Many people view 3D printing as complicated wizardry, but it’s actually a simple process. The printer uses a thermoplastic cord that’s melted and quickly cooled to form shapes and build layers, until your desired object is created. Here’s a quick guide to get you started – no magic wand needed.
Choose Your Machine
While the most common 3D printers use thermoplastic filament, there are several other materials to choose from – including metal, ceramic, and even chocolate. Depending on what type of projects you want to create, you’ll need to select the appropriate machine. Take a look at this epic confectionary dream machine for making chocolate 3D prints and this basic polylactic acid (PLA) filament machine.
Using 3D Model Software
In order to 3D print, you have to create the design first. You’ll need to use a modeling software or computer-aided design software (CAD) to make your blueprint. Learning the software and designing models is the most complicated part of the process and can come with a lot of trial and error. A great tool for beginners is the software Tinkercad, which is designed for people who don’t have experience with CAD.
You can also search and download from a large selection of stock designs, with a variety of free and paid options available. This allows you to download a model someone else on the web designed and get printing right away. Try Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory, and Cults 3D.
Once you get the hang of printing, you’re in business! Possibly literally. As you learn more about the endless things you can do with 3D printing, you can start experimenting and branching out. From clocks to footballs to a bicycle frame, there are so many useful things to consider creating. You can even 3D print pasta, or experiment with full meals to eliminate the need for traditional style cooking (and you wouldn’t be the first).
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