Getting started with 3d printing

  • Last Post 17 September 2019
getreal156 posted this 01 July 2019

Hi guys,

I will be starting with a series of posts regarding 3d printing.
There is quite a lot to cover and I will need some time to work it all out before I can post it here.

So, my plan is to go step by step and spread my posts over some period of time.
I'll do my best to do it as quick as possible.



For those who are not yet familiar with 3d printing but are experimenting with coils and electronics I can only recommend to get started right away. It really pays off to have 3d printing capabilities yourself. Home based 3d printing is getting mature, and these days there are some good 3d printers available that are not very expensive. Some years ago 3d printing was really only suitable for nerds that spend all their time on 3d printer tweaking, tuning and writing code. But the 3d printing technology is quickly progressing and today there are some good, affordable and reliable machines on the market that make 3d printing really easy and accessible for every one.

This might sound a bit like a 3d printing promotion article, but my personal experience is, that ones you own a 3d printer you never look back anymore. Using 3d printed spools as well as many other parts will make your life a lot easier.


Some advantages:

  1. Each coil can separately be wound on a very low cost printed spool.
    Due to this modular approach of spool printing, it helps bringing more structure in the way you organize your experiments. At least this is how it works for me. I wind many coils on printed spools and label them with their characteristics

  2. Spool winding is much easier and less time consuming. Because the spool is a loose part that you make yourself, you can design it in such a way that you can use a power drill or motorized spool winder instead of winding it manually.
    If you build a small rotation counter (i.a. using Arduino), your spools will be wound in minutes instead of hours.

  3. Using coils on dedicated spools makes it much easier to re-build old experiments that you want to go back to,
    or to let others build replications of your experiments. (by sharing spool 3d files)

  4. If you are working with e-cores of u-cores, using printed spools saves lots of time and money. Rewinding of your cores is very time consuming, annoying and often you end up with a result that is far from perfect (happens to me ALL the time ;( .
    If you want to save your well performing coils and you don't use spools it becomes expensive to buy many cores.

  5. Increases your experimental productivity overall. By simply replacing the spools on a core you can do many experiments in the least amount of time. Also comes in handy if you quickly want to compare coils.


  1. It will require some investments in hardware and materials
  2. It takes some time and effort to learn how to design a product
  3. After you went through the processes above you will feel bad that you didn't start earlier

Order By: Standard | Newest | Votes
getreal156 posted this 01 July 2019

In the coming posts we will go through the following topics to help you getting started


  1. HARDWARE (What to buy and what not)

  2. SLICERS (3d printer software)
  3. PRINTING MATERIALS (Types of materials and their properties)
  4. PRODUCT DESIGN SOFTWARE ( online tools and advanced 3d design software)
  5. PRINTING TECHNIQUES (Tips and tricks)

Marathonman posted this 03 July 2019


  • Liked by
  • Chris
  • Vidura
getreal156 posted this 05 July 2019

How to choose a 3d printer that suit your needs

First of all I would like to make some distinctions between different kind of users.

  • Professional users. Companies and people in the industrial world (like me) need 3d printed parts for their research projects. They order at them at specialized 3d manufacturing companies or have their own 3d printing capabilities. These companies are investing lots of money in all kinds of big and very expensive 3d printing machines to get the best results for specific applications.
  • The 3d printing nerds. These are the kind of people that really like to dig deep into the 3d printing technology itself. They see 3d printing as a hobby on itself and they are mostly interested in modifying their hard and software to reach optimal printing results. They are experimenting with all kinds of materials and settings and try to find the ultimate capability limits of their machines. The products that they are printing are often seen as a secondary goal.
  • Regular home users. People that are most interested in the products that a 3d printer can make. Often they don’t want to invest a lot of time and money and don’t care a lot about 3d printing technology itself.

In this forum we are mainly interested in what a 3d printer can do for us in terms of making all kinds of spools and supporting parts.

To start 3d printing at home we first need to find a good printer.

Selection criteria:

  • Price
  • Reliability
  • Capabilities
  • Ease of use

In many reviews that you will find online you will hear other criteria mentioned like ‘the ability to use many different types of materials’ , ‘multi-color printing’ and ‘software tweaking capabilities’.  Here we are not focusing on making beautiful looking Sci-Fi figures and non-functional but great looking gadgets and so the range of printers that we can choose from can be narrowed down a little.

