Essential 3D Printing Tools and Accessories

Bring Out The Best In Your 3D Prints With These Must-Have Accessories

If you are a first timer trying out 3D printer you might not be too familiar with all the tools that are also required for you to successfully complete a build. Although your 3D printer, an uninterrupted power supply, and filament are the basic requirements you need to manufacture a model you still need some additional tools.

In this article, you will get the essentials of what should be included in your toolkit to hit the ground running for your next project and many subsequent projects thereafter. When you have the right tool at hand after starting the 3D printing process you will significantly reduce the feeling of frustration and the whole process will become more enjoyable to you. The results you get will also be more satisfying to your taste.

 

Part building

3M Scotch Blue Painter Masking Tape – Original Multi-Surface

Have you ever heard of Kapton tape? well, this tape can be used almost everywhere. Interesting that this tape is being used by NASA so you’ll completely feel like your on the international space station (ISS). Let’s bring this tape back to 3D printing where it is used when you print with ABS filament on a heated building plate. The job of this tape is very much similar to that of blue painters on a nonheated building plate. This is to help the model that is currently being manufactured stick to the building plate but it also affords you the ease of removal once the product is colled and ready to remove. The scotch tape looks in a way similar to duck tape but works quite differently.

You can’t use ordinary tape on building plate as it won’t be able to stand the temperature of the building plate during a build session. Kapton tape, on the other hand, is able to withstand temperatures of that can go up to 500°F.

 

 

Elmer’s Disappearing Purple School Glue

When you are printing on a heated build plate you should also put some glue on the surface this is to help your 3D print stick to the building plate. Adding the glue to the build plate will ensure that your 3D build does not suffer from raised edges of the object. You might also use standard PVA glue for this purpose but you’ll feel hassled when brushing this on and preventing a mess when you are spreading this around.

Everything is way easier when you make use of a glue stick that comes with good quality. You may go ahead and try brands like Pritt, UHU, and any other generics brands but amongst them, all Elmer clearly stands out.

Using the purple disappearing glue makes it easier for you to see exactly where the glue was applied. This is even better when the surface of the build plate is made of glass. You will get four of these when purchasing them from Amazon with each unit weighing 0.21 Ounces each. The color when you are applying this to a surface is purple you can more easily see where it is applied like mentioned earlier. You can even give this to use by your children for their school projects.

 

Digital calipers

When it comes to 3D printing this is one of the basic essentials that should be included in your toolkit. When you are printing your 3D object it is very important that you are able to accurately measure the thickness and dimensions associated with the part. This information is then used to ensure that your printer output settings and the data of the required part you input correlate with each other.

Measurements are important because say for instance you tell your printer to print you an object that is 28.5mm long and its width is 5.3mm you need to get a part that exactly match up those dimensions in the final output. One of the first challenges you are going to face is to get your parts to mate with each other perfectly. This result of having a good build gives you a very pleasant satisfying feeling.

Most of the best calipers are really expensive therefore the two which will be recommended in this article are more budget friendly. If you, however, prefer a premium product and have the money to pay for it you may do so but those products will not be included in this article.

Look out for too cheap calipers as they are the ones that will easily break and are inaccurate. Chances are hight that some of the expensive calipers are being faked in China. You should keep to know and trusted sellers like Amazon. Avoid cheap third-party seller even though they are very tempting as you might think that you are getting a great deal the very opposite might be true.

 

Mitutoyo 500-197-30 Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS) Absolute Scale Digital Caliper

These calipers mentioned in this article and this specific version is being used by professionals worldwide because of its durability. More often than not they last a lifetime. The accuracy is one of its outstanding features that are able to go up to 0.0005” (0.01mm) in resolution. This means that you are able to double check on the layer thickness that your SLA printer produced in case you wanted to.

According to the manufacturer of this product, you will get excellent battery life. You should be able to get 4 years continues usage if you leave them on. One user reported that they last changed their battery in 2012 and only this last year (2017) had to change it. This means that the battery lasted well over the 4 years that the manufacturer claimed. The battery life is definitely a plus on this Caliper. You will also be impressed with the advanced sensors that it comes equipped with that is resistant to dirt, oil, and water. The resistance to these materials is all attributed to the advanced onsite sensor(AOS) whose sensor is also electromagnetic inductive.

Your caliper will come with a rugged plastic casing that will protect it in the event that it falls off your workbench a few times without damaging the caliper.

 

VINCA DCLA-0605 Quality Electronic Digital Vernier Caliper

This caliper is a good budget choice product. The accuracy you get with this product is good enough. Precision goes up to two decimal places that are very consistent with an economical brand. The display o the device is clear to see the measurements you are making. This may be in mm, inches in factions and inches in decimal.

 

Post Processing

For easy 3D Printer Tool 3D Print Removal Tool

After using thin edged metal removal tool to get your part gently of the build place you might ask yourself why you haven’t done this before. When you are new to 3D printing you might manhandle your finished print by using brute force to remove it or you might even get the idea to use a razor to remove it without cutting a finger off cause.

The two removal tools have blades that are thin enough to remove your object with ease. This means that you can gently place it underneath your object to help remove it from the build plate and then applying some leverage will get things moving.

The most useful feature is having two blades on this tool. One of this blades is used to make initial cutting to get underneath the edges while the larger blade is being used to split the part from the whole surface. This means that the larger blade actually removes your object while the smaller one only paves the way for the more larger blade.

The two tools look very much similar to two butter knives except that one is a lot shorter than the other. The handle gives you a good grip you can use to maneuver the model from the build plate by applying pressure.

