3D Printing Workflow

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Modeling

Your first goal is acquiring a 3D model of an object you want to print, in the .STL format.

Downloading Premade Models

Platforms with 3D models:

3D Model Search Engines

Downloads That Might Require Conversion/Manipulation Before Printing

Building Your Own Models

OS Support
Software License

Windows

Mac

Linux

Raspberry Pi

Web

123D Design Free
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
DesignSpark Mechanical Free
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Sketchup Free
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
MeshLab Free
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Blender Free
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

Preparing your STL for Printing

Slicing

Print Settings

Printing

Hardware Check

Bed leveling.
Material selection.
Build plate surface prep
Printing on a perfectly smooth perfectly flat surface is actually a bad idea. The plastic won't adhere very well, and higher layers will dislodge it, ruining the print. There are many strategies to making your prints adhere to the surface, and you will likely need to experiment to find a solution that works for you. Remember that bed leveling and Z height at 0 will determine how much the first layer of your print is pressed into the surface, and this will significantly affect adhesion.
  • Blue painters tape.
  • Kapton tape.
  • PET tape.
  • Glass plate.
  • Hairspray.
  • Glue stick.
  • ABS Juice. ABS dissolved in acetone can be used as a kind of glue that keeps ABS prints stuck to their build platform.

Sending G-Code

Finishing Parts

  • Acetone vapor bath. ABS parts can be polished to a smooth and shiny finish in an acetone vapor bath. Caution: Acetone is flammable, and its fumes are explosive and toxic. You must exercise care with this technique, using only a tiny amount of acetone, keeping all sources of ignition away from the vapor, and operate the apparatus outdoors.
  • Filling and Sanding. A tutorial on using automotive finishing techniques on your model to achieve a smooth painted part.
  • How to Smooth Your PLA 3D Prints - Contributed by G+ User William Eades here