3D Printing

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The ShapeOko is also suited for use as a 3D printer. Like any CNC machine, the conversion to 3D printing is quite straight-forward, despite 3D printing being the inverse of the milling / routing / material removal the Shapeoko is normally used for. Termed as Additive Manufacturing, it allows one to directly create an object by adding material onto a bed, typically layer-by-layer. Options include:

Further list: http://circuitgrind.com/3d-printing-processes

The typical route is to use FFF, and is what is documented here. Please see below for a list of other 3D printer projects and designs.

“Getting good prints out of a printer is a skill you learn with time, if you are willing to invest said time. Whoever tells you otherwise is lying to your face.”[1]

Using the ShapeOko as a 3D printer involves certain tradeoffs:

  • affordable re-use / multi-purposing of the XYZ mechanicals
  • limited Z-height (on a stock machine)
  • Requirements of a 3D printer control system being more involved and expensive than a 3-axis CNC (page about RAMPS settings for CNC)

Further requirements include:

  • Electronics which include:
    • 4th axis stepper driver
    • Heating element and temperature monitor for the extruder which will need to be calibrated[2]
    • Suitable power supply --- 3D printers require an additional motor, plus at a minimum current to heat up the hot end, so require significantly greater amperage than a typical milling machine (modulo those which have a spindle plugged into and controlled by the microcontroller)

In addition to heating the filament and extruding it, one may need further temperature controls:

See the following examples:

Reddit post discussing the tradeoffs involved in attempting to build a machine inexpensively Large sizes: http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/32wimd/question_which_design_is_best_for_large_scale/

List of 3D printer machine designs. https://sites.google.com/site/3dprinterlist/

Discussion of considerations when selecting a printer: https://etherpad.mozilla.org/V9OyZXJEGL




Forum discussions and examples


In addition to the standard 3D CAD software (Art of Illusion is a frequent suggestion), 3D printing requires additional specialized software. See also http://reprap.org/wiki/CAM_Toolchains

One option is to draw geometry in a 2D program such as Inkscape, export to .dxf, then import that into OpenSCAD as shown in http://www.appropedia.org/Converting_2D_images_to_3D_for_printing_using_open_source_software or to directly export to OpenSCAD using a plug-in such as http://libregraphicsworld.org/blog/entry/inkscape-gets-openscad-converter




Type Name/Link Description
STL STL Viewer Display and manipulate the content of stereolithography or STL files.

https://tamarintech.com/article/tamarintech_model_viewer [5]


Type Name/Link Description
Nesting Plater 3D-printer plate generator.

http://gfx.cs.princeton.edu/pubs/Luo_2012_CPM/index.php --- Chopper: Partitioning Models into 3D-Printable Parts

http://nothinglabs.blogspot.com/2012/11/puzzlecut-openscad-library.html?m=1 --- PuzzleCut OpenSCAD Library


https://github.com/Joaz/GCodeCombine --- used to combine test files layer-by-layer

https://bitbucket.org/Groomblecom/gcode-editor --- Java (Swing) app intended for editing G-code for 3D printers [6] [7]


Rather than generate G-code to describe the negative space around an object, CAM for 3D printing requires that one "slice" an object into a given layer height to match one's printer's configuration and desired print quality.

Website for slicer settings: http://slicershare.com


Type Name/Link Description
Mesh MeshLab Portable, and extensible system for the processing and editing of unstructured 3D triangular meshes. Object slicing routine is extremely quick.
Slicer Skeinforge Converts STL files to Gcodes. Included with ReplicatorG. Reliable with many options.
Slicer Slic3r Converts STL files to Gcodes. Faster than skeinforge.
Slicer Repsnapper Slicer completely written in C++. With 3D preview.
Slicer Cura Slicer and GCode sender. Single solution software where parts can be used independently.


Slicer SuperSkein Open Source 3D Mesh Slicer in Processing. Thingiverse
Utility ConvertSTL Ruby script that converts STL files between ASCII and binary encoding.
Utility IVCON command-line C++ program for 3D graphics file conversion which reads and writes a variety of 3D graphics file formats, including STL, converting from one to the other.

http://www.printr.com/katana [8]

https://www.craftunique.com/craftware [9]

http://www.raise3d.com/pages/ideamaker [10]

https://grid.space/kiri --- combination CAM tool and slicer for FFF, lasercutting and rotary spindles.

