Silicon Valley 3D Presents: All Things 3D Printing

3D printing is awesome… and exciting… and at least for the hobbyist, new. As with all new tech, we are far from easy plug-n-play, so we often need a little help from our friends. Bay Area Rep Rap first assembled during the earliest days of “repetative rapid prototyping,” aka 3D printing. Back then, we had to build our own 3D printers so these folks really know the tech. Now you can easily buy a 3D Printer for a reasonable price, making the initiation process so much simpler for those who are just starting on a creative journey.

Just like you, all of us had to start without knowing anything. The Bay Area Rep Rap group now has members with all levels of experience and we are continually learning from each other or just having fun seeing creative people at play… what do they make? How do they do it? Yes, we too have disasters and have learned to laugh about it while educating others on what went wrong. Misprints happen. We learn. We share. For now, this guide will point you to our favorite answers to common questions we hear, to be replaced with more and more answers coming from our members as we build our knowledge base. Take a look at our Bay Area Rep Rap Discussion Group and even post your questions. Better yet, join us at our next Meetup!

What is 3D printing?

At its most basic, an FDM 3D printer transforms a spool of plastic filament into a 3D object. The filament passes through the Extruder, which grabs the filament and pushes it into the Hot End, where the filament melts and under computer control, drops the molten plastic into a precise location on the Build Plate. The Build Plate is the flat surface where your model will appear. A fan cools the new layer of plastic into place.

There is something magical about watching a 3D object emerge as the printer adds each new layer of plastic.

What got you interested in 3D printing?

I saw an early demo from the Fablab at MIT back in 2007. -- Leland

An unexpected Christmas present. -- Karen

The price of 3D Printers dropped to under $200 so I could manage to get one, an Ender 3. -- Mayur

What was your first 3D printer?

I ordered the plasitc parts from the University of Washington in 2011 and cobbeled together the rest from various sources in the following months. The printer will be finished soon, I promise. -- Leland

A Monoprice Select Mini, v2. -- Karen

What was the first thing you made?

I’d like to say ‘The Game of Thrones Chair’, but I’m working up to it. Truthfully, I made one layer then had to start again. After a few tries, I got the print going, then I made half a dog. The dog model came with my printer, but they did not include enough filament to print it. So I printed half a dog. -- Mayur

A big mess. I set out to make a calibration cube, but I learned how to make spaghetti. -- Leland

A Tardis key, after the test print that came with the machine. I knew so little about 3D printers, I watched a few videos to see how a minor thing can ruin a print, so I watched some beginner videos before attempting even the test model that came with my printer. I was amazed it came out perfectly. I did the Tardis Key since it fit my criteria for an easy first print, and like, who does not need a spare Tardis key? -- Karen

What kind of user are you?


For those starting out whether you are thinking about getting a 3D printer or have a 3D Printer and hope you can get up and running.

Show me something interesting

You’ve got a 3D printer, and even downloaded an .stl and used a slicer. The basics of better prints.

Let's go!!!

For the makers who want to optimize and explore the more technical aspects of what a 3D printer can do.

Just Go!