Is 3D printing difficult?

Table of Contents

For beginners, 3D printing can be difficult, especially if you don’t have an adequate understanding of the mathematics – trigonometry and geometry – which is needed to navigate the 3D printing software.
Aside from the software’s steep learning curve, the 3D printing process demands significant insight on handling the printing machine – the provided manual might not be enough.
The 3D machine, regardless of its brand, can be quite fragile and fussy. You might have everything set up; then something carves in. There’s also the need to maintain the hardware components of the machine, else the parts deteriorate. This is something only for the brave at heart.

Is 3d printing CAD software difficult
Is 3d printing CAD software difficult

10 Reasons Why 3D Printing Is Good

Skeptical about going into 3D printing? Don’t be. Here are 10 reasons why you should fold up your sleeves and learn the ropes of 3D printing:

  1. Versatile Designs

In 3D printing, design opportunities are endless. The are no limits to the design possibilities of 3D printing, unlike what’s obtainable with the conventional channels. 

  1. Zero wastages

Only the exact amount of items for a particular design are used, so there’s no room for discarding valuable resources. This is significant when you recall that other design methods tend to deploy more materials than is required, resulting in excessive waste.

  1. Accessible to everyone

The world of 3D printing has changed. 3D printers are no longer machines used by a few. More people are getting involved, making the learning curve less daunting. 

  1. Prototyping on steroids

In 3D printing, prototyping takes half the time. This is largely due to how quickly parts are crafted. The timeline of the entire process is shortened greatly. If you have ever tried machining prototypes, then you understand how time-consuming the process can be. Fortunately, it’s a different ball game in 3D printing. 

  1. Reduced cost

The 3D printing machine doesn’t always have to be manned by an operator. This reduces the cost of hiring one. With 3D printing, you won’t be overburdened by the cost of the material – the process is quite economical. 

While the initial cost of the 3D printer might be quite high, it’s a one-time payment that will save you a lot of money along the way. 

  1. Tough yet lightweight parts

Plastic is the number one choice material for making 3D printers. The synthetic compound is tough and lightweight. The impact is visible in the weight and durability of the machine. 

The great thing about the use of plastic for making 3D printers is how easy it’s to customize the polymer. Specialized attributes such as improved strength, thermal resistance, waterproofing, and more are often sought in synthetic compounds. 

  1. Reduces the strain on the environment

Believe it or not, the 3D printers might not affect the environment negatively. Since these machines are less on wastage and high on efficiency, their impact on the environment doesn’t compare to other design methods. 

  1. Improved medical services

With 3D printing, you can make an impact in the health sector. The 3D printer can be deployed towards creating realistic replicas of vital organs, like the heart, liver, spleen, etc. 3D printing holds the key to multiple innovative health technologies, so you can expect to be part of something extraordinary. 

  1. Designs can be created in a jiffy

A 3D printer coupled with the right software can be used to create designs within a few hours. The easy access to the STL & CAD files makes this possible.

  1. Print when you want

Compared to other printing methods, 3D printers use design files that can be accessed on a computer. This way, you can print precisely what’s necessary. 

10 Reasons Why 3D Printing Isn’t Great

Despite the many benefits of 3D printing, there’s a hideous side to this innovation. Below are a few reasons why 3D printing isn’t that enticing:

  1. Capital intensive

The items used in 3D printing – 3D printer, software, and others – don’t come cheap. With the equipment costing thousands of dollars and software subscription adding to those numbers, 3D printing is certainly for only deep-pocket individuals. 

  1. Up goes your energy bill

3D printers might be powerful tools, but they use up more energy than rival equipment. Frankly, there’s enough research to suggest that 3D printers use as much as 50 times more energy than the equipment for injection molding. And it gets worse if the project is for mass production. 

  1. 3D printing isn’t beginner-friendly

There’s a lot of hype around 3D printing, so more people get involved. Yet, the process is for the brave at heart. From the fragile 3D printers to the complicated software, 3D printing isn’t a beginner’s forte. 

