3D Printing really came of age in 2013. Even as I write this article Maplins, a major UK high street store, has now announced it will start selling a budget 3D printer soon and has completely sold out of its pre-order stock.

Here at InkFactory.com we thought it would be interesting to purchase a 3D printer and explore its printing capabilities. So we took delivery of the hugely popular MakerBot Replicator 2 and have been testing ever since!

Our first project was to create the world’s first 3D printed ink cartridges….

MakerBot Replicator 2

Creating a CAD file in StudioWorks

A few weeks on we have been able to separate 3D printing fact from 3D printing fiction. Along the way we have picked up a few useful tips, some of which we have incorporated into this article… (we are also writing an article on how to troubleshoot 3D printing issues very soon!)

The 10 Commandments of 3D Printing

#1- You shall devise a strategy first. Before starting on your 3D printing project make sure you have a plan that details what resources and equipment you will need.

#2 – You shall NOT assume that your .STL files are fully functional. Errors can occur in the files depending on the software you have used to produce them.  Do not be too proud to use an additional tool/service designed to both detect and repair errors in your files triangulated meshes.

#3 – You Shall maintain a level build plate at all times. This may mean regular pre-build checks/adjustments in addition too making minor adjustments during the actual 3D build. Having a level build plate at the correct height for your project is critical if you are going to achieve the goal of getting the extruded PLA/ABS plastic adhering to the build plate.

#4 – You Shall use tape on the build plate to achieve better adherence of the printed object to the build plate. The blue tape by 3M seems to work very well for this task.

#5 – You Shall wipe over the build plate area with “rubbing alcohol” between builds. This helps greatly  with keeping the surface free from dust and finger prints.

#6 – You Shall wash your hands before working with and applying tape to the build plate as oil from your fingers will prevent the plastic PLA/ABS from adhering to the build plate/tape.

#7 – You Shall NOT assume that all PLA and ABS plastic are created equal. Some cheaper versions cause issues when printing if they are not of a consistent diameter.

#8- You Shall NOT store your PLA plastic in a humid environment.

#9 – You Shall NOT try and build your 3D object in a drafty space/room as this can lead to issues when printing your 3D object.

10 – You Shall NOT assume that the manual that came with your 3D printer is always correct. You will often need to test different variables such as temperature and speed the

In our experience using these Ten Commandments for 3D Printing, has allowed us to drastically lower our failure rate…

Can you think of anymore commandments for 3D printing? …..please share them in the comments below!

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