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10 top tips for 3D printing beginners

06. Ensure your model is watertight

When creating a 3D print-ready model, it must be completely closed or watertight, as it is more commonly referred to. If you don't do this before it is exported as an STL (standard tessellation language) file and it is found to have holes in or gaps, it will not be suitable for 3D printing.

07. Follow the 45 degree rule

3D printed lattice

Avoid support material where possible

Many 3D printers do not print with dissolvable support material so, where possible, you want to avoid support material all together. Overhangs that are greater than 45 degrees will need support material so keep layers within that measurement or cut up the design and print the cut parts as self supporting and assemble at a later date.

08. Remember, it's HOT!

In order to actually do its job, the extruder nozzle on a 3D printer needs to melt the filament, meaning it can heat to above 180 degrees Celsius, a temperature that is more than capable of burning skin and melting other materials. We know using a 3D printer is exciting, but it can also be hazardous and always ensure the nozzle is cool before making any adjustments.

09. Keep your poly count low

3D printed balls

Reduce the number of polygons to a minimum

The lower the poly count, the quicker things are going to be. Generating 3D printing files can be a lot quicker if your 3D model doesn't contain any unnecessary polygons. If you are printing solid filled models, or hollow but closed structures where the internal structure is not visible, make sure the model has no unnecessary internal surfaces.

10. Remove supports carefully

This may seem pretty obvious but be careful to take your time when removing support material. Rushing this process could effectively ruin an otherwise flawless print. Don't pull or use excessive force, and try using tools, such as a knife to score lines at connecting points to give a cleaner break.

Words: Jason Wires

Jason is the owner of Jason Wires Productions, a prototyping studio that prints molds and casts, that are then painted for the toy, video game, TV and film industries. The company uses 3D printers to a professional, industry standard.

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