For me personally, reliability is THE most important factor to consider when buying a 3d printer.
Luckily, reliability goes hand in hand with high quality prints.

Still, it is very hard to advice on which type of printer is really the best choice. There are hundreds on the marketplace, and they come in many types and price ranges.
Naturally, I didn’t try them all out myself, but I can give you a few tips that I think will help with selecting one.

Here are a few 3d printers that I’m sure of that they perform well and that are reliable.

My personal #1 favorite 3d printer is the Cetus Mk3

I own a few of these machines. I know many people that have one and we also have several of them running in my company.
With its industrial grade linear bearings it is the best money can buy (within the price range).
This machine is a real workhorse. With me they are running most of the time, and I leave them running when I'm away. They hardly ever produce a failed part. It is a well engineered no-nonsense machine that always works. It is very easy to use and produces high-quality parts that are dimensionally very accurate. 

However, if your goal is to start experimenting and tweaking with software, detailed printing settings and different type of materials, this is not a machine you should buy. The software that comes with it, is dedicated to this machine. It is simple and functional but does not provide the endless list of tuning and tweaking options that other slicers offer.

Below a short review from a professional that explains a little more.

(Marco Reps)  

Another machine that I've used and that is known for its quality and reliability is the Prusa i3.
With machines like the Prusa you have the advantage of a heated print bed that allows you to use more types of materials. This machine doesn’t come with dedicated slicer software (converts 3d stl model to machine language). Several slicers are free to download from the internet. They mostly come with a ton of tuning and tweaking options that you can use to optimize the print results. It will take time to get used to though.
The Prusa i3 is a very good printer with many options.

There are many 3d printers available that are knock-offs from the Prusa.
Some of those are quite good and others suffer from all kinds of smaller or bigger issues.
If you are willing to spend time on optimizing and you have a very low budget, there are printers like the ones from Creality which seem to be quite ok.

I’m actually planning to buy the Creality Ender 3 myself.
Creality is a very well know brand that offer 3d printers in many price ranges. Looking at the budged printers they are offering a lot of printer for very little money. I predict that I will have to replace a few minor components, but I think it should be ok after that.

More expensive are the Ultimaker printers.
Also very good and reliable machines with high grade quality components. We have a few at work and I liked them very much. However, you do need quite a big budget to buy one. In my personal opinion they are too expensive. Many other machines are offering the same for less than 1/3 of the price.

The Botmaker machines are also very popular. From what I read and hear they seem to be reliable and offer a lot of printer for a very reasonable price. Unfortunately I don’t have any personal experiences with this brand.

Below a link to a well known 3d printer professional. He is very knowledgeable and most important, he is honest.

(Makers Muse)

(Makers muse)

Probably needless to say but in any case...
Please be aware that many 3d printer reviews that you'll find online are not the real honest product reviews that you are looking for. Many, many (!) YT channels are funded by shops or manufacturers to sell you a product.

What not to buy

What I would not buy myself are extremely low priced printers from an unknown or questionable brand. There are many of them available in the marketplace. Above all, it is a big gamble if you decide to buy one as your first printer.
I’m not saying that they are bad per definition, but for a beginner it can be extremely frustrating to bump into all kinds of issues that you don’t understand and don’t know how to solve.

From my personal experiences I can say that trying to solve mechanical printer issues, that you don’t really understand, can be very frustrating and time consuming!

Some years ago I bought the ANET A6. Just to see how it would do. That proofed to be a big mistake. These printers are extremely cheap but you most likely will end up spending more time solving all kinds of issues than actually printing. In my case I had to replace and improve many components. I spend lots of time and money to improve it, but in the end it never worked well.

I will continue after the holidays.

Have a great summer vacation!

