3D Printing FAQ
What is 3D Printing?
3d printing is the process of taking 3d models from CAD software and printing them into real objects, either through the usage of plastic filament or UV-curing resin.
The most common type of printer is an FDM machine, which takes a spool of coiled plastic filament and heats the filament while extruding it through a nozzle layer by layer to form an object.
Another type of 3d printing is called SLA printing, which uses epoxy resin in a large vat which is cured into hardened plastic layer by layer using lasers inside of the machine.
FDM vs SLA
FDM machines are by far the most common, and are useful for rigid prints, functional prints, and low accuracy prints. 3D printed stress reliefs are a great example of what you can use FDM printing for.
SLA machines are much less common, and mostly meant for smaller objects and prints that require fine attention to detail. Miniatures, figurines, and jewelry are all typically 3d printed in resin opposed to FDM.
PLA vs PETG
We currently provide two different types of plastic, PLA and PETG. They both have different use cases and require different printing processes.
PLA is the most common type of filament - its cheaper, has vibrant colors, and prints easier with much less post processing than PETG does. PLA does not do well in heat, and is prone to snapping apart as it is more brittle than PETG.
PETG is a much tougher filament, with better physical strength and temperature resistance. It can handle outdoor usage much better than PLA and works much better for mechanical solutions due to its rigidity. It requires much more post processing due to stringing and seams, and is overall more difficult to print due to its stickiness and required higher temps.
What are the advantages of 3d printing?
3d printing is an amazing tool when used for rapid prototyping, quick and temporary solutions to problems, or inventing new shortcuts for unique QOL changes in real life routines.
What are the disadvantages of 3d printing?
3d printing is nowhere near perfect. Most prints will not come out perfectly flush or accurate, especially with FDM machines. There are endless factors at play when 3d printing, so even the same object to object can include small differences.
3D printing can also occasionally be "sloppy" with stringing or layer lines and seams visible on prints. For example, FDM printing will always produce a Z-seam, which is a tiny blob of plastic running up the side of a print which indicates where the has printer raised up a level in height.
Certain filaments can hide layer lines and seams better than others, and imperfections can also be painted over or sanded down, but most prints will require some type of post processing.
Why would I want a 3d printed stress relief?
3d printed stress reliefs make installation much easier and safer than normal heatshrink cables. The 3d printed reliefs are designed to be a snug and near factory fit, so when you install your cable, you just need to push it into place and it will stay put. Regular heatshrink cables need to measure the distance needed for the heatshrink, use high temperature to heat the heatshrink, and may not be a perfect fit varying from device to device.
What machines do you use?
We currently use FDM machines created by Prusa for the amazing reliability, upgradability, and support.
We've spent the last 6 months working every day with our machine and learning the strengths and weaknesses of 3d printing, and we stand behind the quality of prints that we are able to produce.