The learning curve of 3D Printing

Keeping up with the new technology is always a challenge especially if you are not a keen technology follower. So what happens if you decide to learn, say, 3D printing? What is the learning curve of 3D printing like?

What we do is if there is no one that we can ask a direct question to, we can ask Google.

Google: ‘How to learn 3D printing?’

The search page comes up about 3,440,000 results (date search taken: 1st of March 2018)

So if you scroll down into the pages of search results you will notice a general pattern. It is about training courses followed by 3D service providers. Now you know that if you decide to attend to a course, there is an abundance of them. But if you do not want to learn yourself there are services that provide you with the option of getting your design professionally printed as well.

What else comes up as a search result?

Articles/blogs about 3D printing that are written by 3D printing gurus. This is encouraging because it proves that individuals can progress on the subject by themselves with the sources available on the World Wide Web.

After reading a couple of articles/blogs you learn that 3D printing helps to create solid objects from a digital 3D model and the popular ways to do 3D printing.

One of the methods advised is using ‘extrusion printers’ which extrude thermoplastic filament in layers until the digital 3D model is fully printed. So it is called an ‘additive process’ since layers are added on each other beginning from bottom to top. With the help of heat, extruded filament joins to make the final product.

So you can think of 3D printing like building with Lego. You build a tower from bottom to top by adding Lego bricks on top of each other.

Now, the basic understanding of the 3D printing is clear.

Is it really worth learning about?

Do you remember the days when black & white later colour photocopy/printer duo became available – as a technology? It was too expensive. Mainly the businesses had it on their premises. Then it became cheaper, and consequently affordable to public. There are so many varieties of these photocopy/printer duo. You can buy it according to your needs from simple versions to multifunctional ones.

Like in the case of normal photocopy/printer duo, 3D printers will probably become part of your life at one point in the near future.

So what type of things do you want to use 3D printing for?

There is no simple answer to that yet. It is slightly up to your imagination to what you want to 3D print as well as whether you can or the service providers are able to make a programme of your design that is 3D printable.

At Kimtur Ltd, when we begin trials of 3D printing objects, we printed simplest parts, followed by specific items such as door lock catch, and Micro:bit case.  

There is one more thing to consider. There are limitations of the 3D printer about the size of the object that you want to 3D print.

Do not get discouraged that there are too many things to do or to learn.

So it is a good idea to begin by just looking into the 3D modelling programmes available on the market and see if they are easy to learn.

What type of learning curve of 3D printing you can expect?

It is hard to say. You are going try and fail along the journey, but one thing is certain, if other people can do it, you can do as well!