These days, most of us are stuck at home in the midst of on and off lockdowns, and it’s the best time to look for exciting indoor hobbies. Here’s an idea — 3D printing!
3D printing is a fun hobby that’s low-cost, easy to learn, and highly engaging. It provides a broad pallet to channel creativity with three-dimensional designs. You can also print objects that can be useful at home or with an advanced skill level, produce marketable 3D-printed models.
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know before getting serious about a 3D printing hobby. Let’s get started!
3D Printing Is Based in Math & Science
If you have a passion for technical subjects, like science and mathematics, you can quickly become quite passionate about 3D printing! And for introverts, the technical challenges of 3D printing may serve well for your love of staying at home!
3D printing projects can require a careful application of mathematics, geometry, and physics principles. Besides, it’s also a solo activity which means you don’t have to rely on other people to progress your skills.
While 3D printing is technical, the difficulty levels accelerate at your own pace. You can start with simpler models and gradually design more complex ones as you gain confidence. The activity has a pretty high skill cap, so you’ll always have lots to learn regardless of how advanced you become.
Tips For Safe 3D Printing
You might think a 3D printer and some designs can’t physically hurt you, but you’d be surprised. Before I discuss any other aspect of 3D printing, let’s quickly go over the necessary safety precautions you must take with this hobby.
Here are some tips to be mindful of your safety:
3D Printers Can Run Extremely Hot
The print beds on some 3D printers can run at temperatures as high as 200 °C to 400 °C (392 °F to 752 °F), which can inflict severe burns on your skin. When it’s running, make sure you keep the printer well out of reach of children or pets.
3D Printers Pose a Fire Hazard
3D printers, just like any other demanding electrical appliance, have some level of fire risk associated with them. Because of this, you never leave a 3D printer unattended while it’s running.
Use 3D Printers in a Room With Ventilation or Air Filtration
3D printing can produce toxic fumes, which are harmful emissions coming from the filament used. Operating in a room with good ventilation or air filtration is necessary to address this risk factor.
It would be best if you also had a 3D printer enclosure to protect you from these toxic fumes’ direct harmful impact.
Use Default Settings at First
3D printer manufacturers have implemented more and more safety measures into their products. However, most of these can be overridden if you tweak around the settings without the necessary knowledge. It’s best to operate your 3D printer at default settings, especially as a beginner.
Estimated Cost of Entry-Level 3D Printers
That’s because their use-cases widely differ. For some, it’s only an artsy-craftsy hobby, while some companies are literally 3D-printing houses! 3D printers have one of the broadest price ranges in all electronic appliances.
Depending on the type of 3D printer you’re looking for, prices can range between $200 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, in your case, an entry-level 3D printer probably suits you best. The cheapest ones in the market are FDM, and they’re sufficiently capable of handling all of your 3D printing projects at home.
With 3D printers, being more expensive doesn’t always mean it’s better quality. Many factors determine the performance of a 3D printer, including its functions, features, brand, and whether it’s an SLA or FDM printer.
Make sure you read the reviews of the printer you’re buying. Be mindful not to fall into the marketing of more expensive ones, as you’ll certainly be able to meet all of your entry-level needs with a cheap FDM printer.
However, if you’re serious about 3D printing and want a more future-proof option, it might be worth upping your budget.
Tools Needed To Start 3D Printing
Like any other hobby, you need specific tools to be well-equipped for your 3D printing projects. The most obvious one is a 3D printer, but that’s not all. However, all essential tools for 3D printing are pretty affordable.
The list includes:
- Adhesives like glue or tape
- Storage containers for your filament
- Tweezers for cleaning
- Scraper blade to remove prints off of your 3D printer bed
Some 3D printers come with a basic set of tools included in the box, but if yours doesn’t have it, you can get the Suteck 3D Printer Tool Kit from Amazon.com. It includes all the tools listed above plus more and a storage bag to fit them all in.
Keep in mind that adhesives, spatulas, cleaning brushes, and containers are only beginner-level tools. As 3D printing transitions from a hobby to one of your advanced skills, you might need a more professional toolkit.
Practical Use of 3D Printing as a Hobby
‘Fun’ isn’t the only form of utility you can get out of 3D printing. When it comes to practicality, there aren’t many other indoor hobbies that beat 3D printing. As your skill progresses, you can produce almost any small-scale object you might need around the house.
You can make stuff like utensils, hangers, cups, and plates out of plastic as interesting 3D printing projects. You can even start 3D print plastic toys or action figures to sell online at advanced skill levels!
3D printing is one of the most exciting hobbies you can pick up, especially if you’re looking for something technically challenging. Not only will you thoroughly enjoy your projects as you move higher and higher on the skill chart, but you can also get lots of practical utility out of it.
Besides printing useful plastic items for your home, you can also produce marketable items using your 3D printer. However, getting to that level requires quite a high level of skill — but that’s all the more motivation to get good at it. All the best!