3D Print Essentials

There are a couple of tools that can improve the 3D printing process or after-print process dramatically that many 3D print enthusiasts consider these tools a necessity. At first, I was skeptical because I didn’t want to spend more money but then I realized either my prints were:

  1. Not sticking to the plate
  2. Sticking to the plate so hard that it would take the force of King Arthur to pull it out
  3. Coming out well for 99% of it but needed some adjustments
  4. Too big or too small to fit a part
  5. Anything and everything else

So here goes the necessities which are ranked in order from what I think is most important to just a nice-ty (nice to have) rather than necessity.

1. Tape – $11 Amazon – 3M Scotch-Blue 2090 or $7 Walmart, Home Depot
$20 Amazon Kapton Polyimide

Scotch’s BLUE Painter’s Tape (Masking tape) or Kapton Tape. Although you could go for cheaper generic masking tape, you will realize how much of a headache it is when you can have a wider strip of tape such as the 2″ painter’s tape and there is one wider option specifically for 3D printing but it is priced 4x as expensive. Painter’s tape helps your print stick to the bed and allows it easier to remove your print. It is a cheap option, $12 from Amazon or about $7 from Walmart, Home Depot, etc., and will last you many prints.
Kapton Tape is another option that is designed to withstand heat up to 400 celsius and works better with ABS filament. Kapton tape is a polyimide tape developed by DuPont for use with circuit boards and other scenarios involving heat so if you are using a heated bed with ABS, it is a viable option but it is twice as expensive than painter’s tape.

2. Palette knives – $21 Amazon – Titan Tools Putty Knife Set or ~$8 Walmart for one palette knife

This is a pretty close tie for first as these things can save your fingernails from a lot of pain and help save some of your prints from snapping apart. It’s a good practice to use your palette knives to take off every print because it helps with inching prints that are stuck on the bed and good use of leverage.

3. Glue Stick – $2.50 for 4 Amazon – Elmer’s Glue Sticks, Same price at Walmart

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Glue-sticks help with adhesion to print bed, apply a layer before printing and it should help your print adhere.

The following are not necessities per se for printing but for after-print finishing touches

4. X-acto Knife – $3.50 Amazon – X-ACTO #1 Knife, Same price at Walmart

Helps cut off supports, trim off parts for finishing touches and pretty much any small job.

5. Heat gun – $21 Amazon – Wagner 1,200 Heat Gun

I got this idea from attempting to repair a Galaxy S6 phone; heat gun has many uses but it is a double-edged sword. It can do as much harm as it can do good. It softens up the print for you to mold it but it also makes it flimsy so gravity can have an unintended effect on your print. Also, heating your print will make it have a glossy look which can look nice our out of place.

6. Sandpaper – $6 Amazon – 3M Assorted Grit 5-Sheet

This will help with finishing touches but it can be a long process. If you are thinking of painting your product, sanding is the first step before you spray on a layer of primer than a layer of paint. A dremel can be handy if you find yourself needing to sand quite often.

7. Enclosure – DIY $150-$200 or $600 from custom manufacturers

Depending on where your 3D printer is located and what material you are using, an enclosure can help keep temperate control in your printing location. PLA filament can shrink up to 5% and large/long prints are susceptible to warping which can stop your print from adhering to the print bed or cause the dimensions of the printed product to be skewed. Another benefit is reduction in sound, depending on the material of the enclosure and if fully enclosed or not. Just be careful, a fully closed enclosure will keep insulate heat which could cause electronics to overheat and certain materials such as sound proofing materials maybe highly flammable.


This post was inspired by an article posted by 3D Printing For Beginners. For a list of links to purchase some of the items listed above, please visit their article at: http://3dprintingforbeginners.com/3d-printing-essential-toolkit/


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