Marathonman posted this 05 July 2019

Thanks for the great info. i also found out the Creality Ender 3 Pro is on sale at their website for $ 229, so do not buy off Amazon and pay an extra fee.. after some research it seams the pro addresses some issues with the bottom plate warping and has an upgraded V slot for smoother head travel. so basically i want one now as i can 3D print my bobbins with a break-away inner shaft guide for the winder. after removing the breakaway and a little clean up it will slip right over the cores.

i also found a video, 3D Printing: 13 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Started. the video seems to be non bias but at the end he list the typical BS link sell tactics. all in all i found this info to be quite valuable to the beginner as myself. here is the link to the very informative video that i found to be very professional. 

i am sorry if i jumped the gun on you if you planned to address this in your presentation.

Outstanding informative thread. it seams that if we have more threads like this people will come to learn how it is done the proper way.

PS; after hour upon hour of searching the net there is not one video showing how to make a winding bobbin for a coil so this will be the first that i know of and welcomed.



getreal156 posted this 09 July 2019

3d Slicer software

In regard to slicers we can keep it relatively short.

A slicer is basically a piece of software that is needed to translate your 3d model into machine language that 3d printers need to build up the model layer by layer. They are called slicers because they basically are slicing the 3d model up into printable layers.

After you have designed a 3d model in CAD software or online, the model has to be loaded into the slicer. The slicer then will create a g-code file that can be exported and uploaded to the printer.
Some printers use x3g code. This is basically is a derivative from g-code that offers some additional features and settings.


The slicer can be a piece of freeware that you download from the Internet or it can be proprietary software that is included when you buy a 3d printer. There are also a few slicers that you have to buy.

As every 3d printer has its own specific character it some times makes sense to try a few different slicers. Some combinations of slicers and printers work better than others. There can be a difference in results. Even between different 3d models on the same machine.

If you understand g-code a little and like to spend weeks experimenting with different slicers, I would say, .. Go for it.

For beginners however, I would advice to keep it as simple as possible. When you start experimenting with slicers and/or g-codes it is very easy to get hopelessly lost and you probably will end up with a huge pile of failed prints.

When you are starting and you bought a printer that requires the use of open source slicer software, get a slicer like Cura. It is free, easy to use and almost always gives you good printing results.

I didn't try them all but Slicers like Kisslicer and Slic3r work great, but they do have a much more complicated interface and require more basic knowledge.

Simplified3D also works great also but it will put you back $150,-

In case you want to explore, below a list of available slicers.


Craftware.. Free. Export g-code only.
Cura.. Free. Export g-code only.
Flashprint.. Free. Export x3g only.
Kisslicer.. Free. Export g-code only.
Makerware 2.4 x64.. Free. Export g-code and x3g.
Makerboot print.. Free. Export g-code and x3g.
Matter Control.. Free. Export g-code only.
ReplicatorG.. Free. Export g-code and x3g.
Simplify3D.. $149. Export g-code and x3g.
Slic3r.. Free. Export g-code and x3g.


Marathonman posted this 12 July 2019

One thing i just learned is while i do designing in  EMachineShop which i used to design my brush holder with, i realized i can not only design my bobbins but export in STL which i then can import to Slic3r which i just downloaded to check out.  i then can export the Gcode which is used by the 3D printer or printers.

one thing i am worried about is that if i print the whole bobbin with end caps i will need to have bobbin supports that waste a LOT of material to support the upper end cap. to me this is unacceptable and a waste in material so when i do print them i think i will print the upper end cap separate and glue into place taking account of the wall thickness. the bottom end cap is on the printer bed which will be supported.

what do you think Getreal since you have more experience in this matter.? i can provide the STL file pic if you like if you do not understand. 

PS. the Gcode generated can be used by any slicer software or converted.


  • Liked by
  • Chris
  • Vidura
getreal156 posted this 13 July 2019

Hi Marathonman,

There are a few tricks you can try to reduce the amount of support material that you need.