See also http://www.loria.fr/~slefebvr/icesl/ OpenSCAD-like GPU-accerated CSG modeler which also slices and will export to B9Creator by INRIA[11]


3D printing requires controls not needed for milling, so uses different control software. Many control programs include slicing features, either one of the programs above, or their own.[12]

Type Name/Link Description
Multi-purpose Repetier-Host All-in-one software for doing everything but creating .stl files: arrange, slice, check G-code, send G-code, monitor printer. Instructions for installing in Linux. Fix for permission denied error.[13]
Multi-purpose ReplicatorG Software for controlling a 3D printer. Inputs G-code or STL and will arrange, slice, create G-code and send.
Multi-purpose Cura Prepare a 3D file for printing and to print it.
Multi-purpose RepRap Host Software Capable of outputting G-Code.
Multi-purpose MatterControl Graphical app to organize, arrange and manage your 3D prints. Includes MatterSlice slicer. Windows and Mac OS X versions available.
Communication Pronterface Pronterface, Pronsole, and Printcore - Pure Python 3d printing host software.
Communication Printrun Set of G-code sending applications: printcore (dumb G-code sender), pronsole (command line G-code sender), pronterface (G-code sender with graphical user interface), and a collection of scripts.
Multi-purpose X2SW Graphical interface bundling Printrun, Skeinforge and Slic3r. Windows and Linux.
Multi-purpose RebRep Graphical app for Windows or Linux used to send GCodes to a RepRap 3d printer.
Communication RepSnapper Graphical interface for Windows written in C++.
Communication ArduinoSend/send.py Python command-line tool for sending code.
Communication (Android) SmoothieControl Beta. Available on Google Play.
Communication reprap-utils Command-line utilities for Posix-compatible (Unix) systems and Windows.
Communication and remote web interface Octoprint for CNC / Grbl by PxT Communication program which allows submission of jobs, previewing, monitoring and control through a web interface. Unique in being suitable for Grbl as well as 3D printer firmwares. New version will round to 3 decimal places to preclude the too long line problem. Instructions for installing on a Raspberry Pi. Original version. Setup on Windows, Setup on Raspberry Pi

https://www.botqueue.com/ --- Web based printer control software, meant for many printers and managing a queue.[14]

http://gcodeprintr.dietzm.de/#GCodePrintr --- Android.[15]

G-Code Interpreters/Firmware

G-code interpreters for 3D printers require additional support for an extruder which must simultaneously be controlled for both the rate of filament feed and the temperature of the hot end.

Type Name/Link Description
G-code Teacup Teacup Reprap Firmware (originally named FiveD on Arduino) is a firmware package for numerous electronics sets. Sub-32K size can squeeze onto an Arduino Uno ATmega328 or ATmega168
G-code Sprinter Forked from Klimentkip
G-code Marlin Forked from Sprinter and Grbl. Support for QTMarlin a beta GUI for PID-tuning and velocity-acceleration testing.
G-code Sjfw Firmware for Atmega644p and later processors.
G-code Repetier Forked from Sprinter.
G-code Sailfish Firmware for Makerbots.
G-code Smoothie Firmware for 32-bit ARM NXP LPC1768 Cortex-M3 boards

FORMIDEOS - open source operating system for your 3D printer http://developers.formide.com/beta [16]

Online generators

Online Utilities

Closed Source



In addition to the motion requirements which are in common with a CNC mill or router, a 3D printer must also manage filament as noted above. This is done using a variety of specialized hardware.


The extruder is divided into two parts, one for moving the filament, the other for melting and depositing it.


Cold End

The cold end (often referred to as an extruder itself) moves the filament of a diameter to match that of the hot end at varying rates of feed under the control of the microcontroller running the selected firmware. Most designs use a "hobbed" bolt which has grooves cut into it which serve as teeth to engage the filament and allow it be fed into the hot end.

