It may not be a huge shock to most of you reading this, but 3D printing isn’t as easy as a lot of 3D printer manufacturers marketing departments like to pretend it is. From figuring out the correct printing temperatures to removing prints from the build plate to post processing to maintaining a working 3D printer, there is a level of nuance that is often left completely unsaid. While makers are often more than happy to explore new technology and work out the kinks on their own, not everyone is equipped to deal with technology that way. Not only does the lack of actual process information often leave many new adopters of 3D printing technology on their own to figure it out, but I feel like it actually harms the reputation of 3D printing.
Sometimes it is even worse when manufacturers do acknowledge the various difficulties and quirks of using a standard desktop 3D printer. It usually consists of a list of problems that they have conveniently created solutions, that cost money of course, to solve. It is as if a problem doesn’t exists unless someone working for a 3D printer company has developed a way to make money from it. But in reality 3D printing is really just a bunch of small problems, annoyances and downright aggravations that hopefully result in something cool made from plastic that wasn’t there a few hours previously. Most makers would probably say that the results far outweigh any difficulties, but I can’t help but feel like 3D printing would be a lot more user friendly if manufacturers were more upfront with how everything works, not just their printers.
Thankfully I’m not the only person who thinks that there need to be more resources available for new 3D printer users. Australian blogger, maker and molecular ecology PhD candidate Desi Quintans clearly feels the pain associated with being a first time owner because when he got his first printer he never managed to find a list of tools and consumables that he would need to get started. Any lists that he did find wouldn’t really offer any specific details about why and when a tool or product would be useful, so he ended up buying a lot of things that he didn’t need. Now that he’s a more experienced 3D printer user he’s taken it on himself to assemble a list of the essential tools and products that he uses almost every time that he works with his 3D printer.
“So your first 3D printer is on its way (congratulations!) and you want to be ready to start printing right away. When I first started I couldn’t find a shopping list of tools and consumables that went into useful detail, so I ended up buying stuff that I didn’t really need,” Quintans begins. “Well let’s fix that.”
Naturally the list contains the usual suspects like the ubiquitous roll of blue painters tape to help with bed adhesion. But even when mentioning something this commonly used Quintans makes sure to point out that the tape doesn’t need to be changed after every print, something that I have heard a few people shocked to find out as they had been changing tape after every print. He also goes over his basic process of using blue tape, and offers reasons why he uses the method that he does. And he is just as thorough with all of his suggested tools and consumables, so while this list might ostensibly be aimed at new 3D printer owners, it is bound to have a few great tips and tricks for almost everyone.
Quintans’ list includes a shopping list for just about every step of successful 3D printing. From the different scrapers that are useful for removing prints from the printing surface to the various tools that are helpful with designing new objects, his list covers it all — and even prices it out (in AUD). Categories covered include Bed Adhesion, Removing Prints from Bed, Measuring and Designing, Maintenance, and Post-Processing tools. His suggested post-processing tools list is especially comprehensive, as working with plastics can often be tricky, especially if someone is looking to smooth the surface of the print. You can read the entire list of tools and consumables that Quintans suggests a new 3D printer owner purchases here. Let us know which tools you use in the 3D Printing Tools forum thread on 3DPB.com.