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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for a 3d printer to print?

It depends on the size and complexity of the print, and also on your chosen layer height. A finer, higher resolution print will take much longer, but will look very much smoother.

 

Where can I download printable models?

The best place, without question, is Thingiverse. It’s a community site run by Makerbot, makers of the Replicator2 printer, but it caters for all machines and printing systems. Great search facilities and a vast library of user-submitted content means it’s easy to find the object you’re looking for.

Feel free to visit:
Thingiverse
3D Via
Google 3D Warehouse
Turbosquid
123D Autodesk
CGTrader

 

How do I build my own printable models?

There are many CAD programs available, including free ones such as Autodesk’s Inventor Fusion. A great place to start is the online CAD service Tinkercad, which is very easy to use.

Tinkercad

AutoDesk

 

When I download models from Thingiverse they’re in STL format. What do I do with them?

STL is the standard interchange format for 3D models. Your printer, however, can only read G-Code files, which is the STL model divided into separate slices for each printable layer, along with the instructions for printing that layer.

Import your STL into Repetier host and use the built in slicer to prep your model for 3D printing

 

I’ve heard you can print anything you can imagine. Is this true?

No. You can print anything that can support itself while it’s being printed, and that can be made out of plastic. And you do need to have reasonable expectations. You could probably print a scale model of the USS Enterprise, with a supporting structure, but if you want to print a replica of the Mayflower complete with masts, sails and rigging, you’ll be disappointed.

 

Should I print with PLA or ABS?

ABS melts at a higher temperature, which means your machine has to run hotter in order to print with it. It also has worse adherence qualities, so many printers that print ABS have a heated bed to help the material to stick. PLA, by contrast, cools quicker and sticks better, and so you can generally print faster with it.

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