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Should I Get Into 3D Printing

Should I Get Into 3D Printing

We live in an exciting time technologically and there are many reasons for this. One of those reasons is that we’re at the beginning stages of the 3D printing revolution, where for a relatively small investment and some tinkering, you can get a printer that prints out 3D plastic pieces. 3D Printed DroneIt’s still early on, and like the PC before it, it’s not quite sure what value it can bring to the average home owner, however with a little know-how and the right tools, a 3D printer can be a great investment for industrial applications and in some cases even for art. But with this new technology comes some responsibility in ensuring it will give a good return on investment as well as solve more problems than it creates. Here at, we can help make your 3D printing a success.

The first thing to consider is it worth it to invest in a 3D printer? You’ll probably find answers on both sides of yes and no, but it really does depend on what you’re going to do with the 3D printer. Are you just going to make little trinkets that you can buy at a dollar store? Are you doing this just to test out the technology? Are you doing it to understand and experience the new technology? That might not be a bad thing. Are you going to use it to make custom parts for some sort of job you are doing? Probably it will be worth it. SpaceX and NASA have made parts for rockets with 3D printing, artificial limbs have also been made, and it would certainly be great to be able to 3D print an obscure part on a plumbing or handyman job in a few hours instead of having to order one several weeks out. So there is potential. The downside is that if the piece you need to print doesn’t exist, you need to be proficient with CAD or something similar to design the thing you need.

Tilly Lockey artificial armsThose are just a few points to consider, but they are important and your intentions in using the 3D printer will help decide if it’s a worthwhile investment. The most obvious value in 3D printing is that if you can design things to print, you’re going to get a lot more out of it, especially if you’re doing a lot of prototyping or hyper-specialized work with obscure or custom parts. There is some value too if you’re using it to explore the 3D printing technology or if you want to use it as a way to teach your children about this at an early stage in the technology. All that to say, there are benefits to owning a 3D printer, and it can do some amazing things, but it requires some forethought and shouldn’t be done on a whim or with the expectation that you’ve just bought a replicator from Star Trek.

3D Printed pipesIn fact, in addition to having a good reason to get into 3D printing, there are some important tips you should know or factor in before getting started. The process of 3D printing is far from plug and play, so for optimal results you’ll want to know all about five common mistakes and 13 things you should know before starting. Both lists stress the importance of ensuring the printing bed is properly levelled, for obvious reasons, and they also note that proper slicing and using good materials are key to success. The longer list also suggests using an Octopi (think Raspberry Pi) to help run things. Both videos will save you some headaches at the beginning of your 3D printing adventure so they’re definitely worth watching before buying a 3D printer.

Velleman K8400 PrintingNow that you have some groundwork laid, that is, a good reason to have a 3D printer and some expectations that it needs some work to set up, you’re ready to get a 3D printer, but which one should you get? We sell several different 3D Printers as well as many accessories and filament (this filament works with some 3D Pens as well) for them and a couple to consider are the Velleman K8200 and the Velleman K8400. The following videos review the K8200 and the K8400 respectively and point out the ups and downs while also proposing some solutions to make great improvements. The review of the K8400 is relatively unbiased and cites it as on par with the Ultimaker at about a third of the price. The reviewer jury-rigged a couple fixes for noise and alignment that are worth trying out and overall concluded that the K8400 is a good, affordable 3D printer for the price and that it printed relatively clean models. Both of these printers are kits that need to be assembled, and you can see the full list of tools for the K8200 here, and we do carry most of them separately. Included in their recommendations are some Velleman specific tools as well as some Wiha screwdrivers. You can substitute some of the tools with other brands that we sell if you’re inclined.

While it can seem daunting at first to get into 3D printing, with the right gameplan, the right printer and the right amount of care and tweaking you can get your 3D printer working and creating crisp and awesome looking toys or highly useful parts for work. As the technology grows and gets better, having a knowledge at this early stage will help you get ahead and equip you to solve the world’s problems with your 3D printer. Maybe.

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