What are the skills needed for 3D printing? As a perpetual undecided I took a long time to arrive at a choice, and then I realized, afterwards, that I had only wasted time!
With this article I would like to help those who are, now, with the same question in the head. I hope that it will be useful for you to solve at least that doubt!
One day, some years ago, I decided to buy my first 3D printer. Since I didn’t know how much this activity had really fascinated me, the first choice has been a kit. I didn’t want to spend much on what could have also turn out to be something that I would abandon shortly afterwards. However, I must admit, I was quite scared. I saw these printers coming in pieces to be mounted and the questions in my head were so many.
Will I be able to assemble it? And could it work? What skills I need to avoid major difficulties?
From the point of view of a complete neophyte starting with 3D printing may seem one of those very complicated things that require years of study. Due to the lack of information about it, almost everyone see 3D printing as magic. The creation of objects from nothing is seen as something not within everyone’s reach.
Actually, there’s nothing more wrong than this! If it is true that the original idea of Chuck_Hull (the inventor of 3D printing and STL format) is certainly revolutionary. It is also true that its implementation is easy. As a result, operation is simpler, cascading. Nowaday, unfortunately, 3D printing is still far from being plug and play. And I understand that high technology and DIY is a marriage that can scare!
You can console yourself in all this! You may already have the skills and resources to get started. Despite of what you may think the greatest difficulty is the first contact. It’s like being on top of a mountain, in front of a black slope to face with ski. It gives us the impression that it is too steep, but thrown away the fear, the fun starts!
Mindful of my past I write this article for all the people who, as I have been, are faced with an existential doubt: “do I enter the world of 3D printing?”. After a few years of experience and a few thousands hours spent creating objects of all kinds, I feel ready to list the 6 skills that you should have or develop to become a full member of the 3D printing Makers.
N. 1 Creativity
That’s the basic skill. The desire to create something original, unique or otherwise to do something out of the ordinary. Whether you want to repair existing objects or create new ones. The mere fact that you’re interested in 3D printing testifies that you’re creative. In Italy so far noone talks about 3D printing. It’s very popular in some other countries but not everywhere. If here and today you want to create with the 3D printer, believe me, you are a creative. You are part of a 10% who perceives reality differently and want to change it.
Every project starts with an idea.
The beauty of 3D printing is that you can instantly turn your idea into reality. You don’t need to build something with your hands, the printer will take care of it. With the 3D printer you can and must think outside the box. You can create objects that would not be possible with traditional production. You could also be inspired by the work of others. This world is open source, a lot of ideas made available to everyone.
N. 2 3D Modeling skills
This is one of those skills that can solve problems for you, even if you don’t need it. If you want to print in 3D, you can find warehouses full of 3D models downloadable for free. Each of them has thousands of models available. Only Thingiverse gives you access to more than a million models, free of charge, and is growing day by day.
Lack of modeling skills does not allow you to customize objects. If you want to create your own objects you need some modelling skills.
Don’t think it’s impossible, some software like Tinkercad, are a godsend to a novice. Tinkercad is a free and simple modeling software! It is used online and does not need to be downloaded. If you are interested in learning this software there is a guide for the basics of Thinkercad, which will give you the tools to start creating something of your own. You can also learn 3D modeling software via courses on YouTube. There are video courses for any software and for all levels. The required skills are not unachievable and you will be independent users after some lessons. Once you have mastered the 3D modeling software, you can create wonderful and unique objects, even with moving parts, independently.
If you already know how to draw in 3D take a look at these guidelines to model in 3D printing, all the mistakes to avoid!
N. 3 Mechanical and electrical skills
Or perhaps it would be better to say, ability to follow instructions. No need for special mechanical skills, such as electrical. Having an idea of how to tighten the bolts, and know the meaning of Volt, Watt and Amp , however, are welcome. With mechanics you can only understand by seeing how it works, and once you understand it everything becomes simple, even repairs. The electronics looks the same. No one (or almost no one) has the ability to repair a logic card. Anyone can attach cables by following the instructions. And that’s what’s required!
More than skills, which are acquired through experience in a short period of time, in this case perhaps you need a good equipment. Each printer kit comes with all the necessary tools to mount it, but after a while you will still feel the need to have specialized and technical tools. Here you can see all the possible tools you could want for 3D printing! You will realize reading the article that in reality only a few things are necessary, as many are already present in our garages.
N. 4 Software Knowledge
Even if you are not asked to be a hacker and pierce the Pentagon’s defenses, a minimum of PC use is still required. It’s about installing some small programs and some drivers. Not like installing a 2D printer, but we’re close. Let’s say that the printer, once mounted, doesn’t need anything else. After a few weeks of use we may want to upgrade or modify it. If this is the case, you will probably need to modify the Firmware. Then know a little about the Arduino bundle, since it is the software you use for this kind of operation.
Also in this case the web is full of guides that take you by the hand and through which you can learn how to do everything. Even with Easy3DHome, in our own way, we help to create guides. In the Software Guides section you will find many software or more general guides on 3d printing.
Facebook is also crucial for acquiring information. In the social network there are specific groups for everything. There are, for example, groups for advice on the purchase of 3D printers, divided by brand (e.g. Tevo group or Tronxy group) and specific ones for each printer models. In addition to all this there are also groups for specific parts, Arduino, Marlin (Firmware), and so on! In these groups, you can ask questions or express your doubts that will be clarified immediately.
N.5 Manual skill
Again, you do not no special manual skills. But if we can have them at our disposal, they’ll certainly be a good weapon. Although the printer and printing skills are not professional, if we have manual skills we can still create masterpieces.
When I talk about manual skills, I’m talking about painting, sanding, gluing, repairing and building in general.
Like all the skills described above, these can also be acquired, tried and tested in a short time. Also in this case perhaps more important than the ability itself is useful to have a good preparation on what are the tools available to the maker. Personally, I didn’t know many of the tools and materials that I now use on a daily basis. Here you can find a list of everything you need to postproduce (process and refine) your creations.
N.6: Patience and Enthusiasm
Yes, it’s true! These are two characteristics, but they can still be enclosed in a single one: Being tireless curious!
If you lack all the skills I mentioned earlier, but have an insatiable curiosity, you have everything you need. It will take patience, sometimes you encounter problems that seem insurmountable, at least the first time. Mounting a machine that has tight tolerances like a 3D printer may seem like an impossible job. Just as it may seem to replace a firmware or make mechanical changes.
If we are collecting the proper information, everything become feasible. And this is like a bicycle, once you learn how to ride, you never forget it!
At this point you should be increasingly convinced to buy a 3d printer and we can do in two different ways:
- Look at Gearbest marketplace, here you will find all the printers on the market at a very competitive price. You can enter the world of 3D printing with a decent machine in just over 100$. These printers come from China (like 99% of all printers on the market), and at Gearbest you can buy them by skipping a few steps, so saving money. Gearbest has a “Railway” expedition where it ships goods by train. You will receive it a little later (in about 20/25 days) but without paying any import tax.
A 3D printer for less than 200$ all-inclusive…did you think that was possible?
- If you want to receive it quickly and with insurance or reimbursed then Amazon is right for you. This electronic marketplace has any machine at its disposal. If we don’t like the product once tried, we can return it within 30 days and we will be refunded in full.
If you want help choosing your 3D printer, all you have to do is ask! But to give you a better idea of which model might be right for you, I invite you to read: The first 3D printer – What printer should i buy?.
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