The 3D printing process has several steps: design, slicing, and printing. Review those here.
- [Instructor] 3D printing is not a terribly complicated process, but it does have a few major steps. First, you need to create a three dimensional model of the object you want to print with a Computer Aided Design or CAD software package. The output of this step is in a file format called STL. Some programs also accept OPJ, AMF, or 3MF files. Then, since 3D printers lay up one layer of a piece at a time, you need to take that file and slice it into layers, and also translate it into commands for the printer to use to create the object. For most printers, this process results in a file in a format called G-code. Finally, you need to load the G-code or equivalent file onto your printer, so it can make your print. However, some 3D printers have their own format, such as older Maker Box and their clones, which use a format called X3G. Still others may hide this intermediate format from the user entirely, and will only transmit these instructions directly to the machine over USB, from a computer running their proprietary software. - [Instructor] 3D printers start their print on an empty platform, and then build up the print on it layer by layer. 3D prints take a while to create, usually hours, and often days, since they build up very fine layers one atop the other. Here, you can see what a print looks like partway through. Unlike mills and other traditional tools, a 3D printer does not cut away any material during its process. The type of 3D printer we're talking about in this course uses a raw material called filament, which it melts and deposits with a heated nozzle. The best analogy for this type of 3D printer is to think of it as a motorized hot glue gun. Filaments can be made of various types of plastic, most commonly PLA, PETG, or ABS. Filament usually comes in one kilogram spools like this one. Printers use filament either 1.75 millimeter, or 3 millimeters in diameter. - [Instructor] Since a 3D print builds up from the bottom a layer at a time, a piece that sticks out or overhangs is a problem. For example, this part of an F was printed up a layer at a time, and if support material, the material filling the F, was not there, the short end of the F would have fallen down when it was printed in thin air. Normally, we would have just printed the F flat on the printer to avoid needing support, but we did it this way to make a point. The 3D printing process can seem complicated, and in this course we'll go into depth about some of the things you can manage and tweak to give you the best possible print without making it too complex.
- 3D printing: An overview
- Popular slicing and host programs
- Achieving the best print quality
- Printing hollow and solid components
- Adjusting slicer settings
- Making prints stick to the printer bed
- Adjusting thickness
- Setting printer temperature and speed
- Working with multiple extruders
- Using G-code