  • Printing under an angle. Overhanging walls mostly need a lot of support beneath it.
    If you change the print angle you might be able to greatly reduce the amount of support that you need. (see image) 

    Afbeeldingsresultaat voor printing angle 3d

    When you turn the bobbin print with 90 degrees the amount of support already decreases I guess. Play with this to find the most optimum result.
    Your slicer has a 'preview' button where you can see how it will look like and it will calculate the amount of material that it needs.
  • In the slicer you can change the feature overhang angle at which the printer will start to print supporting structures. Depending on several settings and the type of printer there is quite some variation possible that you can play with. Many settings play a role here. Layer height, Speed, Spacing between filament layers (horizontally), Print temp. , Material,  etc etc. It will take time and many experiments to learn. Slic3r is not the most easy tool to begin with.  
  • Print the bobbin in 2 parts that you can glue together. This is a very easy and effective way to solve complicated printing issues. Also with this method there are a few printing orientations and angles to consider to get the best results. 
    De-lamination is some times an issue to consider when printing bobbins

  • Liked by
  • Vidura
Marathonman posted this 13 July 2019

Thanks for the info very much and yes i realized Slic3r is rather complicated. i also downloaded Ultimaker Cura 4.1.0 which is again rather steep learning curve but nice. i am doing a ton of research and watch all the masters on youtube gathering a lot of insight.

the second pic is in Cura slicer which shows the print preview of a 6 inch primary bobbin. to avoid excessive filament waste i am just going to print the top end cap separate then glue into place with weldon  which works with PLA, PVC, ABS ..ect.. in independent tests it held over 100 lbs and even held longer than the material did so i am good with that.

bobbins designed in EMachinShop then exported in STL into Cura.


i will still watch with eager eyes and will gladly except all the info and insights you have.

Ps. Ultimaker Cura will export in 3MF,  Gcode,  STL ASCll,  STL Binary,  Ultimaker Format Package and last but not least  Wavefront OBJ.

PS. i guess i should of posted this on another thread and keep this one just an instructional thread.....YES !



getreal156 posted this 22 August 2019

Hi guys,

My apologies for being rather late with a new post. I came back from holiday and I needed some time to manage some private things. 

So the next topic is : 3d printing MATERIALS

These days there are many types of material that can be used for 3d printing, and almost every year there are more material types and blends added to the list.

Obviously every type of plastic has its own specific properties.
The main differences between materials can be found in:
- Strength
- Heat resistance
- Flexibility
- Resistance to wear
- Appearance and texture.

When talking about plastics I think it important to realize that the differences in strength and heat resistance for 3d printed parts is quite marginal. There are differences between different kind of plastic materials but don’t expect the differences to be huge.
When we are printing a part, we are laminating layers of individual strings on top of each other. Because of the way we are building up the part, the strength of a product is highly depending how the filament strings are orientated in the part and how well the individual filaments strings are sticking to each other. So, the strength of a part is not only depending on the material properties.
Also note that 3d printed parts are never as strong as parts that are molded.

The most used material is PLA (Polylactic acid) . This is by far the easiest material to print. It is cheap, quite strong and doesn’t require a heated bed on your printer. I consider this the best material for spool printing.

ABS is another material that is used often. ABS is slightly more difficult to print. It tends to warp more and it doesn’t stick well to the print bed. A heated print bed is required for ABS printing.
Personally, I don’t see many advantages of ABS compared to PLA. In theory it should be slightly more resistant to heat and a little stronger. Personally, I think that the differences compared to PLA are so small that I don’t even consider using it.
Some prefer to use ABS because of its surface finish. By using solvent vapor post treatment, it is possible to get a glossy surface finish.

Another material that can be used is PET or PETG. This also works without a heated bed and gives quite good results. The disadvantage of PET is that the adhesion between layers is not very strong. In regard to strength, PET can be compared with PLA but the final printed product will mostly be less strong because of the connection between layers is less strong.

If you need to print some thing that is much stronger and tougher you can consider using Nylon.
Nylon is more flexible and much stronger than PLA and ABS. It is also quite resistant to wear. It is important to note that Nylon is much more difficult to print. Nylon is absorbing a lot of moist from the air (very fast) which causes issues while printing. Specific measures must be taken to ensure your material is dry and that it will remain dry while printing.

For extremely strong parts there are several other special material blends available. Some are based on PolyCarbonate and some are other material blends filled with glass or carbon fibers. These special materials are mostly very difficult to print. They often require extreme high printing temperatures and hard steel printing nozzles.

