So you have your first 3D printing project in mind.  Kudos!  We can think of that as a first step towards success.  But nothing gets done until it is done.  You are probably there sitting with nothing in your hands.

But do not fear.  All you need at this point is some willpower and determination.  You will need those especially to collect the money you will be needing for your project.  Check out this simple tutorial on how to get started on your first 3D printing project.

What You Will Need

Before getting started, you need to make sure that you have all you need in hand.  Here’s an obvious checklist of what you need:

  • A 3D printing software.   This is where you will be designing your already conceived design.  Of course, if you want to skip this part, you can simply download already designed blueprints from the internet.  But since you have probably decided to create your own model, you should use a CAD software to help you with that.  The learning curve for this software can get a little steep, but with practice, you shall master all the basics.  You can also use a non-CAD software such as Google Sketch.  However, you will need to install a plug-in to tweak and convert your final design.
  • A 3D printer.  Choosing the best 3D printer will depend on the type of project, the size, and your budget.   Now, when it comes to it, you probably do not need to know about every single part of it.  However, you do want to know about the basics of operation so that you can troubleshoot when the time comes (which will probably happen sooner than later).
  • 3D printing filaments.  This is what your design will be made of. There are many types of filaments.  Choose one that you feel will make a good material for your design.  We are talking about durability and budget. Just make sure you store your filament in air-tight containers to avoid humidity from building mold inside.

The Steps

Let’s get down to the steps now:

Step 1

Download the 3D software.  You might probably want to start with a free CAD software to download.  If you google this one, you will get a lot of options.  You will notice that free versions offer enough capabilities and that upgraded ones allow you to tweak some more.

Since this is your first project, a free software will suffice. Once again, know that after you download the software and open the grid, you will feel tempted to simply say “Do something”.  Get used to the software, explore it, and got to the “How to” section every time you have a doubt.

Step 2

Before putting down the design on software conceive it. Sometimes, models work on paper but not necessarily in the real world.  You might want to use some cheap resources to model your design and see if it can hold by itself.  Decide if your design will be one printing or if it will be necessary to print two parts and assemble them together.

Step 3

Use your software to draw the design.  It does not need to be a symmetrical design just yet.  You will have time to tweak it and make it 3D-printing material.  Once you are done with your design, you will most probably save it as a .stl file.

Step 4

Now it is time to bring the drawing to practice.  Now, there are many options for 3D printing that do not involve you buying one.  The cheapest printer can be found at a price of at least $600.   You could find a school that offers free use of a printer or rent one at a store.

Some places might even have a laser cutter that might come in handy after printing.

Step 5

It is time to sharpen up that design. You might need to cut out rough edges and smoothen them up.

Your one finished work is a good chance for you to critique yourself.  Take a look at all the imperfections and use them to improve for the future.

Probably the design was too big, or you missed a little bit here or there. You will definitively have better results in the future.