  1. Health concerns

Many 3D printing enthusiasts aren’t aware of the innovative 3D printer’s negative side – its use can have grave repercussions on one’s health. 

The printing equipment is notorious for producing harmful emissions capable of causing worsening the users of health conditions like cancer. 

  1. Not ‘Green’ enough

3D printers’ affiliation to plastic speaks volumes of just how environment-friendly these machines are. Despite how economical the equipment might appear to be, plastic wastes are still generated, most of which aren’t biodegradable, and this has massive repercussions on the environment. 

  1. 3D Printers have some catching up to do

Considering the high cost of 3D printers, it’s a shame they’re sluggish in operation. Depending on the nature of the task, it can take the machine several days to complete the project. 

  1. Copyright Issues

3D printing doesn’t encourage originality. It’s so easy to recreate anyone’s work, and this can be a major challenge for the creative industry. With the wider adoption of 3D printing, it will only get harder to protect your copyright. 

  1. More Job losses

Since 3D printers can operate without being manned, fewer operators are needed. This might mean lower labor costs, but there’s a darker outcome: job losses. 

If more companies opt for 3D printers, more unskilled and semi-skilled workers in the sector might expect to be shortchanged, or worse, shown the door. 

  1. Plagued by inadequate raw materials

The enormous potential of 3D printing is shackled by inadequate materials. There’s only so far the 3D printing – plastic alliance can go. To attain the desired effects, a lot of fabrications have to be made using metals, glass, and other materials. Unfortunately, these items are unavailable for 3D printing.

  1. Can be used for criminal purposes

Just like 3D printers can be deployed towards the creation of valuable items, these machines can be put to negative use. Criminal elements have been known to use these machines to manufacture guns, bombs, and others. With the likely increase in the use of 3D printers, a few are not going to be for good; that’s a given. 

Is 3D Printing Hard?

3D printing can be a handful, especially if you lack the basic information. For instance, it will take much longer to master 3D printing without sufficient background in the relevant mathematics. 

3D printing relies a lot on hardware as it does on software. You’ll have to learn to navigate the machine to make any headway. 3D printers are like glass, fragile but functional. You’ll need to be gentle with them.  

Since the 3D printer works on materials like resin and plastics through different techniques, it can be quite a challenge to master these things. 

3D printers have moving parts, so maintenance can be rigorous. For those new to 3D printing, keeping the machine in tip-top condition might take some getting used to. Fortunately, practice helps you attain perfection. 

The software component of 3D printing is another area that might take some time to master. For beginners, certain applications like SecondLife might help in getting familiar with the 3D turf. However, other applications are more complicated, but once you get thoroughly grounded with the workings of the software, the sky becomes the starting point. 

Perhaps the most excruciating aspect of learning the ropes of 3D printing is being familiar with certain mathematical concepts like Coordinate Geometry. It’s no surprise why an understanding of these concepts is important as you have to manipulate 3D models. 

Another reason why 3D printing is a less frequently trodden path is the cost of the equipment. It’s a classic case of many are called, but few can afford it. Add the cost of the quality software, and 3D printing slips away from the grips of many enthusiasts. 

Initially, beginners get fed up with 3D printing when they burn through their resin faster than they expect. Issues like this can be avoided by being economical with your resin. 

Beginners need to take baby steps to get adept at 3D printing. Start with simpler tasks. And if something gets confusing, there are 3D printing communities that can help – just ask, and you’ll get answers. 

If you’re new to 3D printing, you shouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a 3D printer. There are cheaper options that will do just fine in getting you up to speed on 3D printing. But if you have the resources, it’s certainly not a bad idea to go for the best 3D printers – as you’ll find them worthy companions in rummaging the 3D world. 

3D Printer

This machine carries out the 3D printing process. 3D printers are capable of using different techniques to achieve 3D printing. Before you settle for a 3D printer, you should have an idea of the nature of the desired 3D prints. With different 3D printers having distinct capacities, you have to skip that step. 

