How to 3D Print Something in 6 Steps

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Have you ever dreamed of using a 3D printer? That dream isn’t as hard to achieve as you may think. 3D printing is a method of creating a solid physical object from a digital 3D model. Why is it called 3D printing? That’s simply because the assembly process is similar to how ink prints on paper. 3D printing works by adding layers and layers from the bottom up, over and over until the item is printed.

Extrusion printers (which spray their material out of maneuverable nozzles) are the most popular form of 3D printing, where base materials (thermoplastic filament) are laid down in layers that come to create the printed product. Many popular 3D printers come with designs loaded and ready to print. These are often included as a set of instructions for your printer to follow.

Are you interested in how you can 3D print something? In this blog post we’ll walk you through the process on how to 3D print something from the comfort of your home:

1. Find a 3D Printer

Before you learn how to 3D print something, the first step is to find a 3D printer that you can use to print your object (make sure you already know what you would like printed). Check to see if your library has one or look for an on-demand 3D printing service. A quick Google search is a good place to start. Some companies offer 3D printer maintenance and consulting services, where we can help you find the right 3D printer for you, install it and provide training.

2. Get STL Files for 3D Printing

Stereolithography (STL) is a file ending with “.stl” and is a 3D model ready for 3D printing. This file format is common and works with a wide variety of 3D modelling tools. It’s also a great way to share 3D models for printing.

What do STL files do exactly?

These files describe the surface geometry of a 3D model. Of course, STL file sizes vary depending on the complexity of the model and the level of detail.

You may be wondering how to get your hands on STL files. There are two ways you can obtain these files: design your own or download pre-designed models that other people have created. It really all depends on how much you know about 3D printing and what your preference is.

3. Slicing and G-coding

Now that you’ve gotten your STL files, you’ll need to convert them into instructions for your printer. Many factors come into play here like, which kind of printer you have, which kinds of material you’ll be using, if you want an ultra high-quality print, a fast but low-quality print, and if you’re using a new material (which means you may need to start at a low temperature so it doesn’t burn). With all of these factors to take into account, experts usually recommend starting with your own model.

4. Send Your G-Codes to the Printer

We’re getting closer to actually printing something! When you begin, your machine will need to know the G-code instructions that are required for every step. Sending your G-code to your printer varies by the model you’re using, but generally, it’s some variation of this:

  • Save your files to an SD card
  • Control the printer with your computer
  • Use a 3D printer control system such as a Raspberry Pi

If your printer supports it, saving G-code to an SD card is usually the best way to 3D print something. Find your G-code file and choose the print option. Once that’s complete, go ahead and insert the plastic filament.

5. Control the Printer with Your Computer

It’s recommended that you connect your 3D printer to your computer with a USB. This lets you control your printer using whichever slicing tool you’ve chosen. An important reminder is to ensure your computer stays on and connected to the printer while your object is printing. For the first one or two tries, you should stay by your computer and printer to make sure it stays on and to make sure everything is running smoothly.

6. Control a 3D Printer with a Raspberry Pi

There are many benefits to using a Raspberry Pi with OctoPrint to control your 3D printer. It gives you more control over your 3D printer settings and helps you produce higher-quality 3D prints.

Controlling a 3D printer with OctoPrint using a Raspberry Pi can be done in five simple steps:

  • Flash the OctoPrint image to a microSD card
  • Connect the Raspberry Pi to your 3D printer
  • Turn on the Raspberry Pi with the OctoPrint microSD card inserted
  • Go to “https://octopi.local” on whichever web browser you use
  • You can download and print 3D models from sites like “https://www.thingiverse.com/” or you can always make your own 3D creations.

We hope this tutorial helps you on how to 3D print something. What will you print first?

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About Author

Hi, I'm Bryan! I'm the guy who writes most of the home improvement tutorials in Step By Step House. If you have any questions about what I've written, just contact me and I'll get back to you. Thanks!

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