Make Your Creative Ideas a Reality
Learn how 3D printers work, what speeds and resolutions they can achieve, and what software you'll need.
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3D Printing Basics
In order to create a 3D object, you'll need a model of what you want to build. You can use software to create models, scan objects with 3D scanners, or download models from apps or websites. Most 3D printers can connect to your desktop computer or laptop via a USB connection, and then the 3D printer's computer software will convert your model into a series of layers that can be individually printed. Once you determine what types of objects you'll want to print, compare the available features to find your ideal 3D printer.
3D Printing Speed
In general, the more detailed an object, the longer it will take to print. If you know that you plan to build intricate objects, you might want to consider a faster print speed. 3D print speeds are listed in millimeters per hour, so you can easily compare printers.
Filament is the most common material that general 3D printers use to create objects. There are a variety of materials used to create 3D printer filament and each material has its own special properties. The most common material is polylactic acid (PLA). This biodegradable material is created from corn starch. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) filament is more durable and heat-resistant, which is a good option if your object will need to withstand some wear and tear. Polycarbonate (PC) filament is even sturdier and is the best option for objects that will be used in high-impact situations. Compatible filaments will be listed in printer descriptions, so you can choose the correct printer for your needs.
Software and Apps
You'll find a variety of apps and software for 3D printing. Apps make it easy to design beautiful and functional items, even if you aren't an artist or engineer. You can also find apps that allow you to make 3D prints from your phone or tablet. Computer-aided design (CAD) software allows you to visualize 3D designs and bring them to life on a computer, so you can ultimately print with your 3D printer. Browse our assortment of computer software to find options available for design and illustration.