The complexity of 3D printers differs, and this will influence how long you’d spend working on the machine to achieve a 3D print, so choose your machine wisely. 

All 3D printers aren’t cut from the same cloak, and it’s quite obvious through their unique printing style. Some deploy the digital light processing (DLP) style, fusion deposition modeling (FDM), selective laser sintering (SLS), and stereolithography (SLA). These styles differ based on how the printing is done. Some use a mix of filaments to flesh out the 3D model, while others work with powders, liquids, and others.

3D printers are machines, no matter how fussy they appear to be. They have to be operated safely. Many 3D printers are loaded with safety gimmicks, reducing the likelihood of damage. You should look out for these features when getting such equipment. 

Some 3D printers have attributes like multiple filament support, build volume, user-friendly interface, and others that are highly sought after. These features can transform the 3D printer from a fickle tool to a powerful, intuitive machine. 

3D printers also vary in their resolution. Some machines occupy the bottom of the resolution chain and others take the top spots. This will impact the quality of the 3D print. Fortunately, this resolution can be adjusted on most machines, albeit at varying degrees. 

In 3D printers, there’s also the laser precision to worry about. For the best results, the precision of the laser has to be highly pliable. This opens up the opportunity to create varying forms of 3D prints. 

Always scrutinize the customer support service of a 3D printer brand. If the brand lacks a proper support service, avoid their 3D printer. You’ll need the manufacturer’s input from time to time, so how their customer support works will decide how you get treated in your time of need. 

Are 3D Printers Worth It?

Why 3D printers have enormous potential, these machines are not for everyone. A lot of people get enthusiastic about 3D printing such that they splash the cash on a 3D printer when all they had to do was pay for a 3D printing service. 

There’s also the category of people that buy a 3D printer when they can’t leverage its capabilities. These don’t have the time to use the 3D printer nor the resources to learn its many functions. 

A 3D printer isn’t worth getting if you don’t intend to familiarize yourself with the machine. There’s a steep learning curve that comes with handling 3D printers, so get ready for the task ahead. 

If you’re getting a 3D printer to save money on items you can easily buy for much less; then the machine isn’t worth it. While having a 3D printer will save you money in the long-run, it’s going to cost money to purchase the machine, and you’d lose valuable time making these things. If that’s not pennywise palm foolish, what is?

Another reason why a 3D printer might disappoint you is if you intend to work with diverse materials besides plastic. Most 3D printers can only work with plastic. 

If you’re looking for a machine that can handle metals and glass, then get ready to splash the cash on a more sophisticated unit. 3D printers work with materials that can be transformed into their molten form, so you can’t work on fabrics. 

A 3D printer is worth having for those looking to get creative without giving up when the going gets tough. If you throw in the towel at the sight of any hurdle when using a 3D printer, then it’s not wise to spend that money on the machine. 

Don’t get a 3D printer if you’re not ready to handle the maintenance demands of the machine. Like any other equipment with moving parts, certain parts of the 3D printer are vulnerable to deterioration. You’ll have to get your hands dirty at some point, so keep that in mind if you are looking to get a 3D printer. 

Is 3D Printing Expensive?

There’s no outright answer to this question as a lot are play at deciding if 3D printing is an expensive venture or not. 

The cost of 3D printing is mostly affected by the price of the machine, materials used, the nature of the task, and how long it’ll take. 

Don’t expect the 3D printing items of different sizes to come at a similar cost. The larger an object to be 3D printed, the higher the cost. You can attribute this to the increase in the quantity of the material used as the object size goes up.

The kind of material used in 3D printing is another factor that can increase the cost of the process significantly. For instance, ABS, a type of plastic, can cost about $60 per kg, while a metal filament of the same quantity will go for triple that price. 

