|If you're new around here, welcome! We thought we'd put a few links together to springboard your foray into the fabulous (and sometimes frustrating!) world of 3D printing. :)|
|If you are contributing to this wiki please keep this page incredibly concise and extremely high level, keep further detail for the Detailed Info pages.|
Why 3D Printing?
3D printing (a.k.a Additive Manufacturing) is now pretty well established in industry as a prototyping tool, and is becoming more common as a process for creating finished custom or low-run parts.
In the home, printers can be a marvelous tool for solving practical household problems for example by repairing items, or creating new items that are fully customised for their position or use case. They also can be used for fun, and are popular for making tabletop gaming minis, and toys.
For inspiration browse the top posts of this subreddit.
Getting started with 3D Printing
The various types of 3D printing technologies all create real-world three-dimensional objects from digital models via the addition of material. These processes are able to produce novel structures that other manufacturing techniques cannot. Usually the 3D printing process looks like this:
Get a digital 3D model (by downloading or making one)
Slice it (use a program to generate instructions for the printer)
Print it (and troubleshoot it)
Post-process it (remove support material, clean up areas, paint etc)
Where to get a model printed
If you don't want to buy a printer (and you just want to have something printed), you can engage the help of a 3D printing service. Some popular choices include:
For a full list of service-providers (including design and model hosting services), please see the Services page.
What printer to get
If you're totally new to printing, the best place to ask for help when deciding what printer is right for you is our stickied monthly Purchase Advice Megathread.
Generally personal printers come in two main categories;
FDM (FFM) printers are best suited to larger objects and functional parts and work a bit like a like a hot glue gun that moves around, extruding plastic filament and building up an object layer by layer.
DLP (Layer Masking) printers are best suited to extremely detailed prints, and use light to cure resin in layers, masking it with an LCD screen.
There are, however, many other types of 3D printing technologies, which are explained here.
Where to find models
If you don't want to make your own models to print, there are many sites that host models for download. The more popular ones are:
Printables: upcoming and community-focused, feature-rich
Thingiverse: biggest model host, often buggy
Thangs: free models, which can be searched by geometry
My Mini Factory: free and paid models, guaranteed to print
GrabCad: functional/ technical models
YouMagine: Open source models
pinshape: free and paid models
yeggi: 3D model aggregator/search
CGTrader: free and paid models, not all of them made to be printed
A community-curated list of model host services can also be found on the services page.
When selecting a model you need to ensure they are manifold, here's an explanation of what that means and guide on fixing them. You can also try these free, automated services; Netfab, and Microsoft's tool
When you are just starting out with FDM 3D printing PLA is the recommended choice. It's very easy to work, relatively strong, with and comes without many of the safety concerns of other materials. A deeper discussion of materials can be found here.
If you are starting on a resin printer, check out our Resin Info page.
Slicing software takes a 3d model and turns it into instructions for the 3D printer. The instructions are generally exported in GCode which essentially is a list of locations to move to, amount of filament to extrude, etc.
The popular choices for slicing software are:
There are, however, many other options, most of which are discussed here
Be sure to check the layer preview to see if it makes sense in your slicer before printing (no unsupported overhangs, no parts missing, etc). More info on the Slicers Page
Printing and Troubleshooting
Follow your manufacturer's instructions in setting up your printer and starting your first print. It's a good idea to print a test print first (usually printers come with one).
If it succeeds congrats on your first print! You can now start slicing and printing your own models or some calibration prints
If your print fails you can begin troubleshooting.
This video helps you get to know the parts of your machine, so you know what we're talking about! :)
By far the most common reason for prints failing is an issue with levelling/tramming:
Full-resolution printable copy can be found here.
Once you have your prints sticking and printing, these guides can help you identify and solve any other issues you're experiencing:
A Printa Pro PrintaGuide
Matterhackers Troubleshooting Guide
Simplify 3D Visual Troubleshooting Guide
Ultimaker Visual Troubleshooting Guide
It's also worthwhile seeking information from the manufacturer of your machine.
If the above suggestions don't solve your issue then it's time to seek help from the community:
This video is a great overview on how to seek help with prints.
- A highly descriptive title (even if you don't know exactly what everything is officially called, please do your best to describe the issue in plain English. This not only helps you get the help you want, but also helps the rest of the community by keeping the sub searchable, so others can benefit from the help you receive.)
- Photos of the issue, screengrabs of the layer view in your slicer, screengrabs of the model itself.
- A description of what the machine was doing as it produced this issue.
- Your basic settings such as: nozzle and bed temperature, speed, nozzle/line width and later height, the printer you're using and the material you're printing in. Or better yet, a screengrab or an export of your settings (you can upload files free without an account here)
- Any other information you think could be relevant such as modifications or hypotheses.
Most prints need some work after they come off the printer to turn them into a finished part. Supports need to be removed, and surfaced may need to be smoothed. Here are some tutorials:
More info on the Post Processing page
How to make models
Can't find what you want online? Why not design and make it? Model-making software is split into 4 main categories, depending on your goal:
Full-resolution, printable copy here
These are just the top picks, model making is discussed in more depth on the Making Models page
/u/Devtholt keeps a Multireddit of all 3d printing subreddits including some specifically for help, or tailored to certain printers or printer manufacturers. Also has some subs that are related to 3D printing peripherally, such as /r/lasercutting and /r/CNC
3D Printers Discord great platform for troubleshooting and socialising.