In this article, you’ll read important topics for successful 3D printing for beginners. You’ll also see (and see links for) some of our best tips for 3D printing.
There is a ton of information online – much of it conflicting. It can be overwhelming (it was for me) so we’ll help you find a good starting point.
Before you dive in on your own, we suggest you watch some videos from the “trinity” of gurus on 3D printing.
There are a lot of YouTube channels with great content – these are just a few of our favorites.
These 3, in my opinion, have the best range of information and are quite fun to watch. These videos will answer a lot of your pre-buying questions before you run out and buy a 3D Printer.
Reasons to buy a 3D printer
The first question you should ask yourself is why do I want a 3D Printer? Some reasons to buy a 3D printer include:
- You’re a designer and want to design and print own designs
- You need one for work to print in-house prototypes
- You want to make money printing models for others
- It just looks fun and you just want one
Those are just a few reasons why people choose to buy a 3D Printer and these purposes will usually help you determine what kind of printer to buy.
What 3D Printer should I buy?
If you’re an absolute beginner you want to buy a Fused Disposition Model (FDM) printer – the ones that use a plastic spool of filament.
I personally recommend the Prusa i3 MK3S+ (click to see our review), it’s essentially the iPhone of 3D printers. You’ll overpay by a bit but it’ll be dependable and have phenomenal customer service.
Beyond that I recommend looking at some of our reviews of the best 3D printers, by brand, use case, type, etc.
The first thing to do after buying a 3D printer
Well, start printing!
You’ll need a 3D model. You can either create (don’t start there) or download one from our list of websites to get free 3D printer designs.
Printables and Thingiverse both offer a wide array, but the list above includes places like the National Institute of Health and NASA.
A good way to start printing things is to search for upgrades for your printer (especially if you bought a Creality machine).
This will get you used to printing and will also start your tinkering addiction if you don’t already have the bug.
First Print Issues?
So if you’re new to the game you are most likely having first-layer and bed adhesion problems. Here are some tips:
Level your bed!!! Take the time to make sure your print bed is as level as possible. I recommend starting with PLA Filament as it does not require a heated build plate and is most likely to stick to your bed.
It’s really easy to level your bed and it’s worth taking the time to do this correctly. I recommend leveling on 3 points on your bed like in the image below. You can do this using your 3D Printer controls or with software like Simplify3D, Cura or Pronterface.
Move your HotEnd Nozzle over the area and zero (home) your 3D Printers Z Height. You should be able to slide a standard piece of paper between the nozzle and print surface to where you can feel resistance of the nozzle on the paper. You should barely be able to move the paper back and forth without is buckling or folding due to friction. Do this for all 3 points on your bed. This should result in a uniform “Squish” that is nice and semi-transparent on the bed surface. This will be a never-ending adjustment to find the perfect ratio of stick, squish and elephants foot
Next think about what you are printing on and what you need to make prints stick;
Sheet Metal Bed = Blue Painters Tape (the one with no orange graphics)
Glass Bed = Elmer’s Glue Stick or Hairspray if your prints are not sticking
Other Bed Surface Types: PrintInZ Build Plate, Polyetherimide Ultem (PEI) Sheet, BuildTak, Carbon Fiber, etc.
If you are still having trouble check out this great troubleshooting guide from Simplfy3D: Print Quality Troubleshooting Guide
Mastered the first layer now what?
Once you have a good concept of how to properly get your printer setup and are ready to print you can start basic calibrating of your machine.
Different Materials – and even different brands or colors within one brand – require different parameters and profiles.
For example, Red PLA will print great at 190°C whereas White PLA will print great at 210°C.
I always run a small test print when I get a new filament in to see what its sweet spots are. Here are some things you can print to test the filament in your machine and make adjustments.
Get these dialed in and you’ll be printing like a pro in no time!
You are now ready to start 3D printing. If you want to make some money and have fun 3D Printing while doing it, start a 3D Printer Hub.
But you’d better be ready to offer quality prints and service. This is a great way to get some mileage on your printer and learn how to print more complicated objects. The best way to learn to keep on printing! I hope you found this article useful. Please post some comments and feedback below and happy printing!