3D printing can be quite expensive when used in mass producing items. 3D printing might be a manufacturing process, but it’s more ideal for areas where creativity is needed, such as prototyping. Repetitive processes like injection molding are ideal for mass production. When you use 3D printing to mass-produce an item, expect a shocking expense sheet. 

You can’t talk about the sizeable cost of 3D printing without mentioning the elephant in the room: the 3D printer. Most decent 3D printers are expensive. You might have to shell out thousands of dollars to get such a machine. This adds to the cost of the 3D printing process. 

For many, these concerns about the high cost of 3D printing might be valid. But you can’t ignore the gains of 3D printing, especially when used for customized designs, not mass-produced items. By opting for 3D printing, you spend less time on creating intricate products than you’d use if you settled for traditional manufacturing processes. 

Best 3D Printers For Beginners

Anyone looking to start their 3D journey shouldn’t settle for just any 3D printer. To avoid spending long hours putting the machine together, you have to go for those units that are easy to set up. Of course, you can’t ignore the quality of the print in your search. 

Considering the intricate nature of the 3D printing technology, it’s important to pick a machine that’s easy to learn. Here are some of the best 3D printers for beginners:

  1. FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro

The FlashForge has speed and performance in its favor, and any beginner will appreciate these things. With the 3D printer’s immense capabilities, enthusiasts and professionals alike will be highly pleased.

Beginners will be pleased to own this 3D printer since there’s a warranty provided. The customer support is also impressive – their technical crew is only an email away. 

  1. Da Vinci Mini 3D Printer

Don’t underestimate this 3D printer due to its small size. It has a lot of perks that can rival even the bigger machines. Beginners will marvel at how easy it is to carry – no more worries about the cumbersome nature of these machines. The small size of this printer makes it perfect for those struggling with space. 

The aluminum printer bed of this Da Vinci Mini 3D printer is an indication of its suitability for all manner of 3D printing. And if you’re worried about the environment, this 3D printer uses PLA plastics, so it’s less likely to compound our climate change woes. 

  1. QIDI Technology X-one2 3D Printer

The X-one2 is a beginner-friendly machine. You can easily use the device within a few minutes of setup. The printer technology is the single extruder variant, and this influences the quality of the 3D print. 

This 3D printer uses multiple plastic filaments, so you’re afforded the luxury of choice. Beginners will find the touchscreen with distinct icons quite user-friendly. 

Qidi boasts of personalized customer support, so anyone starting their 3D printing journey will be pleased with their easy reach. 

3D Printing Service

The 3D printing service offers you the opportunity to transform 2-dimensional models into 3D prints. Here, everything relies a great deal on the 3D printer. The machine rearranges layers of print – through the software’s input – to produce a final 3D print based on the predefined image. 

The endgame of a 3D printing service is to provide a 3D print that’s a replica of the crafted image. It’s a complicated process that goes from image creation to 3D products. 

The 3D service is expected to rival other manufacturing processes like injection molding – and it does so favorably in many ways. For instance, while traditional manufacturing processes take days to perfect a finished product, a 3D printing service, being more precise, takes a few hours to deliver the finished product. 

The benefits of a 3D printing service are massive. You worry less about errors as the process is highly precise, more than most traditional manufacturing techniques. More manufacturers are inclined to use a 3D printing service rather than use the old ways of production. 

3D printing reduces the man-hours spent on prototyping. The printer doesn’t need to be manned every second. Operators can put in less work, and the manufacturer pays less. This results in an affordable final product. 

Despite the gains of 3D printing, it might take some time to learn the ropes. But if you can’t deal with the long waiting period, look in the direction of a reliable 3D printing service vendor. 3D printer prices don’t help either. The decent ones can be quite expensive, and this can deter those looking to produce something using the 3D printing route. 

Of course, the cost might be a serious hurdle towards getting a 3D printing service, so keep that in mind while searching. 

Before you settle for a 3D printing service from a provider, you should do a background check on the company. Credible outfits with an outstanding reputation often come at a steep price, so it’d be wise to know your budget before reaching out to them. 

