If you are a beginner in 3D printing, you might have some questions about the technology, how it works, what materials are used and so on. In today’s guide, we are looking at some frequently asked questions about 3D printing.
Yes, we understand you have some questions about the 3D printing process, 3D printers as well as materials used. Read on for answers to some of the frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions About 3D Printing
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is a process in which an object is produced through additive manufacturing. The most common process is FFF (also referred to as FDM (fused deposition modeling).
With FFF, a filament of plastic is melted and used to create a model. The filament is extruded through a 3D printer’s nozzle, which moves in the X, Y and sometimes in the Z direction (Often it is the table that moves in the Z direction). While the plastic hardens, it is built layer upon layer until an object is finished.
If you want to learn all about 3D printers and how they work, you can read in our 3D printer guide for beginners article.
What is filament?
Filament is the raw material that FDM/FFF 3D printers use to print objects. Filament is actually a type of plastic, which is melted through a nozzle in the 3D Printer.
There are different types of filaments on the market. The common examples are PLA and ABS. These filaments have different properties.
Read all about filaments in our guide on different types of PLA filaments.
What can you create with a 3D Printer?
You can create basically every conceivable shape and figure with a 3D printer. In some advanced and complex models, a 3D printer with dual extruder can help. This is because support material is required to hold the model together while it is being printed.
What is support material?
In 3D printing, support materials refers to materials that are printed to provide support to the main model being printed. For example, the material may be used to maintain an incomplete shape of a model until the shape is complete.
Take a bridge as an example. Before the bridge is connected, a support structure (scaffold) is required to hold it up, until the last pieces are fused together.
In 3D printing, this is achieved with a dual-extruder 3D printer that can print support material and the primary material at the same time.
Is it difficult to 3D-Print?
No! The great thing about 3D printing is that everyone can handle it. It only takes a little computer skills. If you are an absolute beginner, you can try your hand with creating models using 3D pens. Get some of the best 3D pens that we recommend.
How long does it take to 3D print?
Depending on the size of the model, it can take a few minutes to several hours or even days. The speed and settings of the 3D printer also determine the time it takes for a model to be 3D printed. Most models take a couple of hours to be finished.
Do I need to monitor the 3D Printer while it is printing?
It is enough to be at home or your workshop and aware that something is being printed. You do not have to constantly stand next to the printer. However, it’s important to check the progress of your prints once in a while. This can be done through 3D printer cameras.
3D printers with enclosures are safer. The reason for monitoring is mainly to prevent the risk of fire.
What prior knowledge is needed?
You do not need any prior knowledge to get started with 3D printing.
You can learn everything easily if you buy a 3D Printer that is plug-n-play. There are many 3D printers that are very good and relatively inexpensive. Check what we recommend in our list of the best 3D printers for under $200.
How much does a 3D printer cost?
The standard price for an FFF 3D printer will depend on things such as the brand, build volume of the 3D printer, speed and so on. Generally, you can get a 3D printer for all price ranges, from $100 all the way up to $100,000.
The more expensive machines are geared towards industries, and other special industries. For home or hobby use, there are many 3D printers under $1000 that would be fine.
Here is a list of the 3D printers available under various price ranges:
- Best 3D Printers Under $200
- Best 3D Printers Under $300
- Best 3D Printers Under $400
- Best 3D Printers Under $500
- Best Resin 3D Printers Under $500
- Best 3D Printers Under $1000
What is the cost of 3D printer filament?
Filaments are not very expensive, unless you want special filament types, or have limited yourself to a certain brand due to the machine (some 3D printers advocate that you have to use their own filaments, e.g. the Dremel 3D printers like Dremel 3D40, Dremel Digilab 3D45, Dremel 3D20, among others. ).
Generally, you can expect to buy filament for between $10 to $20.
How much filament is needed for 3D printing?
The amount of filament you will need will depends on the model you want to print. However, with that said, you can print a lot of models with a 1KG filament.
There are also meter specifications on many models you download, i.e. how many meters of filament they require to be completed. Usually, 1KG PLA filament is about 300m long.
Does filament have a best-before date?
PLA, ABS, and many other filaments do not have a best before date. Therefore, they do not expire.
However, these materials are made of plastics that absorb moisture easily. Therefore, they can become bad over time in humid environments. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to know how to properly store the filaments.
Can 3D printers print metal?
FFF 3D Printer can print metal filaments. The filaments are actually plastic filaments with metal additives. The amount of additives determines how real and close to pure metal look you get.
Worth mentioning is that the filaments eats away at the nozzle.
See our guide on the best 3D printers for metal.
Can 3D printers print carbon fiber?
FFF 3D Printers can print carbon fiber filaments. These filaments are actually plastic filaments with carbon fiber additives.
Also, just like metal filaments, carbon fiber filaments eat the nozzle over time.
What is wood filament?
Wood filaments are plastic filaments infused with wood fibers as additives to create a wood feel. You can even get wood odor from the fibers. The filaments are quite gentle on the nozzle.
Can high school students use 3D printers?
Yes! And we actually recommend it.
3D printing is becoming more common, and many schools are introducing the subject to make students familiar with these machines.
If you are an educator, see the best 3D printers for high schools that you can buy.
Can you rent a 3D Printer?
Yes! But this will depend on where you live. For example, Top3DShop and other sites offer some of their printers for rental and lease.
Which is the best 3D printer?
The answer to this question is really subjective. Generally, the best 3D printer is one that will enable you to print the models you want at a quality level that you prefer and at a price that you can afford.
Read our reviews of the best 3D printers.
Which is the best filament?
The best filament will really depend on what you want to print. There are hundreds of filaments on the market. We recommend PLA filament for beginners because it is easy to print and non-toxic. Read our recommendations of the best PLA filament.
Can you build a 3D Printer?
Yes, you can build your own 3D printer! However, you need to have some technical knowledge and be receptivity to learn new things.
Do you need to buy software for 3D printers separately?
No! In most cases, the programs are included in the price of the 3D printer. In addition, there are free programs to download. Read our guide to find about the best free CAD software for 3D printing.
Are there many models to download and print?
Yes, there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of models that you can download and print. In addition, if you have some CAD knowledge, you can make your own models. See our guide on Free STL Files for 3D Printing.
What is G-code?
G-code is the code, or instructions, that 3D Printers use to know how the shafts of the machine should move, as well as how much filament to extrude.
What is an STL file?
A 3D model file is saved in the computer as an STL file. There are other file types that do the same thing.
What is the difference between 1.75mm and 2.85mm filaments?
There are various types of filaments on the market. Apart from material, the filaments also differ in size. The most common filament sizes are 1.75mm and 2.85mm. The filament size to buy will depend on your 3D printer nozzle. Check whether your nozzle is 1.75mm or 2.85mm.
Find our more in our guide What is 3D Printer Filament.
Can you scan objects and then print them?
A 3D scanner, or even a standard mobile camera, can be used to scan an object and then print it with a 3D Printer. 3D scanning and printing is great for things that break at home, but are difficult to get hold of .