Get Started: How to Get Something 3D Printed

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If you have a design that you want to turn into a physical object, 3D printing is a great option. But what if you don’t own a 3D printer? Don’t worry, there are many ways to get your design printed without having to invest in a printer yourself.

One option is to use a 3D printing service. These businesses specialize in printing 3D designs for customers. You can upload your design to their website, select the material you want it printed in, and they will print and ship the object to you. Some popular 3D printing services include Shapeways, Sculpteo, and i.materialise.

Another option is to visit a local makerspace or library that has a 3D printer available for public use. These spaces often have 3D printers available for a small fee or even for free. You can bring your design to the space, use their equipment to print it, and take it home with you. This is a great option if you want to learn more about 3D printing or if you only need to print something occasionally.

Understanding 3D Printing

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process of creating three-dimensional objects from digital files. Unlike traditional manufacturing methods that involve subtracting material from a block or mold, 3D printing builds an object layer by layer. This allows for more intricate and complex designs to be created with ease.

Types of 3D Printing Technologies

There are several types of 3D printing technologies available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM): This is the most common 3D printing technology used for hobbyist and consumer-grade printers. It works by melting a plastic filament and extruding it layer by layer to create the object.

  • Stereolithography (SLA): This technology uses a laser to cure a liquid resin into a solid object. It produces high-quality, detailed prints but can be more expensive and less user-friendly than FDM.

  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): SLS uses a laser to sinter powdered material, such as metal or nylon, into a solid object. It is often used for industrial applications and can produce strong, durable parts.

  • Digital Light Processing (DLP): DLP is similar to SLA but uses a projector to cure the resin instead of a laser. It can produce high-quality prints quickly but may have a smaller build volume.

Overall, 3D printing is an exciting technology that has the potential to revolutionize the way we create and manufacture objects. By understanding the different types of 3D printing technologies available, you can choose the best one for your needs and create amazing things from the comfort of your own home.

Preparing Your 3D Model

Before you can start 3D printing, you need to prepare your 3D model. This involves creating or downloading a 3D model, checking for printability, and optimizing the model for printing.

Creating or Downloading a 3D Model

If you’re creating your own 3D model, you can use a 3D modeling software like Blender, SketchUp, or Tinkercad. These programs allow you to create a 3D model from scratch using various tools and techniques.

If you don’t have the skills or time to create your own 3D model, you can download one from various online repositories like Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory, or GrabCAD. These websites have a vast collection of 3D models that you can download for free or purchase.

Checking for Printability

Once you have your 3D model, the next step is to check if it’s printable. Not all 3D models are suitable for printing, and some may require modifications to make them printable.

To check for printability, you can use a software like MeshLab or Netfabb. These programs can analyze your 3D model and identify any issues like holes, non-manifold geometry, or intersecting faces that can cause printing problems.

Optimizing the Model for Printing

After checking for printability, you may need to optimize your 3D model for printing. This involves making modifications to the model to ensure that it prints correctly and efficiently.

Some ways to optimize your 3D model for printing include:

  • Scaling the model to fit your printer’s build volume
  • Adding support structures to prevent overhangs and ensure stability
  • Hollowing out the model to reduce material usage and printing time
  • Orienting the model to minimize the need for support structures and ensure proper adhesion to the build plate

By optimizing your 3D model for printing, you can ensure that the final print is of high quality and meets your expectations.

In summary, preparing your 3D model for printing involves creating or downloading a 3D model, checking for printability, and optimizing the model for printing. By following these steps, you can ensure that your 3D print is successful and meets your requirements.

Choosing a 3D Printing Service

If you need to get something 3D printed, choosing the right 3D printing service is key. Here are some tips to help you find the best service for your needs.

Researching 3D Printing Services

Before you choose a 3D printing service, it’s important to do your research. Look for reviews and ratings from other customers to get an idea of the quality of the service. Check the company’s website to see what types of 3D printing technologies they offer and what materials they can print with. You may also want to look for services that offer design assistance or file repair services if you don’t have experience with 3D modeling.

