There are a lot of options when it comes to 3D printing. Here's some FAQs to help you make the best decision for your needs and be prepared for your request. This isn't everything but covers some of the top questions we get from customers.
This section covers frequent questions regarding 3D printing
What is needed for us to start your custom print?
Supported File Types: We require the file(s) of the object(s) you want to print. Those files must be in .STL, .OBJ, .CHITUBOX, .CTB, .LYS, .STEP, or .3MF format. Those file formats can be obtained from a 3D Design or 3D Slicing software like the ones mentioned below.
Material Type/Color: We need to know what material you would like the object(s) printed in, see below. We also would need to know if you prefer a certain color for filament/resin options or if any color is acceptable.
Print Size Constraints: Size of print needs to fit within the constraints of our printer's print bed size. If it is larger than our printer capabilities then the design will need to be made smaller, or broken up into smaller pieces in which you can then attach together. If this is not possible due to requirements of your design, then we would not be able to print your part and suggest finding a larger, commercial printing service for your needs. Our print bed sizes are a maximum of 8.25” x 8.25” x 9.8" (L x W x H) for filament printing and 7.8" x 4.9" x 8.6" for resin printing.
Common 3D Printing Materials
Filament (Plastic-based) Types:
PLA - The most commonly printed material. Cheap and easy to print with. Tends to be the most brittle option compared to others. Lowest temperature resistance.
PETG - Commonly printed material. Cheap and relatively easy to print. Slightly better toughness, flexibility, and temperature resistance versus PLA. Soda bottles tend to be made of this.
ABS - Strong and durable material. High temperature resistance. Lego bricks are made of this. Higher cost versus PLA/PETG.
ASA - Similar to ABS but also has great UV resistance properties. Higher cost versus PLA/PETG.
Flex (TPU/TPE) - Flexible material with great abrasion and decent temperature resistance. Can be hard to print with and doesn't print high details very well. Has various types of flexible properties based on the Shore hardness scale. High cost.
Carbon Fiber / Polycarbonate (PC) Blends - High abrasion and temperature resistance, tends to be brittle for small parts. High cost.
Resin (Liquid-based) Types:
Standard - The most common 3D printer resin types with low to average durability and temperature resistance. Can print highly detailed models. More costly than filament.
ABS-like - Higher toughness versus standard resin. Slightly higher cost.
Flexible - Highly flexible resin material. Long print times. Very expensive.
What are layer lines and support marks and why do 3D printed objects have them?
3D printing technology goes about printing material layer by layer, one on top of the other as it prints an object. This naturally causes layer lines to show up on physical prints because of this process. There are ways to lessen the visible effect of layer lines but standard filament printing will always exhibit these features. Even high resolution Resin printing can have some visible layer lines depending on part orientation or resolution chosen to print. This is why post-processing (sanding, gap-filling, Acetone-smoothing, etc.) is almost always required in order to get a completely smooth surface.
Depending on the requirements of printing your model, supports may need to be printed in conjunction with the print to support curves or bridging that is beyond 3D printing capabilities layer by layer process. This presents a challenge of getting the object to print while leaving as little support marks or scarring as possible. Resin printing almost always require some type of supports due to its liquid material. Proper curing times and smart support layout and settings will minimize the impact supports have on resin prints.
Filament and Resin prints are not perfect and there should be some level of expectation that minor gaps, support marks, layer lines, or other imperfections may be present and would need to be addressed in your model. This process is not like injection molding and not nearly as expensive for that reason. Once sanded and/or primed and painted, a 3D print's lines/marks (if any) should not be visible or seen at all.
We constantly tune, calibrate, and perform routine maintenance on our printers to ensure you get the best quality print, with minimal post-processing required, and as little support material used which helps keep cost of materials down and less waste for the environment. Thank you for your support!
This section covers frequent questions regarding 3D Design
What software is used to create 3D designs?
There are numerous software options available to create your 3D designs, however, some of the most popular ones are below.
TinkerCAD - Free basic software from Autodesk, browser based, basic tools but good to learn from
Autodesk Fusion 360 - High-end modeling, free(limited)/paid software used primarily for hard surface modeling and design
Blender - High-end modeling, free software used primarily for organic modelling and design but decent tools for hard surface modeling as well
Zbrush - High-end modeling, paid software used primarily for organic modelling and design
Where can I get a 3D design?
While we do not currently offer 3D design services at this time, there are many websites dedicated to 3D design or you can design your own or commission someone to create one for you from services like Fiverr, Shapeways, and others. Popular sites for existing 3D models include Thingiverse, Cults3D, CGTrader, MyMiniFactory, Yeggi, and more!