3D printing is revolutionizing the way we create and manufacture products. It has opened up new opportunities for individuals and businesses to bring their ideas to life. However, creating 3D models for 3D printing can be challenging for those new to the field. This Quick Guide will provide a comprehensive overview of learning to 3D model for 3D printing. We will cover the basic, essential tools and software needed, and our expert tips for designing 3D models. So, if you’re a beginner, this quick guide will help you start your 3D modeling journey and bring your creations to life.
Learning to 3D model for 3D printing
Creating a 3D-printed object begins with a critical stage – the design phase. A well-constructed design plan is the foundation of any successful 3D print.
To bring your ideas to life through 3D printing, select your preferred design software, such as Fusion 360 or TinkerCAD. Start by sketching out your initial model, or import pre-existing shapes to modify and make into your unique design.
While numerous online collections offer pre-made 3D models for immediate printing, these may not always meet your specific needs. Suppose you require custom 3D printed parts, such as replacement mouth guard pieces, and cannot find the appropriate model in an online repository.
In such cases, the solution is to design the 3D model yourself and print it. The good news is that the design process is manageable, and with the right tutorials, you can learn how to create your models in no time.
3d Modeling For 3d Printing Software
- Best For Beginners: Tinkercad, Blender, SketchUp, AutoCAD, Fusion 360
- Best For Educators: Tinkercad, Blender, SketchUp, AutoCAD, SculptGL
- Best For Artists: Blender, ZBrush, Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya, Houdini
- Best For Engineers & Experts: Autodesk Fusion 360, SolidWorks, PTC Creo, CATIA, Siemens NX
Step-by-Step Process of Preparing 3D Print Model Using TinkerCAD
As an example, here’s how to create 3d models for printing with the help of TinkerCAD:
Step 1: Create an Account with TinkerCAD
To use TinkerCAD, you need to create an account. Simple, go to TinkerCAD officiel website, and provide a valid email address and password. After signing up, you’ll have access to all the tools and features of TinkerCAD.
Step 2: Start a New Design
Once you have signed in, navigate to the dashboard and click the “Create” button. You’ll be taken to a new design canvas. TinkerCAD has a simple, intuitive user interface that makes it easy to start designing right away.
Step 3: Choose Suitable Shapes
TinkerCAD has a library of shapes and objects that you can use as building blocks for your design. Click on a particular shape you want to add to the design canvas and place it where you want it. You can change the size, orientation, and other properties to suit your needs.
Step 4: Combine Different Shapes
If you want to create more complex designs, you’ll have to combine various shapes. TinkerCAD has various tools, including the “Combine” and “Subtract” functions. Simply select the shapes you want to modify and use the appropriate tool to create your final design.
Step 5: Edit or Refine Your Design
Once you have your basic design in place, you can refine it using the editing tools in TinkerCAD. This may include adding text, adding finer details, or smoothing out all the rough edges.
Step 6: Prepare Your Model for Printing
Before a 3D printer can produce a physical object, the 3D design must be transformed into machine-readable code. This is where slicing software comes in – its purpose is to convert the 3D model into an STL file into a sequence of instructions for the printer. The slicer slices the model into flat layers, decides on the movements of the 3D printer to create those layers, and sets various printing parameters. These settings are then saved in the G-code.
Some popular options include:
- Cura: This free, open-source slicer from Ultimaker is used by professionals and hobbyists. Cura divides the slicing process into three steps with a straightforward workflow and plugins: Prepare, Preview, and Monitor.
- Slic3r: This open-source slicer is maintained by a community of RepRap enthusiasts and regularly updated by its developers. It boasts features like auto-repair and multi-extruder slicing, making it an excellent option for advanced 3D printers.
- OctoPrint: While primarily a remote 3D printer management and print monitoring tool, OctoPrint also offers slicing capabilities.
Step 7: Print Your Model
Finally, you’re ready to print your model. Start the print process on your 3D printer. Sit back and watch as your design comes to life!
Note: This is a general outline of the process if you want to learn to 3d model for printing. Specific details may vary depending on the computer hardware you’re using.
Expert Tips for Designing 3D printed models and parts
1. Use a High-Performance Device
To ensure that you get the best results in your 3D modeling, it’s crucial to use hardware that can handle the demands of the software. Consider investing in a top-notch PC or iPad with a powerful graphics processor.
2. Invest in Quality Support Hardware
You can enhance your modeling experience by using support hardware like the Apple Pencil or a graphics tablet. This can help overcome the limitations posed by traditional input devices like keyboards and mice.
3. Understand Your Printer and Materials
With various printing technologies and materials available, it’s vital to be familiar with their pros and cons before designing and printing any part. Make sure to know the capabilities and limitations of your printer and material.
4. Keep your design simple and optimized
Simplify the design to reduce printing time and cost and minimize the need for support.
5. Strategize Around Overhangs, bridges and Thin Walls
While overhangs are not problematic, if you are okay with using support, keep the angle smaller than 45°. Additionally, it’s important to keep wall thicknesses above 0.8mm, as thin walls or features can be problematic to handle for some printers.
6. Consider the part’s orientation
Orienting your part in the right direction can improve print quality, reduce printing time, and conserve material.
7. Keep an eye on the weight-to-strength ratio
When designing a part, consider how you’ll use it, how much stress it will be under, and what materials will work best for your application.
8. Split-Up Large Models
Most desktop 3D printers have limited build space, making it challenging to print large models. The solution is to break them down into smaller parts and print them separately. Consider incorporating press-fit or snap-fit connections to make assembly easier.
9. Round Sharp Corners
Warping is a common issue that can arise during printing, especially with FDM printers. To minimize the chances of warping, it’s best to round up sharp corners and use rounded edges instead of pointy ones.
10. Test your design before printing
Simulate the printing process to identify any potential issues and make necessary adjustments before printing.
11. Make the most of post-processing techniques
After printing, use techniques like sanding, polishing, and painting to improve the overall quality and appearance of the parts.
Creating a successful 3D printed model requires a good understanding of the design process, including using your CAD software, an awareness of the limitations of 3D printing, and knowledge of how slicing works. By acquiring these skills, the process of designing your models will become smooth and effortless, leading to the creation of functional parts that are free of any errors. But, if you’re a beginner you can utilize free 3d models for printing readilty available online.
As you work on your 3D printing projects, it’s important to keep practicing and experimenting with different techniques to continue to improve your skills and develop your own style. With dedication and effort, you’ll be able to turn your 3D printing dreams into reality and create the parts you need for all your projects.