Written By: Anna Lucas
Welcome to the Introduction to 3D printing mini-course! Congratulations on taking this next step to advancing your knowledge in printing, engineering, and computer science! 3D printing is a very rewarding hobby and a great skill to add to your arsenal. But what really is 3D printing? And why is it so important to understand and can be so beneficial to your career?
Well, to start off, 3D printing is a method of creating a three dimensional object, layer-by-layer, using a computer created design. A design is created on a program, then sent to a 3D printer where layers of filament are heated up and layer onto the bed of the printer, creating the design that was sent to the printer. In other words, 3D printing is an additive process where layers of material are built up to create a 3D part.
So, we know what 3D printing is, but why is it so important? Well, before 3D printers were invented, engineers had to create all their designs by hand, which was a very lengthy process and allowed for lots of room for human error. These hand-made designs were not very precise and often had many mistakes and had to be recreated over and over until the design was perfect. But now, with the use of 3D printers, engineers no longer have to suffer through this grueling process, and now get precision made parts that are perfect (almost) every time.
3D printing is also important because it gives wannabe engineers such as ourselves, access to inexpensive prosthetics, the ability to create spare parts, access to rapid prototyping, and the ability to create personalized items, and manufacture them with minimum waste.
Because 3D printing has multiple steps before the printing itself takes place, such as designing, slicing, and then printing, 3D printing doesn’t just involve mechanical and electrical engineers, but also computer scientists and software engineers too! In other words, 3D printing is an all encompassing hobby, great for all aspects of engineering and science.
In this mini-course, I will be aiding all of you into getting started with 3D printing. I will first help you to choose a 3D printer by listing five different printers at all different price points, abilities, and levels. Then, I will help you choose a software to use to design and slice your prints, again by listing different softwares at different prices, features, and abilities. Finally, I will help teach you how to set up your printer and give you some insider tips and tricks when it comes to 3D printing that I wish I would have known before I started printing.