3d printer questions

I have a 3d printer question. How are solid shapes printed on s 3d printer. For example lets say you have a simple cube. Does the 3d printer treat that cube as a solid or will it print the thin faces and leave the inside hollow?


It depends on the printer and its software, but in general if you need a hollw model you will have to construct the inside surfaces of the walls too.


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I believe some PLA printers will print just the faces of your model. So in the case of a cube, it’ll just print the 6 sides and you decide on the inside fillings. This way it can fill the insides partially with PLA to provide strength, but not 100% pure plastic (costly and a waste). So I suppose you could tell the software to not fill the inside, but then you’ll have a really weak box as the faces it prints are generally very thin.

Look up which printer you plan on using and it’s abilities. Your choice of material will also affect your choice.

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Some of the 3d printers do their own checks to make sure model is printable and they can handle and ship without breaking it. That means a minimum wall thickness Even though you have a Su cube that reports as solid that odes not mean it is 3d printable. It is necessary but not sufficient check because of other checks made down stream. You cost is based on the material used so printing a total solid cube will be expensive so try and have a 1mm wall thickness. Netfabb is one source for free app that will do other checks. Shapeway had, don’t know if they still do, you can post your model to their cloud and they will run their free check.

Relating to cost issues, PLA printers (plastic printers like makerbot and ultimaker) will print a very thin layer to support overhangs during the printing process which can get costly if you have a huge overhang. So either try to avoid overhangs or make them smaller or print separately.

Example, let’s say you’re trying to print the letter T, it has two overhangs, so the printer will bring a thin layers all the way up to the T overhang. A solution could be to print the letter T lying down where there’s no overhangs, or in 2 pieces so it’s 2 I-shaped pieces. Both solutions will only take up the needed amount of plastic and no extra support pieces for the printing process. These thin supporting pieces can easily be broken off and sanded after printing.

Hi, I’m not familiar with 3d printing I just started to check them out and I was wondering if for architectural purpose the entry level are worth it? I saw online for printing a building they use $20000-150000 printers def not affordable for me so, It’s something like Flashforge 3d printer good to recreate nice little house models? How much is going to cost to print a model in general (like a house)

If you have any goos site that eplain and show thing please let me know

I am not familiar with the available printers, but the examples I have seen from “hobbyist” models would suite quite OK for printing small house models, and larger ones could be printed in multiple parts.


It will depend mostly on what you want to print. The term “entry level” has changed a lot in the past couple of years and some of the newer printers will produce results that may be more than adequate for your needs. The main consideration is the work volume as this will limit how large a model (or piece of a model) that you can print at one time.

3DUniverse has a good example of a part printed with a FlashForge Creator:

If you are printing your own models, it will directly depend on the cost and amount of the plastic filament used. For example, a 40’ x 50’ house printed at 1:144 scale might look like this as a solid house (on a MakerBot, for example):

At 3 to 5 cents per gram, this will cost less than $3.00 or $4.00. However, it will take almost 18 hours to print (and that’s without consideration of support material and its own print time).

The same model hollowed out will save some on both time and materials:

Some of the sites are a bit stale … this one seems pretty current:

Thanks so much for all the info. Do you have one? Which model and what do you generally print?

Well how big do you want to print mine has about a 7 inch cube of space to do it in and in 2 colours

Hi Lynne, I don’t know how big I need to go, our projects go from a 2000sqf to 30000sqf villas so I guess the big one are going to be printed in pieces but as I said i’n new to this so I don’t really know.

One thing I read is that they are hard to set up at the beginning like to level the printer etc… the post was 2 years old is that still the case? Also is better one the is all close in to warm it up faster?