You get a 0.3mm thin edge on the small knife but closer to the cent it is more like 0.45mm. When it comes to the longer knife you will get a 0.35mm edge while the center is half a millimeter or 0.5mm thin.

Other removal tool options are available on the market but they are not the best option. Mostly these knives are close to the ones used by the artist as pallet knives that have more thicker edges, making it difficult to get between your part. You might also suffer to apply enough strength to leverage your model of the building plate.

This tool remains the best option to get your finished build part of the building plate without damaging your model.

 

Excel K18 Grip-On Knife

When you are building your model you might make use of supports to create a good quality model. For this, you will require a good knife for trimming away these supporting parts on your model and all other overhands and plastic that might appear out of place. If you choose to use a hobby knife it might just work out fine. But with during time the blade might loosen and move around invariably, that would require you to re-tighten it on frequent bases.  Excel Grip have a good way of attaching their blade without it becoming loose as time goes.

You will easily be able to make an accurate cut while holding on to the soft grip handle of the knife. The feeling of this knife in your hand is also sturdy and you’ll have a lightweight knife when choosing this tool. It looks similar to a box cutter you would use at home or work to open boxes except that here it will be used for your 3D models.

This tool also has a cap that is great for protecting your fingers. You also get a few extra blades inside the packaging with this knife. You will be surprised at how many brands out there don’t come with these small extras.

 

Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Marker

You need to keep in mind your printer settings when experimenting with a thing like the layer heights, temperature and the speed so that you know which model was created using which combination of settings. Arguably the best way that you can do this is by writing on the models.

Simply by writing a part number or code, you will be able to identify which model was created during which printing process using what settings. If there is enough space on your model you can write a description on it. Oil-based paint pens can be used to mark various material including plastics. They are very different compared to ordinary ink markers in that they won’t easily wear off or rub off.

You can choose from a variety of colors and tip sizes to match the model and the material type you are working with best.

 

Wet & Dry Sandpaper 120 to 3000 Grit

Even when you are printing a good 3D model it still might require some supports. When the model is done however you would have to remove these supports and inappropriate plastics sticking out of your model to make it smooth and very appealing to the eye. When the models you are making needs to be really smooth say for instance you create miniatures of gaming characts you might need good quality sandpapers to create this finish.

In this set, you will get sandpapers that have 9 grades ranging from 120 all the way to 3000. This should be more than enough to get your model from draught to a glass smooth finish. In total this set has 42 pieces. When searching through the internet you may come across cheap papers but you’d notice in their reviews that they aren’t hard wearing. You don’t have to stress about this as it applies mostly to wood and paintwork. For the purpose of plastic, these sandpapers will work very well and should last you a long time.

After doing a few models you can start stocking up on the sandpaper you use the most because at that point you should have a clear indication of which paper creates a satisfying appearance for you.

 

JawayTool Needle File Set

After cutting off the build support you used to build your 3D model, there might be some burrs and tabs that stayed behind. For this, you will need to use something called a needle file set. They look very similar to a set of screw dryers if you are don’t pay too much attention to the tips of this tool.

When using sandpaper you will be able to make a larger surface smooth but with needle files, on the other hand, you’ll be able to perform more detailed work. You can also clean up sharp features more easily without having to spoil their definition. It’s easy for you to create a model in one simple go by just using a file and any additional stuff would not be required.

JawayTool has a good set of needles with a very nice soft grip. They also come with a fancy case that will keep your needles in a good condition for a long time because these tools come with a Lifetime warranty.

 

Stanley STST19410 One-Latch Toolbox

After buying all these tools you might want something like a toolbox to store and keep your 3D tool safe. This will prevent that frustrating feeling when you are looking around all over the place just to find that one tool you need. Keep organized like good engineers do.

The Stanley toolbox is not only ideal for storing your 3D printing tools but it is also lightweight. This is a 19Inch black box that has the ability to automatically shut itself after you’ve opened to grab a tool from it. It also has ease of one hand handling when the other is occupied. You can be sure that you won’t have to buy another toolbox in a few years since this one is very sturdy and solid.

 

Where can you buy these tool?

All of the 3D printing tools that were mentioned in this article are available for purchase from the Amazon online store. You may use the links below to purchase these items from Amazon.

  1. 3M Scotch Blue Painters Masking Tape – Original Multi-Surface buy on Amazon regular price $34.99 you pay $34.85 *
  2. Kapton Tape buy on Amazon regular price $14.62 you pay $8.84 *
  3. Elmer’s Disappearing Purple School Glue buy on Amazon from $4.50
  4. Mitutoyo 500-197-30 Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS) Absolute Scale Digital Caliper buy at Amazon regular price $224 you pay $168.82 *
  5. VINCA DCLA-0605 Quality Electronic Digital Vernier Caliper buy on Amazon regular price $59.99 you pay $36.59 *
  6. For easy 3D Printer Tool 3D Print Removal Tool buy at Amazon regular price $19.78 you pay $10.88 *
  7. Excel K18 Grip-On Knife buy on Amazon from $5.39
  8. Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Marker buy on Amazon regular price $8.79 you pay $7.91 *
  9. Wet & Dry Sandpaper 120 to 3000 Grit buy at Amazon regular price $34.99 you pay $9.95 *
  10. JawayTool Needle File Set buy on Amazon from $34.95
  11. Stanley STST19410 One-Latch Toolbox buy on Amazon regular price $31.99 you pay $16.93 *

* You’ll get a special discount when buying this 3D printing tool using the link.

 

Conclusion

Even though this might look like a comprehensive list of tools for your 3D printing job, keep in mind that these are only the essentials. You have the option to explore more tools as they meet your printing needs. Happy 3D printing!

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