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"Is There a Guide to Get Started in 3D Printing?" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian unpacks and sets up an inexpensive 3D printer, and prints a test object.

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The Silver Fox09 May 2023 8:15 p.m. PST

I'd like to get started in 3D printing, but I have no idea where to start.

Could someone suggest a primer or a guide to understanding and getting started in 3D printing for a complete noob like me?

Personal logo Steve at The Vault Sponsoring Member of TMP10 May 2023 1:58 a.m. PST

Tom Tullis from Fat Dragon Games has some video tutorials on 3D printing, I don't have a link but maybe check Fat Dragon's site or YouTube for them.

Royal Air Force10 May 2023 3:35 a.m. PST

Are you planning on printing figures or terrain (or both)?
Here's the link to Tom's channel
YouTube link

Also, check out the articles at

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian10 May 2023 4:58 a.m. PST

The learn as you go path to resin that I took went like this:

Started with a very cheap Phrozen Sonic Mini 3d (paid $129 USD for mine, it is a little more nowadays) and learned how to install slicing software (that comes with pringer) learned how to use the printer. The learning curve is very short.

Experimented with a couple kinds of resin (two main types washable and non washable, and several different manufacturers) and settled on Phrozen washable.

Became familiar with the main sites for STL files:

Built a directory structure on my hard drive for storing STL files

Set up a designated printing area in the house. The big attraction of washable, to me, was minimal smell.

Gathered supplies for washing figures a big vat of water that I periodically change and discard through the city's free toxic chemical pick-up service

Learned through trial and error best practices for printing:
- learned how to level build plate
- always relevel if you move printer
- never move printer while printing
- level build plate often, if not prior to every print
- clean build plate thoroughly after each print
- find best way to cure figures. With washable, I use either sunlight or a $50 USD turntable curer
- periodically drain resin vat and inspect bottom of vat and printer's LCD surface
- learn how to upload STLs into slicer, and learn how to orient best angle for printing generally most things you will print need to be oriented 35-45% to the plane of the build plate
- learn how to use slicing software to build supports for items to be printed, and how to supplement the supports that the software creates
- learn the difference between a print file and project file
- anything else I forgot.
- learn proper disposal for supports and printing errors

After cutting my teeth on the Phrozed I went to an Elegoo Saturn (about ^$350) and have had about a 98% success rate since last September, and the 2% came from user error.

When you get more advanced
get a build plate flexible magnetic steel plate (15%) which negates the need to uncouple, clean and level build plate each print"
- get some spare FTP film for your vat ($15)
- get an LCD plate protector ($15)

And BTW, the Phrozen resin works fine on the Elegoo.

In short, a print looks like this:
- find a print you like online and down load it to your directory. Some are free, some are cheap
- upload it into your slicer software. An STL file is called an object at this point. (you can bring in multiple ST/objects into one print
- position objects for best print. Your slicer software has a facsimili of your build plate on which you plan your prints
- angle each object
- create supports for each object
- slice it (usually simple button in the software)
- save it as a print file
- re-save it as a project file. You can reload and change or add/subtract objects or reposition in a project file.
- copy print file to thumb drive.
- turn printer on and plug in thumb drive
- use printer's user screen to find your print file on the thumb drive and tell printer to print that file
- find something to do for a couple hours
- when print is done, detach build plate or build plate flexible plate, and in no particular order: Wash print, detach print from plate, detach objects from supports rewash objects again. Wash build plate. I have found Irish Spring soap to be very good for this
- dry objects as much as possible
- cure with sunlight or a curing machine. Be sure to reposition objects in sun every two three hours. curing this way may take all day.

Some quick tips:
- buy some cheap rubber gloves by the box
- keep everything away from food prep areas
- always wash your hands after every encounter
- get a good supply of washcloths or rags that do not give off fibers.
- get a cheap metal colander to help wash and transport uncured prints
- keep a pair of sprue cutters near the printer to help detach supports.
- discard supports.

That's all I can think of for now.


jgawne10 May 2023 5:59 a.m. PST

My road led to watch a zillion youtube videos until I figured out what model I was going to buy (Elegoo 3 Pro). Then I watch ed ever video I could find about that specific machine while waiting for its arrival.

The above is good- A few tips from my own life- get to know what is available at Harbor freight tools (gloves!). Also look through TEMU as a great source of cheap stuff like funnels, silicon mats, small tools, sanding sticks, etc.

Save your tall supports to use as handles to lift up the film created when you do a 'clean tank'- which you will do after every single failure- no matter how small.

Always have extra paper towels around. LOTS OF THEM! pre torn off for easy handling. Start very slowly and clean, clean clean. Do not allow resin to start building up on anything. Watch your room temperature- if its under 70' the resin needs to be heated. Keep a waste basket with liner right by the printer so you can easily dump anything touching resin. Start saving all manner of plastic food trays, bottles, etc to carry printed items in, or store used IPA, or put dirty items on temporarily.

