3D Printing the smart way ~ I only thought I was smart….

Updated September 2019

3D Printing the Smart Way

The place to learn about 3D printing… Start here to build your 3D printing knowledge base.

Lessons Learned From Rapid Prototyping

If you read my initial 3D  titled 3D Printing the Smart way I shared what I have learned through my experience thus far. Read it here. First it is wise to share that 3D printing is not new, as in, it did not emerge last week. No it has been around for several years. However, this process is not fully mature and collecting Social Security either. It is more like a married couple with their first kid. Pretty much know what they are doing but each day is a new adventure.

custom 3D printingGood 3D Printable Models are Key

I cannot iterate how important a good artist is to draw these items up right the first time. It saves hassle and tons of money. Case in point, for those creating in 1/64th scale and are very picky about scale, 3D is probably not for you. The item may be drawn but once it goes to print it can likely be kicked out due to “thin walls” (see image to the right). This means the item is too small to print and the Shapeways engineers reject the drawing. Other third party companies can reject 3D print designs for the same reason. Thus the parts will need to be made bigger to print and quite possibly nor be true 1/64 scale.

A tidbit of trivia with Shapeways. Each time an item is purchased, it is evaluated by an Engineer to make sure it passes the minimum tolerances for the material it will be printed out of. What that means is, what printed a month ago could be rejected today by a picky engineer. That has been driving me mad all summer. I had two items that were exactly alike except a quarter inch of length, all other aspects were identical. One printed, the other rejected. Go figure.

Print Material Matters

The type of material that the item will be printed in affects minimum tolerances as well. Today I want to print  a service bed in a low cost material and the order is accepted. Next week I want to print the exact same item in pink plastic and it is rejected for “thin walls”. Why? Different materials have different minimum wall thickness before they can print. One is accepted one may not be. This is something important to consider when drawing or having an item drawn.

In one of my previous blog posts I recommended printing items in batches. For example, about every item I have I can print the artist saves the following way. One file will have one item, another file five and another ten. Batching items does save money that much is true. But I later discovered that the batching process changes the kinds of materials that the models can be printed in. If I buy one service bed I can select from all the possible choices of print materials. However, if I select the file of five items many of the choices go away. (See screen shots below) Usually the choices I like to use. Just a another little something to keep in mind.

22′ Aeroswint single bed print options22′ Aeroswint batch of 5 print options
3d printing store image3d printing store image

By now readers may be scared off from this process. I hope that does not happen as the infinite possibility is too good not explore. My goal has been to give as many tips and tricks a possible so custom parts and accessories not made by manufacturues can now be created. That is so cool. Anything we want is now at our fingertips.

Ready to spring forward in your learning? Make sure you read 21 Tips For Beginners in 3D Printing

There was quite a learning curve involved so do subscribe to my newsletter to get the latest 1.64 scale tutorials and help guides. Please ask questions in the comment box.

See you next time!

Eric