Getting Started with 3D Printing
In this interview with CubeForme we learned something more about 3D printing. Enjoy!
What exactly is 3D printing?
Although there are different methods and machines, 3D printing essentially boils down to a manufacturing technology that makes three dimensional physical objects from digital files.
The process involves the upload of a CAD design file into the 3D printer, which then applies filament material, layer by layer, onto its print space until the object is fully constructed.
Although 3D printing can exist on an industrial grade scale, it is often used on a smaller in-house level for prototyping purposes.
What are the general applications of 3D printing?
3D printing is a revolutionary manufacturing process because of its accessibility.
For the first time ever, inventors and designers can prototype their projects with more ease and less cost than ever before.
While slow, it is efficient and effective in helping products come to life.
Some popular applications of 3D printing include prosthetics, machine parts, and art.
Why did you want to start 3D printing?
Seeing so many crazy 3D printable objects online, the creative potential of 3D printing really stood out to us.
Given the growth and potential of the industry, we formed our startup, CubeForme, with 3D printing at the center of it.
It was hitting two birds with one stone – having a unique premise for our business and getting to explore an exciting new technology.
How does your business utilize 3D printing?
That being said, 3D printing is the foundation for our products and the core of our vision. Our company’s goal is to connect 3D designers and their creations with a broader audience.
We’re all about promoting an appreciation of 3D printing and the very talented designers using the technology to push out innovative creations.
How did you decide which 3D printer to get?
There’s a rather wide spectrum of 3D printers, with differences among printers including price, size, speed, printing technology and much more.
Given the manufacturing needs of our company (printing larger quantities of smaller objects), we opted for a Delta style FDM printer.
We chose the Rostock MAX v2, for its large size and efficiency at its price point of roughly $1000.
It came as an unassembled kit, which not only meant a cheaper price but the opportunity to learn the machine from the inside-out in assembling it.
Recently, we purchased the JumpStart 3D Printer for $600 as a smaller supplementary printer to assist our Rostock MAX with order fulfillment and give us leeway to take on side printing projects.
What difficulties have you had with 3D printing?
To start, it took a solid two weeks to get our printer assembled. From then, there were some moments of trouble with calibration and the completion of prints.
One big issue with 3D printing as a whole is how long it takes to complete prints.
A mistake that happens while something is being printed can mess up the whole print. For instance, we spent a solid 5 hours printing a sculpture of a fox…just to end up with a headless abomination.
That was just one of many messed-up, incomplete prints.
What are some of your favorite models to print?
I’m not sure, since the kinds of things we’ve printed have really been all over the place.
The clocks designed by Luis Picarzo, CubeForme’s featured designer for the Revolution Box, have been pretty enjoyable to print.
They have incredible designs (one has a helicopter look and another has a labyrinth pattern), but more importantly, there’s a special sensation in finishing their prints and seeing them become fully operational with the simple slap-op of a clock motor and hands.
What is the coolest thing about 3D printing?
To us, definitely the huge number of applications. On a global scale, you can see 3D printing being used for massive construction projects and prosthetic developments.
And just looking at the kinds of 3D printable objects being made, there’s a fantastic spectrum of artistry and function – ranging from replicas of movie characters to more abstract aesthetics to usable household tools.
Where is 3D printing going in the future?
It’s difficult to say, but the industry and its breadth of applications continue to grow daily.
With this growth comes an improvement in the capabilities of 3D printing as a technology, namely its speed and quality.
The number and size of projects undertaken will get larger, as more people get their hands on 3D printers.
3D printing, with its core functionality of accessible prototyping, will become a more dominant form of manufacturing.
What advice would you offer for people trying to start 3D printing?
Consult online guides and videos for reference, and take advantage of any local resources.
For instance, there are a number of free-to-use 3D printers at the colleges we attend (USC and UCI).
But above all, have fun and embrace the learning that comes with the experience!