Getting Started with 3D Printing

Learning the tools and terms to start 3D printing at home


Of all the wild and amazing technologies exploding into the mainstream, none are more fascinating or magical than 3D printing. Of course the prospect of getting into 3D printing can seem pretty daunting. With dozens of brands, sizes, printing technologies and plastics available in the market, it’s hard to know where to start.

Of course, that is why we’re here. Welcome to the guide to getting started with 3D printing.

What is 3D Printing?

Before we break down the information you need to get started with 3D printing, let’s cover what 3D printing means and how it works. The technical and complicated definition of 3D printing is any sort of machine-controlled additive manufacturing. In reality, when someone says 3D printing, they are likely referring to the more common plastic extrusion printing, and that is what we will cover today.

There are multiple variations of technologies used for 3D printing, but we will be focused on “Fused Deposition Modeling” or FDM printing. This is the machine that pops into your head when you hear 3D printer. It uses a roll of thin plastic wire that is heated until its soft, then its assembled in layers to create an object.

FDM is by far the most widely used and affordable version of 3D printing currently on the market.

Other types of printing technologies include Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Stereolithography (SLA), and Digital Light Processing (DLP). But we will save those for future articles.

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