Friday, January 1, 2016

14 things every 3D printer owner needs to have

That title isn't too pandery, is it? I mean it's not entirely inaccurate. This video is all about things every 3D printer owner really should have, but probably didn't come in the box. My recent expereinces with a new 3D printer gave me reason to come up with this list.

  1. Print bed scraper - There are options for this one. Toybuilder labs sells one, but I get better results with AdanA's 3D printed razor scraper, though my old faithful 5-in-1 painters tool and 4ox hammer will forever be by my side. But be careful with these ones. I bought a new one, a 6-in-1 tool, that was much bigger and the edge of it was very blunt to the point of being unusable. So make sure the one you get is one of the sharp ones and don't settle.
  2. Hex key set and/or Small Screwdriver - Chances are if you got one of the more tinkery 3D printers it came with a hex key set that you needed, but if not you need to find out how your 3D printer is held together and be prepared to take it apart.
  3. Utility knife - Good for cleaning up prints and opening new boxes of filaments.
  4. Wirecutters and/or Needle Nosed Pliers - Removed filament needs to have the tip snipped, so have one of these on hand. Also, when handing hot plastic or reaching under a moving print nozzle to get something out of the way, don't use your fingers. Needle noed pliers are the tool for that job. There are together on one line because some needle nosed pliers can double as wire cutters, so a 2-in-1 solution is acceptable for this one.
  5. Metric Hex Socket Wrench - For removing your nozzle, because your nozzle will clog. Just accept that and be ready for it.
  6. Spare parts, Nozzles and Feed Tubes - Go to your 3D printer manufacture right now and get those parts that will eventually need to be replaced so that you're not left without the ability to print in the middle of that job you're passionate about. Nozzles and, if you need them, the feed tubes will eventually need to be replaced, and sooner than you expect. 
  7. Note taking supplies - When you change your settings, take note. When you try something new, take note. When you are printing a series of prints designed to tell you how things are working, take note so you don't forget at the end of the print which one you were doing. Your brain will never retain information like a pen and paper.
  8. Community - Technically a noun, but not often considered a think. But who cares, you need this. Subscribe to the 3D Printer Tips and Tricks group, then search Google Groups for the group for your 3D printer manufacture and subscribe to them. Get the e-mail digest updates, and at least browse them.
  9. Something to Print - You're going to be doing a lot of small test prints to start. You could do 20mm test cubes, or you can find something small and fun, and maybe even functional. is the search engine of choice for 3D prints like the Cute Lovecraft Inspired Pawns.
  10. Magnifying Glass/Loupe and Light - To take a closer look at your prints and really get a sense of what's going on.
  11. Super Glue - Because no matter what you're printing Super Glue will put it back together when it breaks or prints in parts, stronger than the original.
  12. Hot Glue Gun - Also puts things together and the hot tip can be used to melt and smooth prints.
  13. Calipers - Digital calipers are totally worth the extra cost. They're mandatory if you're going to be doing any design work, but even just to check the accuracy of the prints or the thickness of the filament, having accurate measuring on hands in indispensable.
  14. Subscription to Joe's 3D Workbench on YouTube - Because 13 was an unlucky number. But to be fair, here's a number of other 3D printing resources online:
Of course that's just the minimum to keep your printer running list. If you want to take it to the next level, you'll need a few more things. like:
  • Acetone if you're printing in ABS.
  • Wire stripper
  • Soldering Iron
  • Voltmeter
So if you know anyone who just joined the legon of 3D printer owners, you can share with them this list. Also, was there anything that I missed? Be sure to leave a comment if there's something you couldn't 3D print without.


  1. Great list! I just got my first 3D printer for xmas and my first print went fantastically (beginners luck?), but now I'm having a few little issues that I'm researching on how to fix. Looks like I'll be picking up a few more items to help myself out :)

  2. Great list Joe!! We'd add 3D design programs that work well with 3D printing like Morphi (available for iPads currently, coming for Android, Mac + Windows).

    1. Absolutely. And the truth is if you're not a designer, if you're not going to be editing the files, you don't need a 3D printer. Or rather you don't need the headache of 3D printing. There's a video about that coming soon.


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