by Peter Hill
If you’re new to 3D printing, then you had best get ready for what is going to be an interesting journey going forward. However, it will be an even easier journey if you have the right tools to take you forward. These are tools that you will use over and over again and they will always come in handy. Here we have compiled a list of ten of the most important tools. Of course, you don’t need to go on an all-out buying spree and get all of them at once. However, as you amass tools over time your toolkit will look a lot like the one below.
This is by far the most basic covering you will use for the surfaces of print beds. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to help 3D printed objects adhere to print beds better. It also makes it very easy to remove the 3D print once it’s finished and it will protect your bed from nasty scratches.
The best tape to use is the blue painter’s tape. Make sure to look for something that’s at least 50 mm or 2 inches wide. You will need fewer strips to cover your print bed if you get wider.
This is a special type of adhesive made from polyamides. It is used commonly as an alternative to cover printing beds. Unlike masking tape, though, it’s been made to withstand very high temperatures of up to 400 degrees Celsius.
Because of its unique temperature resistance, this tape is used to make for better adhesion in 3D printing, to secure components in the hot end, and also used especially with ABS filament. If you’re printing with PLA then it might be cheaper to use regular masking tape.
This tool is important when you want to improve 3D adhesion. All you have to do is get a soluble glue stick and cover your print bed with it. The 3D prints will see their adhesion of the 3D prints will improve drastically. You can apply it on top of Kapton tape or regular masking tape. If your print bed is made of glass, then you can apply the glue stick directly onto the glass.
In this case, it’s best to get digital calipers. They will help you use it to do lots of stuff, such as checking how precise your prints are as well as dimensioning parts that you would like to replicate using CAD software.
3D printer filament, for example, rarely adheres to manufacturer specifications. That’s one of the areas where the calipers come in handy as you can adjust the diameter of the filament after measuring it at different pales using the caliper.
Digital calipers are advised because of their extra precision. They allow you to get everything just right.
Tweezers are something you always need to have around when you’re about to do a printing job. You can plug oozing filament using them or when cleaning up the print. You should ideally get a diverse set with tweezers of different shapes and sizes.
You will undoubtedly find yourself in a situation where your 3D print sticks extra well to the print bed and you just can’t get it off easily. That’s where a palette knife will come in handy. You can use it to pry the print from the bed by getting underneath it.
You will probably find yourself building up a sizeable collection of different palette knives over time. A good place to start is to get one stiff and one flexible one. As your needs increase you can get others along the way.
A Knife and a Cutting Mat
You will need to process your 3D prints once the printing job is done because they rarely ever come out perfectly. There may be filament strings or blobs of plastic that need to be removed. For that, you’ll need knives. A good knife is one that has an exchangeable blade so that you can get the right blade for the job.
Sandpaper is another handy tool you need to have in your kit. Get a collection with different grits so that you can handle different aspects of post-processing. A good range is from 220 grit to 1000 grit. Be sure to get good quality sandpaper as the grit quality lasts longer.
Pliers come in handy in a variety of situations. You can use them to fix parts on your printer, to remove prints that stick too hard, and so on. You should have wire cutting pliers and needle nose pliers in your kit no matter what brand you go for. The wire cutters, in particular, are important for trimming filament and snipping away supporting material. You should also go for rubberized slip-resistant grips.
Hex Key and Regular Screw Drivers
You probably already have some hex keys and screwdrivers in your possession. However, if you don’t, then you should buy some as soon as you can because you may need to tighten the stepper motor and gantry screws from time to time. Most 3D printers are assembled using hex nuts and bolts so you should also have a few hex key wrenches and screwdrivers.
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