Hobbies A Beginners Guide to 3D Printing

Published on September 17th, 2018 | by Sam Rose


A Beginners Guide to 3D Printing

If you’ve heard of 3D printing but aren’t sure what it is, then this guide will provide you with all the information you need!

You may not realise it, but 3D printing has been around for quite a long time. The very first 3D printer available commercially was invented in 1984. It’s inventor, Charles Hull, also went on to found the 3D printing company, 3D Systems. It’s also referred to as additive manufacturing, but it’s more modern and commonly used name is 3D printing. So how does it work?

What is 3D Printing?

3D Printing is the technique of turning digital 3D models into solid objects. It does this through the use of layers. As it was originally invented in the 1980’s, it has been used mainly for rapid prototyping. But over the last few years, it has begun to evolve into something much more exciting and promising. Many companies are now using 3D printing in their manufacturing processes. This has created the potential for localized and on-demand printing of parts and objects. In fact, many businesses are now using 3D Printing to create unique and innovative designs, such as vehicle parts, ceramics and more.

How Does It Work?

To explain 3D printing simply, it all starts with a design created on your computer. Using specialist software, you create a 3D design or a 3D model. Once you are happy with your design, you link up your computer to a 3D printer. Once connected, you select the option to print on your computer. Then, much like a regular printer, you sit and wait whilst your design prints. Your object starts in several different, small slices, which the 3D printer then combines from the bottom-up to form a solid object. You can get a bit more technical with understanding exactly the process behind 3D printing. However, it’s best to think of it like making a loaf of sliced bread, but in reverse.

3D Printing Diagram

Image Credit: Winnipeg Free Press

What Can I Create Using 3D Printing?

3D printing has a variety of uses for both businesses and for in the home too. For businesses, it creates a whole world of different opportunities for manufacturing and product development. 3D printing comes into great use for customization. If you need to create a cheap prototype of something, you could produce a 3D printed model of it with ease, without the need of extra material costs. If you run a small business or a business which specializes in provided unique items, this is where 3D printing can also come into great use. 3D printing is great for producing ‘one-off’ products and custom creations which you can edit to your liking. 3D printed objects can often provide a ‘wow factor’ and make you stand out from other companies and businesses in your niche.

When in the home, 3D printing provides the advantage of on-demand object creation. If you happen to have any mishaps or accidents in the home which might end up breaking something, then there’s a good chance 3D printing can solve it. For example, if a door handle happens to fall off a door in the house, you can find a 3D model of a new one using the internet. When you’ve found the right design, you can print it there and then, saving you a trip to the shops to replace it.

What Does a 3D Printer Use to Print?

Whilst we made a comparison earlier to traditional inkjet and laser printers, 3D printers rely on something different to ink to create 3D print outs. Instead of using ink to print onto a page, 3D printers will use something called plastic filament. These filaments come in a variety of colours but are important in making sure a 3D printer can print objects. The filament is inserted into a 3D printer, of which it then is extruded through a tiny nozzle which moves under the control of a computer. The molten plastic this then creates prints layer upon layer, before producing a final 3D model out of a stronger plastic. Depending on what filament you use determines the colour your final print will be, but once you master the basics, you can change its colour after the printing stage.

3D Printing Filament Reels

How Much Does a 3D Printer Cost?

If you are interested in 3D printing, you’ll need to know how much your 3D printer and the filaments it runs on will cost. On average, a 3D printer is likely to cost upwards of £1,500 dependent on the size you require. For the filaments, these will often start at £20 on average. Whilst the entry price may at first seem steep, 3D printing can more than make back it’s worth. For businesses looking to use the technology, mastering the process can help you gain an extra edge when it comes to manufacturing. 3D printed objects are highly sought after too, so for small businesses who create ornaments or furniture, 3D printing can help provide a great source of income and make the initial cost seem small in comparison.

Feeling motivated to begin your journey into the 3D printing world? Here at the Post Office Shop, we have everything you’ll need to get started! Whether you’re using it for your business or just for the home, the ST3DI Green/White ModelSmart Pro 200 is a desktop 3D printer that provides a seamless and trouble-free 3D printing experience. When it comes time to stock up on your 3D printer filaments, we have filament reels available in an assortment of colours, ensuring you’re never short of materials when creating your 3D prints.

3D Printer3D Printing Filament

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