3D Printing FAQs

How Big can I print?

ConnorMakes uses Prusa I3 mk2.5 printers for print processing with a usable volume of 25 x 21 x 20 cm or 9.84 x 8.3 x 8 in

What Materials are available?

PLA:

PLA (Polylactic Acid) is one of the two most commonly used desktop 3D printing filaments. It is the “default” recommended material for many desktop 3D printers, and with good reason – PLA is useful in a broad range of printing applications, has the virtue of being both odorless and low-warp. PLA filament is also one of the more eco-friendly 3D printer materials available; it is made from annually renewable resources (corn-starch) and requires less energy to process compared to traditional (petroleum-based) plastics. Outside of 3D printing, PLA plastic is often used in food containers, such as candy wrappers, and biodegradable medical implants, such as sutures.  Click here for more detailed specifications

Advantages:

  • The most affordable option
  • Produces one of the best cosmetic finishes
  • The most eco-friendly printing material offered
  • handles bridging and overhangs well
  • Support material is easy to remove
  • little stringing

Disadvantages:

  • Will begin to deform around 60-65 degrees Celsius (would deform in a hot car)
  • Damaged by UV light
  • Brittle when compared to other plastics

PETG:

PETG filament is an industrial strength filament with several great features. Its strength is much higher than PLA and it is FDA approved for food containers and tools used for food consumption. Like PLA it barely warps when printed. PETG filament is not biodegradable, but it is 100% reclaimable. It’s known for its clarity and is also very good at bridging. PETG is often substituted in place of PLA where the part would be subject to higher temperatures becoming soft and deforming around 80 degrees Celsius. In addition to its temperature resistence, PETG can readily be solvent welded. Cyclohexanone, Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and possibly acetone can be used to bond parts, unlike PLA. Click here for more detailed specifications

Advantages:

  • Can endure higher temperatures than PLA
  • Is stronger than PLA
  • Can be solvent welded
  • when printed thin can be very flexible
  • Produces a glossy or sometimes semi-clear finish

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive than PLA
  • Very prone to stringing
  • Thicker parts are prone to shattering on impact

What is Resolution?

Resolution is not what you might think it is in the 3D Printing world. Traditionally, resolution refers to how many pixels can fit into a small area, to create a clear and crisp picture. But of course, this is in 2D. In 3D, resolution refers to the Z axis. The printer builds the model by laying down layer after layer of material until you have your final shape. The more layers you have, the better the layers will match and curves you have in your model. See the image below: 

As you can see, the more slices there are, the closer it matches the curve. Keep in mind, that if your model is made up of right angles, and sharp corners, you have little need for a High resolution print. 

What is Overhang?

There are no ABCs of 3D Printing, instead there are YHTs. 3D printing can accomplish a lot, but it is not magic. Not yet anyway. So with that in mind we have to take care in designing our models for optimal printing. Overhangs occur when the printers nozzle trys to lay down material, but there is nothing underneath. Here is another visual:As you can see, the Y prints fine because of the layer on top only extends out a little bit beyond the previous layer. Typically a 45° angle will yield the best results, but can go as far as 60°. Next we have the H, which lets us print at a 90° degree angle due to the fact that it has the other side of the “Bridge” to catch onto. If the bridge is too long, then it would need to be supported with support material. Last we have the T. The T is tricky because unlike the H, there is no “other side” to attach to. This means the printer nozzle has to lay down plastic and turn it around mid air, and return. If there is no support material, the plastic will not be able to hold its form and fall to the print bed. Orientation of the model can play a big part in eliminating the need for support material, but with some geometries, there is no getting around it. 

What is “Support Material”?

Support material can help make an unprintable object printable, but it is not without its trade-offs. When given the option, it is always better to try and print without support material, however there are some objects that just simply require it. If this is the case, then it is important to know the effect that the support material will have on your model. Firstly, let’s take a look at a model that should have been printed with support material, but wasn’t.

As you can see, the first few layers of the overhang are a complete mess. However oddly, sometimes a printer will be able to recover from this and begin to print normally.  Now let’s take a look at a model that has been supported, and the support material removed. 

The model has been turned upside down so you can see that it is still not as perfect as it could be. The support material has been removed, but there are still remnants left behind. This can often be cleaned up with some work with an exacto knife. With delicate models, support material is best avoided at all costs, as there is a fair chance you might destroy your model in removing the support structures. 

What is the Average Cost?

The cost of the printing services is dependent on the model being printed. This is not a question of complexity as much as it is of Geometric Volume. The ConnorMakes order widget is an algorithm that determines your models Geometric Volume, which tells us how much material is needed, and how long it will take to print. From this information, the price is generated. It is extraordinarily difficult to estimate the cost of a print by description alone, which is why I encourage you to use our order widget if you are curious as to how much your model will cost to print. There is no obligation to purchase anything if you upload your model. In fact, this is the same algorithm that ConnorMakes uses for its quotes if you were to send us your file over email.  

Thank You

A big thank you to Jason over at Jinxbot for letting me use a lot of his material for this FAQs page. If you’re down in the bay area he is an awesome source for 3D prints.

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