Hot End

The hot end accepts filament of a particular diameter (typical options are 1.75mm and 3mm), heats it to its melting point and feeds it through the nozzle (which diameter characterizes the hot end, typical diameters are 0.25mm, 0.35mm or 0.5mm).



Nozzle shapes:

  • Flat nozzles print plane surfaces with less calibration effort
  • Sharp tipped nozzles require better calbration but deliver better precision and bridges[17]

Discussion of nozzle diameter:

Nifty infographic showing inter-relation of nozzle diameter and smallest possible feature size, maximum layer height, and number of perimeters needed for 1 or 1.2mm shell: https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/4yz6gi/nozzle_size_vs_max_layer_height_and_min_feature/

Material options:


Assembly techniques:

Alternatives to Kapton: http://www.reddit.com/r/Reprap/comments/2hsh1l/i_have_a_jhead_and_no_kapton_but_i_did_have_an/

Reddit: Things to keep in mind when designing a dual extruder?

Print Bed Surfaces/Coverings

The print must be extruded onto a flat, level surface to which it will adhere.


One strategy for production work is to have two beds and swap them after each print.



Often a printing surface will be mounted to a "thick sheet": http://reprap.org/wiki/Thick_Sheet Some thick sheets are a part of the actual structure of the printer and also work as printing surfaces.

Some thick sheets are suitable for directly printing on:

  • plywood
  • bamboo

The surface must be flat and level, and able to tolerate the temperatures and heating/cooling cycles of printing safely.[18] In the absence of a thick sheet, it must be sturdy enough to support its own weight.

A further consideration is the thermal coefficient.[19]

An additional option is a characteristic / feature:

  • heated bed --- pretty much a requirement for larger ABS parts (some people have found that warming up the print surface w/ a hair dryer helps[22])

Other special purpose options:


Most surfaces require some sort of covering to ensure adhesion. Choices include:

In addition to or in lieu of the covering:

Examination of adhesive use: http://www.dbclunie.com/2014/02/what-adhesive-do-you-use-when-3d.html

Commercial options:


https://ultimachine.com/content/ceramic-insulation-tape [32]


http://richrap.blogspot.com/2015/01/stick-with-it-3d-printing-print-bed.html [33]

Filament Spindle

Easily constructed, these may range from temporary structures of Lego bricks and dowels to more elaborate setups.[34]

3D Printer Filament Spool

Simple Filament spool stand v2



A microcontroller able to control a 4th axis will be necessary. Also a means to control the temperature of an extruder, this can either be an external unit or one integrated into the board.

An Azteeg X5 mini has been used successfully as noted on RepStrapOko as has Mach 3.

Any of the electronics listed on the reprap wiki should be suitable: http://reprap.org/wiki/List_of_electronics


Notes on temperature control: http://reprap.org/wiki/Temperature_control

Please note that in order to do PID temperature adjustment the thermistor must be suitable, 100 kΩ rating, the resolution of 10 kΩ thermistors above 150°C is not suitable for PID control. http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=3869&p=29099#p29099

Config Descriptor Notes
EPCOS100 Marlin Table No. 1[35]


Z-Axis Steps

These should be set so that layer height is integral to microsteps. Calculator: http://prusaprinters.org/calculator/ [36]


Before attaching the hot end, an extruder should be configured as to the number of motor steps required to feed a given length (or volume) of filament. A precise calculation isn't possible given variations in the effective diameter of the hobbed bolt and characteristics of different sorts of filament and variations in diameter from roll-to-roll.

For example, the Smoothieboard variant Azteeg X5 mini uses extruder_steps_per_mm which is calculated as:

e_steps_per_mm = (motor_steps_per_rev * driver_microstep) * (big_gear_teeth / small_gear_teeth) / (hob_effective_diameter * pi)

Once an initial value has been calculated one must then:

  • load filament
  • measure and mark a known length of filament from a specific point on the machine which will allow the measurement to be repeated
  • extrude a specific amount less than length of filament (some people feel it's best to do that in several shorter operations than one long continuous one)
  • measure the length of filament, comparing it to the length which was to have been extruded
  • calculate the ratio and apply it to extruder_steps_per_mm

This value may need further adjustment based on the specifics of extrusion.

