As 3D printing technology evolves, the cost of owning a 3D printer is coming down. With so many self-make capabilities that it offers to a user it is hard to resist the idea of getting one for yourself. And why not….such is the potential of 3D printing that one is only limited by imagination. From 3D printed jewellery to action figures, and 3D printed snacks to prosthetics, the options are endless.
So, if you have taken the plunge and bought home a new printer here are some essentials you would want to buy along with it. Having the right set of tools and aids handy will not only make your journey smooth but also quick. Here are the 7 essentials together with our recommendations and cost estimates (in USD)
You’ll need two types of tapes when 3D printing –
A masking tape has multiple uses. Not only it improves adhesion on the print bed and protects from scratches, but also makes it easier to remove the finished print.
Recommendations: You may use 3M’s Scotch-Blue 2090 tape for a masking tape. It will cost you roughly $10.
One of the many advantages of using a Kapton tape for print bed is that it has a high temperature resistance, which can protect the printer’s components near the hot end.
Recommendations: Kapton Tape (Polyimide), 2″ x 36 yd is a good choice, and will cost you about $20.
Just like the tapes, you need two different types of glues:
As you start experimenting with 3D printing you will see how glue stick becomes your best friend. It can be incredibly helpful when you are trying to improve 3D print adhesion, and is a way better option than using an adhesion spray. However, one key feature to look for is that it must be washable.
You can use a glue stick on all kinds of print beds, even those made of glass. Just apply the glue stick on the print bed evenly, and see improvement in adhesion.
Most desktop printers will have limitations of size. If the overall size of your 3D print is large then you may probably have to print it in parts. To join it later however, you must use a strong super glue so that it keeps it together.
Recommendations: The Original Super Glue Cyanoacrylate Gels pack costs $4.50 and has two super glue tubes, which should be enough for one large 3D print. Depending on how often you have to print large sizes you can also keep a few packs as spare.
3. Metal Spatula
No matter how careful you are, 3D printing can get messy at times. If your 3D print has stuck to the print bed and you are unable to peel it off using bare hands, then a spatula or palette knife can help prying it loose.
Recommendations: All kinds of quality palette knives should be able to do a good job. However, Titan’s steel knives in particular are slightly better due to their tapered tip which helps in getting under the base of your 3D print. Its 3 piece set comes at $20.66, but worth every penny.
4. Digital Caliper
Precision is important in 3D printing, and a digital caliper can help you in measuring the 3D prints accurately. Most 3D printer filaments are not as accurate as you would want them to be, which is why you must rely on a standard digital caliper for quality checks.
Recommendations: iGaging IP54 electronic digital caliper comes in a solid stainless body, and does its job well. It costs $26.95 on Amazon.
5. Knife or Cutter
A standard sharp knife is also one of the essential tools that you must have, because a lot of times 3D prints are not as sharp are they should be. Using a knife you can remove strings or blobs of plastic that are sticking to the print.
Recommendations: X-Acto X5262 Double Knife Set of two pieces is a good choice. One knife comes with No. 11 blade, and the other with No. 2 blade. The set will set you back by about $13.
6. Set of Files
Files come in a lot of shapes and sizes, and this can be quite useful when you want to smooth out your 3D prints. While standard files can be used for polishing surfaces, round ones can make the holes in a print smoother and even.
Recommendations: Tekton 5 piece set has standard files in different shapes, and is perfect for your 3D printing needs. You can get it for $11.40.
It is nice to have a few sheets of sandpapers with varying coarse levels (220 grit) to fine (1000 grit). These can be used to further polish your 3D print to get a refined product.
Recommendations: Wetordry 9″ x 11″ Sandpaper Sheet is a good option, and can be bought for $7.99.
Most people overlook the importance of accessories and consumables when buying a 3D printer. However, if you want a good printing experience and quality 3D prints, then the tools mentioned above are a must. Not only they will make 3D printing easier, but also make your experience enjoyable.