Introduction to 3d printing

Introduction to 3d printing

3D printing is still making headlines in the news; people printing limbs or guns, etc. but what about 3D printing at home? It is feasible and more importantly, is it affordable?

In this blog we explore 3D printing for the home and what you need to get started.

3D Printing: How does it work?

The way 3D printers work is by building (printing) an object layer by layer.  The design you send to the printer is analysed, broken down into layers and then the printer makes multiple passes to create the object; adding layer upon layer to create the finished product.  If you look at any object created by a 3D Printer, you can actually see the layers.

A number of different materials can be used to create your 3D object, including rubber, plastic, paper, metals, glass and chocolate! However most home printers use different forms and colours of plastic.

3D Printing: What can I print?

We have all heard on the news people printing limbs or life changing items with revolutionary 3D printers. Also the darker side like a working gun. Therefore anything is possible, but time, cost and the capability of your printer is paramount.

We have found some examples from the website “www.thingiverse.com”:

Ornamental Owls

Bracelet

Wine Glass Holder

iPhone Case

3D Printing: Ornamental Owls 3D Printing: Bracelet 3D Printing: Wine Glass Holder 3D Printing: iPhone Case

But of course you can create your own designs and print what you like.

3D Printing: What do I need?

Firstly you will need the printer. These can range in price, as you can imagine, but the basic entry levels can set you back about £700.

Vellman K8200Maplin sell the Velleman K8200 for £700 and replacement cartridges cost £29.99 each. Now this is for a true techy as you have to build it yourself. It also isn’t the most visually appealing 3D printer out there, looking more like a factory product.
You can see it here: www.maplin.co.uk/3d-printer
Cubify 3DThe Cubify 3D home printer is a great model to start with and is priced at approximately £1000. Each colour plastic cartridge costs £32 and you can easily make a purchase on their web site and see the costs.It also looks great and is compact.
You can see it here: www.cubify.com/en/Cube

3D Printing: Is that all I need?

No, you will also need some software to make your 3D designs. Most 3D printers come with free design software. There are other freebies out there and here are a couple worthy of a mention:

3D Printing: AutoDesk 123D AutoDesk 123D: A free package from the makers of AutoCad. Has lots of different applications within a suite of products. Commercial products are also available. Web: www.123dapp.com
3D Printing: Wings 3D Wings 3D: An open source package supported by a developer community. No animation is available but still worth checking out. Web: www.wings3d.com

3D Printing: Conclusion

3D printing has been around a while and is still tipped as the next big thing. However it hasn’t really become mainstream for home users and nobody is sure why that is. Maybe if the costs fall and the print speed improves it will be more popular. But there is no doubt is has its benefits in the commercial and medical industries and is a great for your home if you can afford it.