Extrusion speeds

  • 0.5mm nozzle --- ~200mm/min
  • 0.3mm nozzle --- ~80 mm/min


  1. Measure filament diameter.
  2. Slice a 20 x 20 x 10 mm cube with 100% infill
  3. Print it.
  4. Judge if the top surface is concave or convex or good and flat.
    1. If concave, then reduce slicing profile's filament packing density (Dimension plug-in in RepG). This will increase the plastic output. Go back to 2.
    2. If convex, then increase the slicing profiles filament packing density. This will decrease the plastic output. Go back to 2.
    3. If good and flat, then you are done with calibration.

Make Magazine created an entire suite of test files: http://makezine.com/2014/11/07/how-to-evaluate-the-2015-make-3dp-test-probes/ see also http://makezine.com/magazine/what-is-print-quality/


Filament Diameter


Correctly tuning retraction will minimize stringing.[37]



Print a temperature tower.[38]

Hot End PID Tuning

Note that this should be done when the hot end is cold.

G-code command: M303 E0 S190 C8

E# is the number of the temperature control module, here it would be 0 for the hotend. The command runs for 8 loops, heating up, cooling down, and trying new values. Then will display settings which have been loaded into memory, but not written to your config file. Edit your configuration to use those three values ( Kp is p_factor, Ki is i_factor, Kd is d_factor ).[39]

You can also tune the PID for the heated bed the same way.

G-code command: M303 E-1 S60 C8

Design/Slicing/Printing Strategies


Designing Snap Fit Components

http://fab.cba.mit.edu/classes/S62.12/people/vernelle.noel/Plastic_Snap_fit_design.pdf [40]

Interaction of infill, layer height, and infill pattern: http://my3dmatter.com/influence-infill-layer-height-pattern/

Material Properties


One technique for printing parts w/o flat surfaces is to divide them in half, add threads and use a 3rd threaded (hidden) part: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:66824


  • identify torsion or tension forces --- arrange part so these are not along Z-axis
  • make part easily printable
    • minimise bridges
    • place holes along Z-axis
    • chamfer undercuts[43]
  • Filleting --- not useful on top, detrimental at bottom --- along X-Y plane can help minimise artifacts --- useful at corners to reduce jerking and smooth printing[44]
  • clearance --- need less along X or Y
  • Dimensions (below are from: http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/2x8l9u/designing_for_fdm_3d_printing/coxz56z ):
    • 0.3 - 0.5mm clearance for assemblies, specifically for holes.
    • Minimum wall thickness for integrity - ABS: 3 to 4mm, PLA: 2 to 3mm
    • To add your own support structure for overhangs, make thin vertical walls as thick as your extrusion width with 1.5mm spacing

often compromises are necessary between printability, durability, function, &c.

reduce warping: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!original/makerbot/3-vmrWMSDg8/vD51nlHCMvwJ


Flow rate



Arrange multiple parts on a bed and print all at once to allow layers to cool as they print.

Invert a print to eliminate the need for supports caused by overhangs.

Layer height

This is a function of your nozzle diameter --- 80% of it bounds your maximum, so for an 0.35mm nozzle: 0.35 * 0.8 = 0.28mm max. layer height. Minimum is defined by your patience and time and the ability of your machine to move accurately and precisely in the X, Y plane. Affects bond strength, for good cross-layer strength do not use layer heights taller than 60% of nozzle diameter.[45]

Discussion on reddit.

A further consideration is how it interacts w/ the # of steps which the motors must take to move a given distance depending upon one's belts or screws: Taxonomy of Z axis artifacts in extrusion-based 3d printing --- layer height should always be an even multiple of the smallest distance which a machine moves w/ a full step. Discussion: https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/3zqwii/til_make_sure_your_layer_height_is_a_multiple_of/




If a model does not need to be solid, then it can be partially hollow --- the method of partially filling a print is termed infill. Blog post by Garry Hodgson: Thoughts on Fill Algorithms.