Comparing Prices and Services

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential 3D printing services, it’s time to compare prices and services. Look for services that offer transparent pricing and detailed information about their pricing structure. Some services charge by the hour, while others charge by the cubic centimeter of material used. Make sure you understand the pricing structure and any additional fees, such as setup fees or rush fees.

You should also compare the services offered by each company. Some services offer a wider range of 3D printing technologies and materials, while others specialize in specific types of printing. Consider your project requirements and choose a service that can meet your needs.

Placing Your Order

Once you’ve chosen a 3D printing service, it’s time to place your order. Make sure you have a 3D model file in the correct format for the service you’ve chosen. If you need design assistance or file repair services, make sure you request them before placing your order.

When placing your order, make sure you provide all the necessary details, such as the desired material, color, and finish. You should also specify any additional requirements, such as the orientation of the print or the level of detail required.

Finally, make sure you review your order details carefully before submitting your order. Double-check the pricing and any additional fees to make sure you understand the total cost of your order. Once you’ve submitted your order, sit back and wait for your 3D printed part to arrive!

Printing Your 3D Model

Once you have created or downloaded your 3D model, the next step is to get it printed. In this section, we will discuss the steps involved in printing your 3D model, including submitting it for printing, monitoring the printing process, and post-processing your 3D model.

Submitting Your 3D Model for Printing

The first step in printing your 3D model is to submit it for printing. There are several ways to do this, depending on whether you have your own 3D printer or you are using a printing service.

If you have your own 3D printer, you can use slicing software to prepare your model for printing. Slicing software takes your 3D model and converts it into a series of layers that can be printed one at a time. Once your model has been sliced, you can transfer the file to your 3D printer and start the printing process.

If you are using a printing service, you will need to upload your 3D model to the service’s website. The website will typically provide instructions on how to prepare your model for printing, including file format requirements and other specifications. Once your model has been uploaded, you can select the printing options you want and place your order.

Monitoring the Printing Process

Once your 3D model has been submitted for printing, you will need to monitor the printing process to ensure that everything is going smoothly. If you are using your own 3D printer, you can typically monitor the progress of your print job using the printer’s built-in display or through a smartphone app.

If you are using a printing service, you may be able to track the progress of your print job through the service’s website. Some services also provide real-time video feeds or other monitoring options that allow you to see your 3D model being printed.

Post-Processing Your 3D Model

After your 3D model has been printed, you will need to perform some post-processing to clean it up and prepare it for use. The specific post-processing steps will depend on the type of 3D printer you used and the material you printed with.

If you used a filament-based 3D printer, you may need to remove any support structures that were printed along with your model. You may also need to sand or polish the surface of your model to remove any rough spots or imperfections.

If you used a resin-based 3D printer, you will need to rinse your model in isopropyl alcohol to remove any excess resin. You may also need to cure your model under UV light to fully harden the resin.

In conclusion, printing your 3D model requires submitting it for printing, monitoring the printing process, and post-processing it once it has been printed. By following these steps, you can create high-quality 3D prints that are ready for use in a variety of applications.


In conclusion, 3D printing is an exciting technology that has revolutionized the way we think about manufacturing and design. With a 3D printer, you can create virtually anything you can imagine, from simple toys and figurines to complex mechanical parts and medical implants.

If you’re interested in getting something 3D printed, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, you’ll need to create a digital 3D model of your object using specialized software. There are many different programs to choose from, ranging from simple and free to complex and expensive.

Once you have your 3D model, you’ll need to choose a printing material and a printing technology. There are many different materials to choose from, including plastics, metals, and even food. Each material has its own unique properties and advantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your project.

Finally, you’ll need to find a 3D printing service or purchase your own 3D printer. There are many different services available online, ranging from large commercial printing companies to small hobbyist shops. Alternatively, you can purchase your own 3D printer and print your objects at home.

Overall, 3D printing is a fascinating technology that has the potential to change the way we think about manufacturing and design. Whether you’re a hobbyist, a designer, or an engineer, there’s something for everyone in the world of 3D printing. So why not give it a try and see what you can create?