Welcome to the world of 3D printing. Hackers and makers today have the opportunity to turn their ideas and visions into reality using affordable off the shelf printers. Creating simple to complex prototypes these days can take anywhere from a few hours to in some cases a few days Gone of those days when you had to fork out thousands and work with commercial CNC machines to create simple prototypes only to realize that what you had put together wouldn’t work and you needed to repeat the whole process all over again.
So what is 3D printing – 3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.
3D printing is truly the opposite of subtractive manufacturing in which one cuts out or hollows a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a milling machine. 3D printing enables you to produce complex shapes using a lot lesser raw material than you would with traditional manufacturing methods. 3D printing however starts with the creation of a 3D model in your computer. This digital design is for instance a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file. A 3D model is either created from the ground up with 3D modeling software or based on data generated with a 3D scanner.
3D printing requires you to first create a 3D model which you can then print out. 3D modeling software come in many forms. There’s industrial grade software that costs thousands a year per license, but also free open source software, like Blender, for instance. You can find some beginner video tutorials on our Blender tutorials page. 3D modeling software are often made to suit the functions of the user’s industry. This has resulted in the rise of software suited to specific niches. As a result, there are software applications on the market that cater to aerospace or transportation, furniture design or fabrics and fashion among many others. For this reason, when you are starting out, the amount of choices can be a bit overwhelming, we recommend starting with Tinkercad. Tinkercad is available for free and it works in browsers that support WebGL, for instance Google Chrome. They offer beginner lessons and has a built in option to get your object printed via a 3D print service.
Primer on 3D Printing – The folks at DIYODE (Magazine) a while ago had put together a series of articles covering off the fundamentals of 3D printing. I’ve been following these guys for a while now and should admit that i am impressed by the quality, diversity and depth of content they put out there. If you are a maker, hacker I would highly encourage you to check out the work these guys are doing and if possible also support them by picking up a subscription. Am quite sure you will enjoy the quality content they push out every month.
Here’s a link to each of their articles in their 3D printing series which ran in Nov 2018. You can also look them up directly on their website. –
- 3D Printing Basics
- Part I – 3D Modelling Shortcuts
- Part II – 3D Modelling Shortcuts
- 3D Printed Anti Fogging for VR Headsets
- Spotlight on the Lulzbot 3D Printers
- Interview with the founders of 3D Brink
- 3D Print Server : Easy as Pi
- 3D Printed Bluetooth Speaker
About DIYODE Magazine – (From the Diyode website) DIYODE Magazine is the first new magazine supporting electronics enthusiasts and makers, that Australia has seen in 30 years! DIYODE Magazine is a 100% Australian-made, independent publication, produced by a passionate editorial team. The magazine’s fundamental focus is to provide a valid platform to showcase the amazing creations and the hard work undertaken by the electronics and maker communities, to solve problems or to just make really awesome things !!!
Hopefully you have enjoyed the post. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for future tutorials drop us a note at – learning at hack2 dot live.
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