3D printing is as simple as regular printing. Select the file which is to be printed, feed it to the printer, and the printer automatically prints the text/graphics on a flat sheet of paper. Same is the case with 3d printing. You have an 3D design file (for example .stl or .obj), you convert it to a .gcode file (of the respective 3D printer you have) by slicing it and then you feed the .gcode file to a 3D printer. The 3D printer then automatically 3D prints it. Viola !! It’s done.
Softwares or Applications for 3D Designing/ CAD/ 3D Modeling:
The most commonly known free softwares/applications to design and slice the model are TinkerCAD & Cura respectively. TinkerCAD is a very basic & easy-to-use web-application. Even the school going students use it. But TinkerCAD has very limited features. For starters/ beginners, SelfCAD is the best one these days. It even has the slicing feature in-built. Although other professional softwares like Solidworks. Fusion 360, Creo, etc. produce complex and advanced 3D models.
3D Printing without having to make a 3D Design:
For those who don’t want to design, websites like Thingiverse, My Mini Factory, etc. are very helpful. One can choose any pre-existing design from such websites, download those designs (usually a .stl or .obj file) and simply upload them in the slicer like Cura and export it as a .gcode file. Remember to select the correct printer before slicing. A gcode meant for 1 printer may not work on another printer. For example, a gcode file generated for Creality Ender 3 will not work on Creality CR-10.
Slicing A 3D Model To make a Gcode File:
Some basic steps involved in slicing are-
- Aligning the 3D design on the printer bed (in a slicing software) in a way that least amount of overhang is expected.
- Select the infill percentage & infill design (for example 20% infill & a cubic infill design means the 3D printed object will have on its inside- 20% material in form of small cubes & 80% air/void.
- Enable/ Disable the support material. By default, all slicing softwares automatically add support structure on the areas that are expected to overhang (usually areas that are angled at more than 45 degrees). Note that in SLS 3D Printing, there is no need of adding support.
Mainly, there are 3 different technologies/ methodologies of 3D Printers/Printing:
- FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
- SLA (Stereolithography)
- SLS (Selective Layer Sintering)
Based on the type of 3D printer you are using (FDM/ SLA/SLS) some other steps may slightly vary. Note that, whichever kind of 3D printing you are doing (whether FDM, SLA or SLS), the 3D designing steps remain same for all. It is only slicing which will be slightly different for different 3D Printing techniques.
If you don’t have a 3D printer, give the 3D design or the gcode file to your nearby ‘3D Printing Service Provider’ & ask them to 3D print it for you. Make sure you tell them which material & color you want your design to be in. For example, PLA, TPU, Glow in the dark material, ABS, etc.
If you want your 3D Prints made and delivered to you anywhere in India, you can reach out to us. We are High Clouds, a registered company in India that provides 3D printing services in India. We also do lab setup at schools and train the students. High Clouds also has tie-ups with Creality, SelfCAD & 3Doodler..
Drop us an email or call us at 8750083972 and specify what you want 3D printed. We would 3D print it and deliver it to you.