Do you have a creative side and a love for all things technology? Look no further! My English professor has tasked my class with prototyping, designing, and 3D printing an object of our choosing. Since I am student at the University of Florida, I am lucky enough to have the option of borrowing a 3D printer from one of the libraries on campus. Take a stroll through my step-by-step instructions on 3D printing an object of your choice.
Step 1: Decide What Unique Object to 3D Print
Take some time to ponder ideas. Feel free to post on Facebook or other social media pages asking for ideas. After deep meditation, decide what you want to print.
As the title indicates, I will guide you step-by-step in 3D printing the Deathly Hallows symbol since I am passionate about all things Harry Potter. Continue reading for the best step-by-step guide in 3D printing your very own Deathly Hallows!
Step 2: Design Online
In order to print in 3D, you need to use a design software. Fortunately, free and user-friendly design software exists online. One such website is Tinkercad, which enables all users to create unlimited types of objects.
Click here to go to the Tinkercad website.
Step 3: Create Your Free Account
Upon arriving at the Tinkercad site, click the ‘sign up’ button in the top right corner of the page to begin the process of creating your account.
On the next page, select the correct information and click ‘Next.’
Entering your email address, a password, check the box that proves you have read and agree to their terms of service and privacy statement, and finally click ‘Create Account.’
Great, you have officially created a Tinkercad account!
Step 4: Practice
You now have access to everything Tinkercad has to offer.
Tinkercad automatically guides you through a tutorial project that you can practice on, but you can choose to skip the tutorial. I highly recommend going through the tutorial.
There are a number of tutorials that show you how to use Tinkercad. When you are comfortable using the tools, it is time to begin your design.
Step 5: Starting a New Design
In the upper righthand corner of the page, click on the circle with a person in it, and then click on “New” to create a new design.
Step 6: Create Your Design
When it comes to printing in 3D, the bottom of the model should be flat instead of round otherwise the printer will have to print extra support material to holds up the unsupported parts of the model. This is why I recommend designing the Deathly Hallows as a flat object.
Are you confident in your creative skills? Yes? Feel free to design the Deathly Hallows from scratch, however, you can import designs to Tinkercad so proceed to the next step.
Step 7: Download Correct File Type
Since Tinkercad will allow you to import designs, I am providing you the correct file type needed. Get the file by clicking "Download" below.
Step 8: Importing the Design
Now that you have the supported file on your computer, click ‘Import’ in the upper right corner of the blank workplane page of Tinkercad.
Drag and drop the correct file to the dotted box. Options will become available.
It is recommended that you adjust the dimensions to 50 or under. Tinkercad defaults to mm for dimensions. In the box with the larger dimension, change it to 50 and the other dimension will automatically change. If you leave the dimensions larger than 50mm, it will take longer to print.
Now, click ‘Import’
Step 9: Make Changes
If you want to or need to make changes to the design, like color or size, now is the time to do so.
Verify that the bottom of the shape is on or touching the workplane, so that the printer will print your design correctly.
For faster printing, change the height or thickness of your model to 3 or 4mm. If you have the time, you are free to leave it thicker.
Since I want it to sit on my desk as a souvenir, I plan to print it 10mm thick.
Step 10: Export
Now that your design is ready to print, you need to export the it to a file the 3D printing software can understand.
Click the ‘export’ button, to the right of the ‘import’ button in the top right corner of the page.
A box will pop up. Verify that “Everything in the design” is selected.
There are a couple of file options for downloading your design. The type of file you want to download depends on the 3D printer. The printer I will be using works better with the STL file.
Click on the file you want to use. It will download immediately.
Step 11: Obtaining a Printer
If you’re a student, like me, your school may have 3D printers you can check out and take home with you.
Go to the Library Reference or Student Services desk.
Present your student ID and the staff member will get you a 3D printer to take home for a few days!
The printer may come with filament. If it does not, you can order the color of your choice on Amazon.
Step 12: The Software
The instructions I am providing are for Mac users. If you have windows, there is an extra step involved. *Note: Your computer must have a USB port to use the printer and its software.
The 3D printer I am using is a Printrbot Play model.
Click here to go to the Printrbot software download page.
Step 13: Download and Install Part 1
a) Click ‘download’ in the big red box. *Note: if your computer is Windows, you must first download the required USB driver, located just below the Printrbot software download button.
b) Open your Downloads folder in Finder.
c) Locate and open the file you just downloaded.
Step 14: Download and Install Part 2
Open the ‘Mac Users’ folder.
Double click the ‘Cura-15.04.6-MacOS.dmg’ file.
Drag the Cura app to the Applications folder for installation.
Check that your “Security and Privacy” settings are set to allow you to open apps downloaded from anywhere and “Energy Saver” settings are set to “Never.” If the display goes to sleep, the 3D printer will stop printing and you will have to start the printing cycle from the beginning.
Step 15: Setting Up the Software
1) Open the Cura app
2) Select your language and click “Next”
3) Select “Printrbot” and click “Next”
4) Select “Play” for which Printrbot machine you have and click “Next”
5) Click “Finish” *Note: the software may ask if you want to download a newer version of the software. Click “No”
6) When the Cura User Interface is open, select File>Preferences, change the printing window type to “Pronterface UI,” and click “OK” to apply the setting.
Step 16: Using the Software
When the Cura User Interface opens, a robot appears for test printing. You can choose to test print the robot.
When you are ready to print your Deathly Hallows design, click the robot and hit the “Delete” button on your key board to get rid of it. Or you can right click the robot>Delete Object
Now you have an empty workspace.
Finally, click “Load” (located next to the disk in the upper left corner of the platform), find, select your design, and click “open.” In my case it is “Fantastic Bojo.stl.”
Verify that the Layer Height (mm) is 0.2064. (This is the layer height that works best with the Printrbot Play printer.)
Step 17: Setting Up the Printer
Locate a flat surface near a power outlet that is big enough for the printer and your computer.
The time as arrived for you open the 3D printer case and place the printer on the table top.
Apply the blue tape to the printer bed, if it did not have it already applied.
Connect the power cable adapter to the power input on the 3D printer. It is marked “POWER.”
Plug the 3-prong power cord into a 3-prong power outlet
Carefully plug the micro USB into the port labeled “Micro USB” on the printer and the USB into your computer.
Step 18: Loading the Filament
The library may give you some white filament. If you want to use a different color, you can order it online from Amazon and have it delivered in just a day or two. I am using blue filament.
Place the filament on the reel so it will rotate counterclockwise as the printer pulls the filament.
In the Cura app, click the “Print with USB” icon to open the printer interface, which only displays if the software and driver are correctly installed.
Once the interface is open, change the temperature to 210 ˚C. *Note: if it flatlines, press the up arrow once to reactivate it.
Insert the end of the filament in the hole on the top of the fan shroud, while doing this press the black lever on the side of the printer head to insert the filament further.
Next, twist the threaded rod counterclockwise until the printer head is about 3mm from the print bed.
Now that the filament is loaded, click “Extrude 10” every 5 seconds until you are positive the filament is pulling smoothly.
Remove the excess filament from the print bed, carefully as the printer head is EXTREMELY hot!
Step 19: Printing
Now click “Print” and watch your work take shape!
The printer will calibrate and align itself before printing.
Step 20: Finishing Up
After the printer is finished, click “Retract 10” on the printer interface once every 5 seconds. Do this as many times as you need to, until you can pull the filament out.
Unplug all the cables carefully.
Wait for the printer to cool completely before putting it away.
Congratulations!! You now have a finished 3D printed Deathly Hallows!!