Some argue that 100% infill must be cooled slowly and that 80% provides all the strength of it.[46]


Top and Bottom Layer Thickness

This should be set to an appropriate physical dimension, as opposed to some invariant number of layers --- 1--1.5 mm is a conservative value, or good starting point for parts which require strength. 0.5 mm may be appropriate for smaller, more decorative parts.[47]


Most slicing tools represent curves / arcs as straight lines, this causes a reduction in the effective size of holes, which increases dramatically at smaller sizes: http://hydraraptor.blogspot.com/2011/02/polyholes.html --- test file: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:6118






  • transparency --- full transparency not possible due to the object being made up of many layers and the light refracting. Larger layer heights will help. Suggested work-around, print a mold and cast in clear resin.[50]
  • PLA light-fastness and heat resistance --- http://forum.typeamachines.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=621
  • machines may have resonance frequency issues on some parts --- Frequency limit


Printing Parameters

Print material Hot End Temperature Print surface(s)
ABS 210°C -- 240 C°C Kapton or PET tape on flat surface (glass) at 110°C. Clean with acetone.
PLA 165°C -- 200°C Kapton tape or Blue painter's tape on flat surface (glass) or Hairspray on glass or lightly sanded glass at 60°C. Clean with alcohol


When troubleshooting, keep in mind that there are failsafes in the firmware software which prevent a condition of failure that could potentially result in a fire. [51] If the machine does not heat up or extrude, start by checking the thermistor.

Typical problems

  • parts don’t adhere to bed (or stick too well)
  • under/over extrusion
  • skipped steps due to belt or pulley slipping
  • poor mechanical alignment / movement of parts

Initial Setup

Reddit: How far should the nozzle be from the glass? (self.3Dprinting)

Troubleshooting guides

Monitor the voltage to the heating element. If it drops during the time you have the "cold print" symptoms then you have a short, if it rises during that period you have a bad contact. If there is no voltage during that period at all, I would troubleshoot your driver board. Mosfet drivers might be overheating.[53]

One interesting technique for making up for addressing the warping the lack of a heated bed addresses is to warm up the printing bed w/ a hair dryer while the extruder warms up.[54]




The filament which is used in FFF printers is much like the line used for string trimmers. Some people have had success using nylon trimmer line in their machines, while others have reported problems w/ contamination and other issues. Extensive examination: 3D printing with cheap Nylon trimmer line/string.[55]

Another potential source of material is plastic welding rod: http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=22851&catid=881

Discussion of the relative merits and characteristics here: http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/31b1vl/pla_all/

Filament Specifications

Standard Materials


Discussion of low glass transition temperature: https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/3ym6az/ive_written_a_blog_about_our_experience_in/cyernva


Absorbs moisture, should be stored in sealed containers w/ dessicant.[56]


Special Options



Other alternatives: http://nothinglabs.blogspot.gr/2013/09/filament-roundup-3d-printing-in-all.html

Changing Filament


Joining filament

It may be possible to print with other thermoplastics such as HDPE[78] and polypropylene.

Coloring filament http://www.soliforum.com/topic/8880/abs-colorant-make-your-own-colorant/

Drying Filament


Other Considerations

When printing infills, many styles result in very rapid back-and-forth motions which jerk / shake the machine quite a bit --- be certain that the printer is on a solid surface and won't damage or move anything with its vibration.

A printer, especially the hot end, should be kept clean to minimize odd smells from dust burning off as the hot end heats up.

It may be necessary to control the moisture content of filament --- ABS (also PLA?) may need to be baked to remove moisture from it.

If filament isn't clean it may be helpful to rig some sort of sponge or other method to clean it before it enters the extruder.

Before printing complex/large parts, consider making a print at a reduced size as a test.




Removing prints from print surface

There are various tools and techniques for this.


Apply a bit of rubbing alcohol to the edge of the print and pry.[80]

Razor blade and dental floss: http://imgur.com/a/mJDqx https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/3ltxkw/just_floss_it_off_the_new_way_to_remove_your/

Once a plate and print have cooled, placing it in the freezer may separate it (good for delicate prints).[81] or use compressed air.[82] Or rub ice on the bottom of the bed.[83]

Post-processing Prints





E6000[84] --- highly carcinogenic and controlled in California[85]

Discussion: Best glue for PLA?

