3D Printing is a popular manufacturing process with wide application in many scenarios. As one of the big manufacturing processes, 3D Printing has its perks. One of such is its use in prototyping and in producing some consumer goods.
As a beginner in 3D Printing, there are many things you have to know. However, knowing them does not have to be stressful. Yes, it is a kind of stress since you have many things you must know. For example, you need to make sure you totally grasp the rudiments of 3D Printing. A place you can start is knowing the most basic of all 3D printing settings.
This article will introduce the four basic 3D printing settings you must know as a beginner. It will cover their introduction, effects, and a simple explanation of tweaking them to work for you. You will also get to know 3D printing better as we demystify the manufacturing process.
What Is 3D Printing?
Of all manufacturing processes, 3D Printing is a unique process with its perks. While beginners might get confused about its functions, it is an easy-to-understand process.
3D Printing is an additive manufacturing process with many industrial applications. It is an addictive process, unlike CNC machining, which is a subtractive process. An addictive process is one in which a product is built from the careful addition of several layers.
Each layer is a tiny fragment of the supposed finished product. Therefore, in 3D printing, it is easy to make complex shapes of three dimensions without using and wasting much material.
How 3D Printing Works?
Before going into the 3D Printing settings, you should refresh yourself on how 3D Printing works. This will be a summary in three parts, which are:
- Getting a 3D model
You can create a 3D model yourself or look for a library where you can download it. If you want to build yourself, there are many software tools available for use.
As a beginner, you can use software such as Tinkercad. This is because it offers beginner lessons with an option to export your file in printable file format. After making a 3D model, the next thing is to prepare it for your 3D Printer.
- Getting the file ready for your 3D Printer
After making a printable file, the next step is getting preparing it for 3D Printer. This step is called slicing and can only be achieved with slicing software. Slicing involves converting the printed 3D image into layers on which the 3D Printer acts on.
The sliced image is fed into the 3D Printer with a USB, SD, or Wi-Fi. The 3D Printer then starts to print the sliced image layer by layer.
3D Printing Settings A Beginner Should Know About
As a beginner in 3D Printing, there are four settings you must know. These settings are important since they directly affect the quality of your product. Below is an explanation of each setting to give you a hang of what to expect.
Temperature is a crucial part of 3D Printing, and it depends on the type of filament and the 3D Printer you use. There are many types of filaments available for 3D printing. For example, the optimal temperature range PLA filaments is 1800C to 2300C. There are also ABS (210⁰C – 250⁰C), PETG (220⁰C – 235⁰C), Nylon (220⁰C – 260⁰C), etc. For other materials, there can be a reduction or increase in temperature needed.
The temperature has a lot of effects on the properties of the finished product. It must be optimal since being too hot and too cold have different effects on the product. Working towards an optimal temperature requires knowing what happens with working at a hot temperature.
- Using Hot Temperature
Using hot temperature is not a bad thing since it depends on what you want. However, before you choose to use hot temperature, make sure your material, the 3D Printer, and the environment are compatible with it. Below are the advantages of using hot temperature.
- Heat Stability
When you use hot temperature during printing, you can achieve better heat stability. The materials produced are stable to heat since they were literally born from heat.
- Better Mechanical Properties
Materials subjected to such a process exude better mechanical qualities in comparison with other materials. They have higher tensile strength, hardness, and are durable.
- Chemical Stability
Materials subjected to hot temperatures are more chemically stable. Therefore, they are ideal for packing consumer products such as foods and medicines.
Using hot temperature also has its demerits. Below are the few demerits of the process.
Warping occurs when there is an inadequacy in the cooling of the molten plastic during extrusion. The inadequacy is a result of the rapid cooling of the plastics. This later leads to a situation in which the base layer lifts itself above the print bed, a condition known as warping.
- It is Energy Intensive
As expected, heating to such a hot temperature will cost more in terms of energy.
To get the optimal temperature for manufacturing, you must start printing from a low temperature and work yourself up. You should also print slowly from the beginning. It would also help if you increased the temperature based on what you want.
Do you want more detail? Use a cooler temperature. If what you desire is the strength or other properties, go for a higher temperature.
The Speed of the 3D Printer
As a beginner into 3D Printing, you must also take note of the printing speed. The speed at which you print depends heavily on the type of 3D Printer you are using. Some 3D printers print at a very slow rate, while some print very fast.
Generally, there are sets of 3D printers in terms of speed. Set one consists of 3D printers that run at a speed of 50mm/s. The other two sets can run at 80-100mm/s and 150mm/s and above.
Setting the right speed depends on what you want. Each speed level has its advantage and disadvantages. Below is the advantage of using a slower speed.
- Better Printing Properties
All machine parts work at a reasonable rate. This allows for better detailing and layering. Therefore, the printer image looks blended, unique, and exudes quality.
- Better Machine Work Rate
With a better machine work rate, there is a reduction in the stress on a machine.
Working at a slower speed has its perks and its disadvantages. Below are a few.
- Print Deformation
Print deformation is a result of the 3D printer staying too long on the layers.
- Increase in Operation Time
In a production that requires a lower operating time, using a slower speed is not ideal.
Printing at high speed is better if you want a decrease in operation time. There is also no print deformation since the machine barely waits on a layer. However, printing at a high speed also has its disadvantages. You can experience overheating of machine parts and lesser detailing, and weak adhesion.
What then is the right speed to use? It is to your discretion. Normally, a 3D printer manufacturer always states the right speed to work with. It would help if you then worked from that with your eyes fixed on both speed's advantages and disadvantages.
The 3D Printer Layer Height
The layer height is another setting related to the speed since it also has a relation to the time it takes to complete a project. Choosing a layer height should be based on the three things below:
- Detailing you to want on the product
If you want more detailing and blending, you should use a lower layer height.
3D printers become more accurate when you go for lesser layer height. The reason is that there is no drastic plunge in the nozzle while making new layers.
- Operation time
If you are concerned more about operation time, it is better to increase the layer height. An increased layer height reduces the time it takes for you to complete a project.
The 3D Printer Extrusion
The 3D printer Extrusion property is one thing that gets many beginners into trouble. As a beginner, you might not be familiar with its settings. Yet, it plays a vital role in your product quality. 3D Printer extrusion is the amount of material that can come out once while during printing.
Your 3D Printer must extrude at a normal rate. Over extrusion can lead to a thick print job. This simply messes with your product's quality. Extruding at a less than normal rate also has its disadvantages. For example, the products will look like mesh-work.
The best setting you can do as a beginner is to note your 3D Printer's extrusion capability. You should start at a low extrusion rate and increase till you are satisfied with the product you get. There will surely be mistakes, but it is towards becoming one of the best in 3D Printing, which is definitely worth it.
3D Printing is becoming rampant in the manufacturing world due to its ease of use and other advantages. However, as a beginner in 3D Printing, there are many things to learn. Knowing some 3D printers' settings will allow you to deliver quality above the quantity of all things to learn. This article introduced four basic settings every beginner into 3D Printing must know. This was not in terms of steps, but careful explanation into each setting to better understand and utilize them. Surely, after going through this article, you have four weapons or more to add to your 3D printing arsenal.