3D is a generally new practice as it was only created in the 1980s. It has been deemed as modern sculpture, allowing creators to print out their designs. Although 3D printing sounds easy enough, there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to this trade.
Learning the basics of 3D printing isn’t too difficult, although understanding all the different software and parts of a 3D printer can be strenuous. It can take months to understand how to use 3D printing and years to master, yet it is growing in popularity for hobbyists and innovators alike.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to 3D printing, so beginners need to understand what those factors may include.
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Best 3D Printers and Software for Beginners
There are numerous types of software for 3D printers, some being much too advanced for those beginning in the hobby. As the number of 3D printers increases, it can be difficult to decipher which 3D printers or software are the best for beginners.
Tinkercad is one of the best programs for beginners according to 3dprinting.com. The software has many tutorials that help amateurs navigate the innovative hobby. Tinkercad uses a “block-building concept” that makes it very user-friendly and easy to understand. The program is also free, making it perfect for those starting with 3D printing.
Blender is a popular software for 3D printing for its variety of features. It is also free of charge, making it a popular option for many hobbyists, whether they are amateurs or seasoned veterans. It has a steeper learning curve than Tinkercad and is ideal for creators that feel that they are ready to design more intricate items.
Blender is also known for how realistic its renderings are. This makes it easier for the creator to visualize their design before printing it out.
FreeCad has also been named as one of the best 3D printer software by 3dprinting.com. One of the best features of this program is that you can make an item of any size. The software also includes robotic simulations, and none of the design features are blocked by a paywall. FreeCad is also free software, so it is a program that beginners should consider looking into.
OpenSCAD is another free software that beginners should look into, especially if they are interested in programming. Rather than manipulating the shapes, the creator must enter codes in a script file to create their shapes and design. OpenSCAD also has a feature that allows the user to upload a 2D picture and then make it into a 3D creation.
With OpenSCAD’s strict programming features, it may be daunting for some users if they don’t know much about programming. Luckily, there are many other software options to choose from that allow creators to manipulate their rendering as much as desired.
Many more software programs are available for 3D printing. Take a look at 3dprinting.com for the wide variety of programs for 3D printing.
According to Best Reviews, 5 printers have been deemed as the very best in all of 2021.
|Printer||Price on Amazon.com||Where to Buy|
|Dremel DigiLab 3D45 3D Printer||$1,688 USD||Product Link|
|FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro||$549 USD||Product Link|
|Makerbot Replicator+ 3D Printer||$1,963.48 USD||Product Link|
|Silhouette America Alta 3D Printer||$199.99USD||Product Link|
|Ultimaker S5 3D Printer||$6,355 USD||Product Link|
The printer classified as “best of the best” is the Dremel DigiLab 3D45 3D Printer. It has been highly recommended by many experts and is known to be very dependable. It works with four different filament types. The Dremel is also known for being great at printing many parameters of designs with close attention to detail.
The only drawback to this printer is that it does not work properly without the official Dremel filaments. Other than this, the Dremel is a widely esteemed 3D printer that has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon with over 480 reviews.
The FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro was labeled as the “best bang for the buck” and is deemed as a customer favorite. It is known to be very reliable, stable, and produces high-quality work. FlashForge is also known to have great customer support with expert technicians via email. The price of this printer is better suited for smaller budgets that are beginning the hobby.
One complaint about this 3D printer is that it can be pretty difficult to set up. Thankfully, the online support team is easy to reach out to and can help anyone through the process.
Makerbot Replicator+ 3D Printer is one of the best options for beginners due to its user-friendly setup and companion software. One of the features that sets this apart from other 3D printers that are mentioned on this list are the cameras that monitor the progress of the item being printed. This is a great feature so that the user can be aware of whether or not the printer is working as expected.
Silhouette America Alta 3D Printer is a smaller 3D printer, but the price makes it great for beginners who are wanting to try out the hobby. Due to its small size, Silhouette America is known to print out objects quickly, but the 3D printer is limited to printing items at a maximum of 5 inches tall.
Out of all the 3D printers on this list, Ultimaker S5 3D Printer is known to create the largest scale and most detailed items. It also works with a wide variety of filaments. However, the price tag of $6,355 can be a major reason that people turn down this option.
Materials Needed for 3D Printers
Acquiring the necessary instruments for 3D printing is simple. Obviously, you will need a 3D printer. You will also need a computer that can hold 8 GB of memory and a fairly powerful CPU. The more memory you have and the better the CPU, the more ideal the user experience will be. It is also necessary to have access to the internet to download pre-designed 3D files if you will not be designing your own.
If you are not going to be designing on your own, websites such as Thingiverse, Cults3D, and Pinshape are a great way to help you find and share free 3D printing designs. These innovative websites can give anyone the spark that they need to start creating their own designs.