Friction Welding

Plastic Welding

There are specialized tools for this such as: http://www.harborfreight.com/welding/plastic-welders.html or a soldering iron may be used.[91]

The new 3D printing pens are also useful for fastening pieces together (or for repair or other touchup). Detailed technique discussion: https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/51hfxv/rotary_tool_friction_welding_have_you_found_this/d7c2h3x

Threaded Fasteners



Bending, molding and modification

Most printable filaments retain their thermoplastic properties after printing and can be modified after printing through the application of heat. Using a heat gun, or soldering iron one can heat a part sufficiently to bend or otherwise reshape it.


Metal hardware can be heated up and inset into a part as well.

Bearings, Bushings and Bars


One can simply sand (possibly in combination w/ acetone): http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/2wfo9s/glass_smooth_prints_without_vapor_chamber_details/


https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/4ulf1n/best_technique_for_smoothing_prints_specific/ --- a number of excellent posts, including one advocating for nail polish (containing ethyl acetate) for PLA

Vapour baths to smooth parts

Note that this has serious health implications: https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/4kivoj/i_tried_my_hand_at_pla_vapor_smoothing_and_made_a/d3famvu — read all relevant MSDSs (Material Safety Data Sheets) and use all appropriate safety gear and techniques and precautions.

Household appliances can be re-purposed to facilitate this: http://solidoodletips.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/presto-part-finisher/

Parts can be masked using liquid latex to preserve features and sharp edges.[101]


https://rumy.io/blog/finishing-3d-printed-parts [102]

https://madprinter.org/2016/06/24/the-sanding-is-finally-done/ [103]

Polishing compound: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Meguiar-s-Plast-X-Clear-Plastic-Cleaner-and-Polish/16550253

Rotary tool (e.g., Dremel) w/ a wire brush: https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/45viwm/my_favorite_cleanup_bit_for_plastic/

Sealing prints

Parts can also be coated in various materials and gaps filled in w/ putty.

Gap filling w/ putty: https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/4qorxz/how_can_i_smooth_out_the_intersections_of_this/

A 3D printing pen such as the 3D Doodler may be useful for filling voids.[112]



Painting: http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/330rz5/want_to_paint_a_3d_model_can_i_how_and_what_paint/cqgg1r2

Priming: https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/3tl9o6/best_paint_for_3d_prints/cx73lh1

Gilding: https://www.printingin3d.eu/item/dagger-gilding [113]



ABS Fudge

Discussion of options for filling hollow prints: https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/3hewrd/has_anyone_tried_filling_hollow_parts_with/cu73ko5

https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/4hv18v/this_guy_is_printing_abs_with_pla_supports/ --- dissolving w/ lye


Some prints may be improved by tumbling in an abrasive medium.[114] Commentary on sandblasting[115]

Wet sanding may improve the appearance of some prints.

Most prints will need (careful) trimming w/ a sharp knife.







Designers of the Thingiverse: Self-watering planter recommend Titebond 3 wood glue.[116]

XTC 3D epoxy











Household Hacker's Watermelon Dispenser

Ice molds --- http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/31iqax/printing_ice_molds/

Lawn & Garden

Musical Instruments


Discussion of material selection for a quadcopter: http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/300eh4/material_for_quadcopter_pla_vs_woodfill_vs_plapha/

Board Games




http://functionalize.com/printing-and-assembling-your-letterkit-flashlight/ [123]

Office supplies


Computer Case Enclosures

http://3dmakers.thermaltake.com/ [125]






See also Tools

Also potentially useful are a soldering iron or wax carving tool which may be used for touching up prints or removing support material. http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/30uvnw/retouch3d_a_brand_new_way_to_finish_3d_prints_aka/

Tool list[132]:

  • Small wire cutters, for cutting filament.
  • Micrometer and/or Caliper.
  • A set of small files, for smoothing rough spots on the prints.
  • A ruler.
  • A razor, for removing stubborn parts from the platform (normally used for scraping paint off of windows).
  • A small needle-nosed pliers.
  • A hot-air solder station. For removing file marks from PLA.

