Is 3d Printing a Science or a Craft


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When you purchase your first 3d Printer do not expect it to work like a toaster.  It is more like a sewing machine or a woodworking tool.   You cannot expect your 3d Printer to work exactly like some else's that is the same model.   Your 3d Printer will need some tuning and adjustments to work optimally.  You will need to learn a set of skills that cross over from Science to Art.  From engineering to crafting.

On the DrVAX Forum located at, there are hundreds of similar questions over and over again. Participants are often looking for simple solutions.

For example: in 3d Printing, a software product called a "slicer" is used to convert 3d models into files suitable for production on a 3d Printer.   In some cases, these slicers have hundreds of settings.  You can save a combination in a file called a profile.  A common request is, "Do you have a profile for a specific printer with a specific type of plastic that I can use?".  While using a profile from someone else is a good starting point, it does not consider the age and condition of your 3d printer, the temperature of the room you are in, and many additional factors.

I generally find that importing someone else's profile is a sub-optimal solution. Sometimes the profile works, and sometimes the profile does not. Using a 3d Printer is both a science and an art. Much like woodworking. It would be best if you began by learning basic techniques. Then apply what you learn to your current problem. In 3d Printing, fundamental techniques include:

  • Bed Leveling
  • Setting Appropriate Extruder Temperatures
  • Setting Appropriate Bed Temperatures
  • Stepper Motor Calibration
  • Slicer Concepts
  • Advance Slicer Techniques
  • What is an Overhang?
  • What is a Bridge?
  • Using Supports
  • Bed Adhesion Techniques

These are just some of the skills you should learn when you purchase a 3d printer. You can learn many of these by watching YouTube videos on the DrVAX channel:

When I started using a wood lathe, I needed to learn an equally difficult skillset with the added dimensions of complex hand/eye coordination. Hitting a golf ball takes a lot of practice. Sewing has at least as many techniques as 3d Printing. Few things that are worth doing are easy.

Stick with it. Once your master 3d printing concepts, you will be able to move from one slicer to another, one 3d printer to another quickly, and produce beautiful projects.

Then, when you think you have learned it all, you can learn to model your solutions in a CAD program, add electronics with programs, and more.

Welcome to the world of makers.