Along with the 3D printer, you may choose any type of material to design with. The most common material to use is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, also known as ABS. This may be the most common, but there are several materials that you can work with including, but not limited to:
- Carbon Fiber
- Polylactic Acid
To learn more about the materials used for 3D printing, Matter Hackers has a guide of all the different filaments that can be used for all types of 3D printing projects. Filaments are simply just the materials on a spool that are fed into the 3D printer that are then melted to create any type of design possible.
Before using any type of filaments on a 3D printer, be sure that it is compatible with the 3D printer.
Where Can I Learn More About 3D Printing?
Since 3D printing is relatively new, there aren’t any colleges that offer a degree in 3D printing specifically. However, some degrees can aid those who are interested in a potential career in 3D printing. To those who are solely interested in 3D printing as a hobby, there are free resources online that are a tremendous help to learn about additive manufacturing.
For informal education, there are hundreds of videos on YouTube that can aid you in any project with a 3D printer. Various creators such as Mike Boyd, Vision Miner, and 3D Now have a variety of tutorials for computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printers that can be especially helpful for beginners.
There are many websites such as matterhacker.com, ultimaker.com, and rigidink.com, just to name a few. There are also online classes offered by certified 3D printing experts on linkedin.com. With the many insights and tutorials offered for free online, it isn’t necessary to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in degrees relative to 3D printing.
However, for those who are interested in making a career out of this hobby, there are a wide variety of degrees that can lead to professions in 3D printing. Some of the best degrees that can aid 3D printing are:
- Art and Animation Design
- Software Development
To find more degrees, computerscience.org has a list of degrees that work with 3D printing.
2D Art versus 3D Printing
Before beginning 3D art, one should be proficient in creating two-dimensional art on programs such as Photoshop, MS Paint, and animating software. Having a basic understanding of the elements and principles of art can help any creator whether they lean more towards 3D or 2D design. However, 2D design is the best way for any artist to learn about these foundations before moving onto 3D designs.
Having this knowledge before 3D printing is crucial because it gives the creator a better understanding of how art and computer-aided design (CAD) works in general.
Learning how to use 2D software such as Builder, Slash, Crafter, and FreeCAD makes users more comfortable when it comes to making 3D creations. Of course, there is a steep learning curve when another dimension is added. 2D just uses a flat dimension only using the X and Y axes while 3D art adds the extra Z-axis.
3D Hobbies vs 3D Printing
Utilizing 2D software programs is not the only good prerequisite to learning 3D printing. Numerous amounts of hobbies require making art in three-dimensional shapes such as:
- Wood Working
- Model building
Understanding how to make three-dimensional objects can help designers understand what looks right and what works when making 3D renderings.
Although these three-dimensional trades are quite different from 3D printing, they can be a more affordable and easier route to take before jumping into 3D design. For example, a crochet hook can cost as little as $3 USD along with the necessary materials.
Model building is another popular and affordable hobby that requires kits or homemade parts to build small-scale buildings, homes, boats, etc. With a 3D printer, model builders can enjoy both hobbies by creating the parts needed for their models and the freedom to create their model however they would like with the use of a 3D printer.
Pottery and woodworking can be a bit pricier than other hobbies but can give a real-life experience of creating three-dimensional objects. These hobbies involve a lot of handy work, however, this can be an unexpected but necessary prerequisite for 3D printing, especially because 3D printers can be finicky and fail often.
The Future of 3D Printing
The industry of 3D printing is only going up.
“The 3D printing market… is estimated to reach USD 62.79 billion by 2028 and… a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 21.0% from 2021 to 2028.”Business Wire
3D printer manufacturing is making its way through all types of trades, from home décor to dentistry.
According to computerscience.org, there was a study done in 2014 which revealed that a majority (about 66%) of manufacturing companies are utilizing 3D printing in their business. 3D printers can create quick and easy prototypes for new inventions or they can create more affordable housing throughout the world.
The possibilities of 3D printing are endless and many companies such as Nike, Airbus, and Ford are beginning to employ more and more 3D printing machines. This saves the companies time and money as it requires fewer workers to build necessary parts.
The future of construction may even change due to the new 3D printers that have the capacity to build affordable homes. The company ICON has teamed with builders in Austin, Texas to create the latest technology in 3D printed homes. You can learn more about it on their website and take a look at this video to see how 3D printed homes work.
Not only is real estate going to be impacted by 3D printing, but the medical field is also already beginning to use the innovative technology in its practices. Dentists will be able to mill crowns and other dental materials in as little as 10 minutes with a 3D printer. Prosthesis and implant designers can also quickly create prosthetics that can suit their patients.
3D building is only in its beginning stages, and there is room for growth in this innovative technology.