to do great stuff, but if first prints don’t work as expected  (nozzle get clogged, you’ve got some under-extrusion, etc.), don’t be discouraged. You need to meet this problems, not because I’m enjoying you being in trouble, but because I want you to sort them out. Sooner or later, it will happen. It doesn’t mean the printer is broken, but it need to be fixed or clean.

So get ready to learn about 3D printing, to learn how to find a solution on Internet. This is why is made this blog though.

6. Be handy

I told you before : I’m not a handy man, or an electronic expert. But what the deuce, nevermind, I decided to do it. There are plenty of videos on Internet with all the instructions to improve your machine. Just follow them. Mount and unmount it, that’s the best way to learn how you printer works.

This is something you had to go though because you’ll need to clean the nozzle, remove the dust from grinding, etc. So don’t be afraid to use tools to improve your prints.

So those are 6 tips before starting doing 3D printing.  This is according to my experience. I’m doing this since about a year now. It’s fascinating, but it’s not a easy thing. I hope this will help beginners to make a decision. It’s not easy but I believe it’s worth the effort. I also hope experts will recognize themselves in this posts when then started 3D Printing.


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