If you need flexible parts there are materials like TPE. They are relatively new in the 3d printing world but are getting more and more common. There are a few specific tricks to use them on a 3d printer but its not all that difficult.

For an overview of materials and their properties you can check out these websites.

For bobbin/spool printing I’m only using PLA. It is by far the easiest material to use and it suits the purpose.

Please be aware !!
3d printed spools should not get hot !!
Above 60 degrees C the spool will melt and when they get hotter they can start emitting
toxic fumes.

patrick1 posted this 22 August 2019

solid assessment buddy - i would like too add 1 thing. -  i have my printers outside, under the patio, but it does catch the morning sun...  and spools of PLA. (which i also perfer)  gets very brittle in the sun, and also from moisture inhalation in the atmosphere....  - however its ok after it mellts and goes through the printer ....  - but i wouldnt build any models designed too last a lifetime out of PLA.....   - ABS might be better.. but requires 240c, instead of 170c, making it harder too print.....  but ABS isnt UV stable either..... 

they are great tools , its a tool for life, untill something better comes along,... IF

  • Liked by
  • Chris
  • cd_sharp
getreal156 posted this 16 September 2019

3d design software

Actually, I’m struggeling a bit with this subject. Personally, I’m using professional CAD software CREO and Spaceclaim, so I’m kinda spoiled regarding this subject.
In recent years quite a large number of new online CAD tools were released. As the amount of 3d printer users exploded many of these tools were focusing on people that don’t have much experience with CAD software. 

So, if you are starting with 3d printing I think the best you can do is try some online CAD tools instead of getting a heavy CAD software package. I’ve tried a few online tools some time ago, and the one that I kept using was Tinckercad. It is very simple and very easy to use. Especially for beginners and if you want to design parts that are not too complicated this is a very nice tool. I really like it. Many of the online tools are free to use so just try a few and see what you like best.
A link to a list of free online CAD tools.

For the more professional CAD software the learning curve is quite steep. CAD software like Creo, Solidworks and Catia require months of intensive training to be able to master even the basics skills. These software packages are also very expensive.

A list of advanced CAD software can be found below. Please note that the software descriptions are mostly far from accurate. Obviously the list was made by some one that doesn’t have any CAD knowledge, but the list is still very useful.

patrick1 posted this 17 September 2019

it really depends on what you want too do, - i basically only make simple objects like spools etc. - and i will swear by Blender for doing this. - takes my about 3 mins too make some spools in cad. - i do it every week. and im a total amature ...   if you want too try, let me know, il paste you some notes ive taken, too get over the 3 basic beginners hurdles.

  • Liked by
  • Chris
getreal156 posted this 17 September 2019

Hi Patrick,

I agree its possible but Blender is a very heavy and complex piece of software that is very difficult to master.
That is why I didn't even bother to mention it. I'm using Blender for some years, but not for creating accurate models. Blender is most suitable for creating non-accurate models, sculpting, animations, image rendering and video editing. All the parametric CAD work I'm doing with other software.
Compared to the simple online CAD tools I think Blender is one of least suitable for beginners. Most starters will already get lost in the interface, let alone if they have to start learning to manipulate vertices, edges, planes and dimensions.

Members Online:
Since Nov 27 2018
Your Support:

More than anything else, your contributions to this forum are most important! We are trying to actively get all visitors involved, but we do only have a few main contributors, which are very much appreciated! If you would like to see more pages with more detailed experiments and answers, perhaps a contribution of another type maybe possible:

Donate (PayPal)

The content I am sharing is not only unique, but is changing the world as we know it! Please Support Us!

Donate (Patreon)

Thank You So Much!

Weeks High Earners:
The great Nikola Tesla:

Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe. This idea is not novel. Men have been led to it long ago go by instinct or reason. It has been expressed in many ways, and in many places, in the history of old and new. We find it in the delightful myth of Antheus, who drives power from the earth; we find it among the subtle speculations of one of your splendid mathematicians, and in many hints and statements of thinkers of the present time. Throughout space there is energy. Is this energy static or kinetic? If static, our hopes are in vain; if kinetic - and this we know it is for certain - then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature.

Experiments With Alternate Currents Of High Potential And High Frequency (February 1892).