I am now into the second week with my Maker Select 3D and I’ve started to pull together a list of essential tools to help printing go a lot smoother. This list is by no means exhaustive, there are plenty of extra’s you can get that will end up costing more than your printer, but with these basic tools and supplies I have managed some really nice prints.
Print Bed Care:
One of the most important things in my 3D printing endeavours is keeping the print on the bed. Print beds are often made of Glass, Ceramic or in my case Aluminium and as such can be prone to scratches and generally be quite slippy. Click on any of the blue coloured headlines to buy these tools at Amazon.
Blue Painters Tape acts a great cover for most print beds. They do say that you don’t need it for heated beds like the maker select but I have found printing directly on to the surface to be problematic. Builders tape can be bought in several widths, I find the 2 inch one perfect for my 8 inch plate, and is a much cheaper option than the official plate sheets from the manufacturer. Remember though that a smooth surface is very important. The trick with the tape is to have the pieces touching but not overlapping on your bed. While blue tape is great for protecting your plate it can be a little smooth causing lift on the corners of your print. Which is why you need…
Hair Spray and Glue Sticks! Sounds weird right? But A glue stick and/or Hairspray is incredibly helpful when 3D printing. The soft nature of the adhesive is enough to hold your print firmly to the bed without destroying the surface you are working with.
Hairspray seems to be the preferred adhesive for the glass plate crowd. I have used hairspray myself to great effect, though I still worry about spraying it around the delicate mechanisms in the Maker Select. The nozzle and motors are very easy to disrupt and layers of dried hairspray can’t be good for them.
Glue sticks on the other hand are easy to control and have given me the best coverage on my blue tape covered print bed. A simple layer of washable glue stick will hold your print firmly to the bed while allowing an easy peel when the the work is done. Don’t worry about buying the expensive stuff either I use Elmer’s washable and it works perfectly.
Scrapers/Pallette Knife: Now if you have managed to get everything I have already said working right, and I’m sure you have you bright cookie you, you will need a way to remove you perfect print from the plate. I would suggest at least 2 sizes of scraper for this as just a large one can cause dame on smaller prints. I had just one large scraper at first and managed to damage some small prints fairly badly.
Keep your scrapers sharp as well clean so you reduce the risk of tearing your tape or worse, damaging your print bed.
Sundries: Craft tweezers are super helpful when 3D printing. For the simplest of tasks like pulling off stray filament to connecting fiddly wires they are a godsend. While not the most important of the tools on this list they will help you keep your machine and prints looking good.
Another helpful item to have, while not strictly a tool is a sealable box and silica gel packs. PLA and ABS are both semi-porous and over time can swell if left in the open. A simple $3 box from the dollar store and some of the silica packs you get in just about everything these days will help keep it in tip top condition.
I’ll give a little mention to Allen keys as well here. Although your machine will inevitably come with the right size Allen Keys for all it’s major parts, making sure you have access to them is essential. A 3D printer can be working for hours on end with no respite and as such the screws and nuts can become loose. Keep your set of Allen Keys handy at all times.
In another article I would discuss the non essential tools of 3D printing. Those tools, like deburring, exact-o knives and sandpaper, are important for helping your finished print look the best it can be once made. The tools I have already mentioned are here to make sure your prints actually.. well.. print.
If you have any questions about the tools I’ve mentioned here or any 3D printing question you would like me to answer please let me know in the comments.
Image source: Amazon.com