Thingiverse 

Thingiverse is a familiar name in 3D printing. It’s a community of like-minded, 3D enthusiasts sharing their designs for the world to see. On Thingiverse, designs reign supreme. 

Beginners will find Thingiverse to be a worthwhile platform due to the focus on offering everyone – no matter their experience – the opportunity to submit or replicate 3D prints. 

The use of the Creative Commons license – which covers all submissions on the platform – keeps the snapping fangs of copyright infringement away. It’s open-source for a reason!

The great thing about opting for the countless designs on Thingiverse is it’s time-saving. Why go through the pains of creating a design when it’s right there on Thingiverse for the taking? And the quality of the designs can be top-shelf stuff, so there’s no reason to sidestep the platform. 

The undoing of Thingiverse is the negligence of its handlers. The supposed giant in the 3D design collection niche is left drifting away, like a shipwreck at sea. What should be a community-driven effort is currently left at the mercy of uninterested individuals. 

Thingiverse might still have the largest collection of 3D designs, but it’s losing its appeal. From bugs pitching their tents on the site to the long loading time and numerous crashes, Thingiverse appears to be heading for destination F! 

As Thingiverse’s demise nears reality, alternatives have sprung up to fill the gap. Most of these platforms have a sizeable amount of free designs uploaded by users – though theirs is nothing compared to what’s obtainable on Thingiverse. 

A lot of the Thingiverse alternatives have a user-friendly interface. They’re easier to navigate, better managed, and the content isn’t the run-of-the-mill type. Some of these platforms even offer users the opportunity to get paid for their designs. This way, designers are motivated to upload their designs to the platform. 

Some Thingiverse rivals have competitions where winners get rewarded with prizes. All aimed at increasing engagement – one of the flaws of the Thingiverse community. 

How To Work A 3D Printer

If you’re still in limbo on how to maximize the use of your 3D printer, here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know. 

  1. Set up the 3D printer

Most 3D printers don’t have to be assembled. You just have to pick the site for the machine, confirm its closeness to a power source, and that’s it. 

  1. Get the plate ready

The plate has to be able to support and hold printed objects, so making the surface adhesive is recommended. This can be achieved using specific items like polyimide tape, hairspray, and others. 

  1. Test-run your printer

Like every new piece of equipment, you need to warm up your recently purchased printer. 

If you’re new to the 3D printing world, then you have to choose the filament used wisely. Some filaments are more meticulous to use, and this can be a handful for beginners. Ideally, PLA is more suited for beginners as there isn’t a lot of rules guiding its use. 

  1. Managing filament use

How the 3D printer handles filament differs with brands. Some offer users the choice to pack and unpack filament from the machine separately, but others are more rigid in their stance. 

Before you go on to load the machine with filament, it’s important to check for the presence of filaments as such can influence the quality of your work. In a situation where remnant filament is found, using the release button helps get rid of such. 

Depending on the nature of your 3D printer, you can load the filament into the distinct compartment or pack the material into the extruder. 

Before you pack the extruder with filament, ensure it’s properly warmed up. Afterward, get some filament into it using the release button. 

  1. Keeping the plate uniform

The intricacy of plate uniformity shouldn’t be handled with kid gloves. Despite the undesired timeline and the stress involved in achieving plate uniformity, it shouldn’t be neglected. A plate that’s not uniform can affect the 3D print created. 

Depending on the plate, you might want to confirm the adjusting screws are firmly in position. Manipulate these screws to achieve the uniformity of the plate. 

With a uniformed printing plate attained, there’s the X-height to tend to as well. Ensuring the X-height is at a certain level is crucial towards getting the right filament flow. The X-height position determines if the printing plate stays in place. 

Since the 3D printer is more electronic than mechanical, its software component has to be carried along. For instance, you need to enter the height of the plate so the printer gets an idea of how far away the nozzle is.

Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.