Andrew Walters10 May 2023 8:41 a.m. PST

When Steve Jackson took the plunge he did a series of Daily Illuminator articles describing just what he bought, how he used it, tips he collected, etc. All focused on printing miniatures, of course. It's actually a *great* introduction for resin printing.

Here are links to the eight part series:


DeRuyter Supporting Member of TMP10 May 2023 9:21 a.m. PST

All great points made above. As for temperature I have not had problems with printing in 60 degrees and never have heated the resin. That said if you are in an unheated basement or garage you can buy a heated tape that wraps around your resin vat.

I would also recommend Reddit sites (subreddits) for your printer and there is one for resin printing in general. Lots of posts and guides can be found on those.
FYI – Wargames3d linked above does have a printing guide on their site.

Nick Bowler10 May 2023 10:19 a.m. PST

VSB is spot on.

Resin printing is messy. If you get a resin printer, make sure you have a work area in a garage / shed / basement where spills can be tolerated. Keep this stuff away from smaller children and pets.

When I started printing I was told to get a silicon mat to work on, and spent way too much on a recommended mat. A little later I found a larger and better and far cheaper silicon mat at a pet store designed to put pet food bowls on.

Nick Bowler10 May 2023 1:24 p.m. PST

Stepping back, there are two sorts of printers in common use -- Resin, and FDM. Resin printers are better for figures as they can get higher details. FDM printers are better for terrain as they can print larger objects and the plastic is cheaper. I personally have both sorts of printer, and both are running right now. The resin printer is churning out some 15mm ancients. The FDM printer is printing terrain hexes. I get most use out of my FDM printer -- I am always printing terrain (buildings, castles, fences, etc.).

The Silver Fox11 May 2023 1:58 a.m. PST

Wow, this is all fantastic, more than I hoped for! Thank you, gentlemen, each for your contributions. They are greatly appreciated!

greenknight4 Sponsoring Member of TMP11 May 2023 1:41 p.m. PST

Enjoy and have fun :)

Lascaris13 May 2023 6:07 a.m. PST

Relative to FDM vs Resin you can print some kinds of figures on FDM. I FDM print all my vehicles these days (6mm to 28mm) and some companies, 3dBreed for example, have 28mm figures that print well on an FDM printer. Resin will of course give you higher detail, but you have to be a little careful regarding fragility of the figures.

The H Man14 May 2023 3:02 a.m. PST

"The learn as you go path to resin that I took went like this:"

Very long wordy thing.

"That's all I can think of for now.



Visit FLGS (or website).


For the most part though it sounds like a resin casting set up.

So much for printing being easier.

Filament probably is more so, to be fair, but resin is resin.

And there used to be some concerns over lead casting. Resin has that beat.

+1 rattly boxes.

companycmd23 Jun 2023 1:42 p.m. PST

anyone who is getting into 3D printing:
The GREATEST thing you must have: Patience and a video camera that you can view the platen remotely. The use of a webcam to view the printer is IN DE SPEN SIBLE.

That being said, I have been into this for 4 years and have both filament and water-based resin

Water-based resin is THE WAY TO GO.

I now print all my miniatures and have learned this:

DO NOT BOTHER TRYING TO PRINT FIGURES smaller than 28mm. You will waste your time.

Get the files and send it out to be done by others.

Print everything else; trees, tanks, etc.

And, remember this: 3D printing CAN NOT DO GUN BARRELS or anything round spherical conical etc. Only RESIN can do gun barrels and then understand this:

You CAN NOT DRILL resin or plastic with a dremel.. it will MELT before it cuts.

Get yourself a battery operated Ryobi Glue Gun. Like the webcam statement above, it is THE THING that saved me.

Update to the above: I have managed finally to print 20mm Science Fiction infantry but the FIGITING is insane and the consistency is less than optimal.

Also this: people who are making these .stl files may not be doing them 100% correctly; you will see errors when you try to manipulate.

Also, after 3 hours of printing something be prepared for your software computer or the machine to CRASH and you will have wasted 3 hours of your life.

NEVER WALK AWAY from the machine until the file has printed at least 30% done. YOU MUST WAIT to ensure the raft and the file are printing correctly.

We are printing BattleMechs at 20mm scale using filament and at highest resolution we can get away with.

A LOT OF trial and error was done to accomplish this.

ONLY BECAUSE my wife is a financial genius have I been able to do this.

Albus Malum28 Jun 2023 6:07 a.m. PST

1) buy a printer, Resin ECT.
2) find a STL
3) Support the STL
4) Print the STL
5) Watch a couple Youtube Videos telling what you did Wrong
6) Your most of the way there

Most of Companycmd advice above is all wrong.

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