Further discussion (w/ circular link back here): http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/2unezf/lets_talk_tools/

Another list w/ suggestions for advanced tools and some cleaning products: http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/2fxvkb/shopping_list_for_new_3d_printer_owners_advice/


The ultimate 3d Printing Tool kit: http://heyandyprints.com/ultimate-3d-printing-tool-kit/ [133]

Plans for a filament drying station: http://www.dbclunie.com/2014/03/3d-printing-drying-filament-for-15.html

General Tools 478 Triangular Scraper[134]


Reddit: Best tools for prying prints off?


Reddit: 12 piece 3D printer builder tool kit from Harbor Freight for less than $50.


Just bought a printer? Here's a list of the tools and consumables I use every day, together with explanations of what they're used for.[135]


As with any other CNC machine, a 3D printer should never be left running unattended.

Given the presence of heating element(s) the possibility of a fire and a means for extinguishing it should be considered.


PTFE lube[138] Discussion on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/comments/30dbuh/lubricant_for_linear_rodsbearings/

It is also important to print a set of replacement (3D printed) parts in the event of a breakage.[139] See also: Reddit: What parts should I keep on-hand to repair a printer?

Some have found it helpful to apply a small bit of canola oil to the filament when first loading a new spool of PLA[140] and every 20 hrs. or so thereafter.[141] Arguably not needed on a well-machined hot-end.[142] Seems to be necessary on all-metal (esp. stainless steel) hot ends.[143]


Nozzle Cleaning

Changing filament


Some advocate for “seasoning” an all-metal hot end by coating PLA w/ vegetable oil when first using it. http://www.dragonflydiy.com/2014/06/nozzle-seasoning.html






There's also Wikibooks: Blender 3D: Noob to Pro





Designing for Printing

Material Comparisons

Chemical Resistance Chart


UV exposure

http://www.protoparadigm.com/news-updates/weathering-of-3d-printed-pla-objects/ [147]

Beyond Printing


Note that there is a specific filament which may be used to print for lost wax casting: http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150128-filament-wizard-kai-parthy-unveils-his-new-moldlay-wax-3d-printing-filament.html


3D Printer Designs

3D printers are divided by two design aspects, motion and extrusion.





Other 3D Printer Extrusion Systems

Reducing printer noise


Astrosyn Dampers (essentially rubber sandwiched between two brass plates)[153]

3D Scanner


Filament Spool Recycling

http://www.printedsolid.com/shop/175-3/spools/ --- unfortunately, this program seems to have been suspended.

Online Resources





Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, a thermoplastic used as a 3D printer filament
Cold-end extruder design which moves the motor and gearing away from the print head, mounting them on the frame so as to reduce weight.
From the geometry, a 3D printer design w/ traditional X-, Y-, and Z-axes.
Geared portion of an extruder (q.v.) which allows a stepper motor to move filament for extrusion.
3D printer design using three identical columns arranged in a triangle.
Assembly which handles feeding and extruding filament. Consists of two sub-assemblies: a cold end to feed the filament, and a hot end that melts and extrudes it.
Manufacturer of a popular hot-end: http://e3d-online.com/
Raw plastic material in the form of long strands of a consistent diameter, 1.75mm and 3mm are typical. Available in different colours and materials.
The final portion of an extruder (q.v.) which contains the heating element for melting the plastic, and a thermistor for monitoring the temperature.
Standard hot-end design: http://reprap.org/wiki/J_Head_Nozzle
Non-uniform rational basis spline (B-spline), a mathematical technique using polynomials to describe smooth curves or surfaces.
Feedback tuning system used in adjusting temperature, PID stands for Proportional, Integral, and Derivative.
Polylactic Acid. A biodegradable thermoplastic polymer used as a 3D printer filament. Essentially starch which has had the monomer changed into a polymer by heat.
Initial circuit of extruded plastic made around the area of a model.
Standard Tessellation Language or Stereo Lithography, a representation of a 3D model using triangle meshes. c.f., NURBS.