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Thinking of getting into 3d printing, but...

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JV 144 6 Star
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Thinking of getting into 3d printing, but...


Post by TonyG2 »

Ok I've been giving serious thought to 3d printing. What had been holding me back had been
1. Price of printers and
2. Lack of expertise in design

I've recently seen ads for printers that come in circa £200 (saw one on YouTube for around £60.00 but it seemed very flimsy)

Also seen a number of sites where 3d files can be downloaded either free or at very low cost.

That seems to address my initial concerns. My intended first project is a Star Trek design to 1/2500 scale (yep, loving the small scales) and I understand the final size of the print can be set so you can calculate and determine the scale.

What I am still unsure over is what software you need to run the printer and make any alterations, such as size or splitting the model into sections. Does that usually come supplied with the printer?

The brand I'm considering is the Creality Ender 3 but after some research I'm still in the dark about the software angle.

Anyone have thoughts on this?

If I can get it working and could find suitable files, I would branch out into aircraft, vehicles and ships etc but at present it's all very much speculative.

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Leo - zd
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Re: Thinking of getting into 3d printing, but...


Post by Leo - zd »

I do a little bit of 3D design but I'm not an expert on printers although to optimize the results I communicated a lot with the people who printed for me to align and get the best possible result.
As my goal was to get the finest possible details, recesses, protrusions, panels, the minimum dimension of the print was always 0.1 mm.
They explained to me that for that you need to have a printer with a resolution that is at least 3-4 times smaller than the minimum dimension, that the optimal resolution of the printer would be 0.025 mm, and as far as I know this is only feasible with resin printers.
I think that this type of printer is needed for useful printing in modeling, where the highest possible level of detail is required.

Another problem, in my opinion more serious, are the files or drafts that you want to print.
Printing and drawing are demanding and expensive. What is free and available are mostly simple models, either without detail or relative accuracy.
And not even the best and most accurate printer can print something that is not given to it.
A good and detailed STL file needs good drawings and references and a lot of work.
Since there are a bunch of print services today, it seems to me that it is more important to make a good draft, adapted to the scale and the printer.
It is also an important scale, unlike all other electronic drawings in various CAD programs where it is irrelevant whether the unit is mm or km long, the scale of the drawings is important for printing.
Of course, if the STL file is 1/72 scale and well and precisely made, it is possible to print in 1/35 or 1/144, although there will be rougher details or loss of the same.
Namely, the printer does not know the lines, the line of the panel means nothing to the printer, for the printer the line of the panel must be at least 0.1 mm wide and 0.1 mm deep.
And now if it's on STL at 1: 100 and I want to print at 1:10 it will become 1 mm deep and wide, and if we want to print at 1: 1000 it will become 0.01 mm or disappear because it's even less than the minimum print layer.

My advice is that if you are interested in subjects that are not on the market or are of very poor quality, throw yourself into designing, because buying models, especially styrene, are several times cheaper than quality 3D prints.

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Re: Thinking of getting into 3d printing, but...


Post by glehn »


There are different types of printers but the accessible home printers are either FDM (the ones that print with plastic filaments) and resin printers. If you want high definition of small details, I would recommend a resin printer.
As far as I know, the Ender 3 is FDM and not resin. You should take a look at the Anycubic Photon (which is the one I have), the Elegoo Mars or similar printers. Pricewise they are in the same range, I believe.

The printers come with a software (called slicer) that allows you to prepare a file for printing (positioning, scaling, adding supports and slicing the file with the parameters you choose). Or you can download other slicers. I like Chitubox, which come with some additional functions.
If the files are ok, this software should be enough. But as Leo mentioned, many times this is not the case and you may need or want to make changes to the 3D model, and for this you will need another type of software and some skills.

I prefer to model everything from scratch using a 3D CAD software (I currently use Fusion 360). I have been doing it for many years and I was really happy to have Shapeways printing my models for me up until when their prices went crazy. I then bought my own resin printer, but I really find the printing at home process very messy and frustrating some times. It is definately not like a laser or inkjet printer yet (although those can also be frustrating at times).

I would recommend learning a 3D CAD. I like Fusion 360 and it is free for hobbyists or personal use. Blender is another interesting software that is widely used for 3D Printing but is aimed more towards a different kind of modeling than Fusion 360, being better for things like characters and figures, in my opinion.


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