Well after watching several video’s I have figured out how to make bigger parts but have to make a spot where they connect at like a pin through a hole . . The one I got was in parts and it took me about in real time about 3 days of really working a couple of hours here and a few hours there for weeks . . And set up is a file you up load via Arduino IDE and I use Slic3r and Repeiter-Host for the parts ( Slic3r is a program which cuts the part into layers and makes the G-Code ) ( Repetier-Host connects to the 3D Printer and runs the G code to make the part ) I use Linux, Ubuntu 15.10 64 bit and load Virtual Box to run Windows 7-1 in never looses the drivers for mouse or graphics like the ones who seem to keep me in stitches with all the problems they have running some video card or mouse ( Virtual Box adds its own drivers and it all works even with BIG FILES not the fastest in the world but gets there ) . . So you may have to make the BIG house in maybe 3 to say 6 parts which go together and files that big will take a lot of hours of running the 3D printer HAHAHA maybe sleep a lot LMAO
I made a vase about 3 inches tall and had curves side took almost 8 hours but I cut the size of layers down to .002 per and on lt had the top 10 and bottom 10 layers be made 100 % infill . . Words you will get to know when doing this stuff and doing the set up of Slic3r or what ever you use for making the G-Code
I used a travel indicator to get he BED REALLY level for first part and checked the flatness, was not bad ( I marked which way it was on the heated bed and re leveled the bed to the part it made ) . . Next parts were really flat ! . . I made a 3.5 inch by 1/8 inch thick washer no hole in it and marked the way it was turned . . checked all four corners after removing it . . OH yeah do not put the 3D printer close to vents where cold drafts will come from as it will make the part come loose from the board . . I built a box to put the printer in with 9 1/2 inch tall walls and a 2 foot square bottom ( so you can reach in and turn off the power supply to the 3D printer ) Now it sits on the floor just behind my Laptop . . Think I should take a picture of it . . and add it here

Provided you can get to the part. Some of the analysis tools also state angle ranges up to abt 45dges before they add supports and those, in some cases, can also cause problems.

You make it sound so complicated with all those info hahahah… Just kidding thanks for the detailed info I need to watch some videos but one thing I was wondering is you said you had the printer close to the laptop but it’s not toxic to keep in close spaces? You are melting plastic and the fumes are not that good no?

Naw its is in a big room like 25 feet by 30 feet and the fumes are not there at al If they were the 3D printer would be further away … ( NO SMELL at all ) The Filament is put down via a nozzel of 4 mm in size that is like a NEEDLE of melted plastic going down at a time and it gets laid on a heated bed that is 62 to 64 degrees C hurt your hands if you touched it but cooler than the 205 degree C heat put out by the filament heaters and the temp for ABS is higher yet !

I don’t have my own printer … I’ve used an on-line vendor for all of my printing needs. However, I’ve installed the MakerBot software on my computer and it allows me to simulate printing with STL files (I also have Slic3r installed for the same reason).

I print all sorts of things. My only architectural model is this one (printed in dyed gypsum/sandstone):

I’ve also printed way too many things in gold and silver for my wife … a steel nameplate for my boss … some bronze and silver workplace logos … a bronze nameplate for a mural on our back wall … a 1:2 scale model of my HP 15c calculator … some itty-bitty interlocking cubes … some spherical gears in dyed nylon … and many more mostly experimental prints in laser-sintered nylon. To date, I have spent about $5,000 on various 3D prints, but amortized over the past three years, it’s a lot cheaper than buying and maintaining the printers (and kilns and molds, etc. needed for some processes). Ironically, although I’ve had things printed in a wide variety of materials, I’ve never had anything printed in ABS or PLA.

I’ll just say to cast a wide overview over what’s available.

There’s been a lot said of the PLA/ABS variety.

However Laser based printers offer better resolution SLA / SLS.

and then there are also modified additive printers such as the MarkForged which embeds a strand of fiberglass into nylon filament, or Kevlar/carbon fiber… and yield print strengths close to aluminum casting.

There’s a lot to be said of following in @jimhami42 footsteps, and pushing some orders through a 3D printer service. I get the feeling the best money spent is only on printers which haven’t yet become available. The technology is moving fast, and jumping in full strength during the early days is a guarantee of buying into obsolescence.

although we’re currently leaving the early phase of this, and it’s getting a bit more stable with better pricing options for the better technologies.

Looks nice did you make the seperate logs ? or all one piece ?

I know that for sure… if you use a commercial service like Shapeways, they will print the model solid if the object is as you described, (like a cube).

Ironically, all of my models have to be solid because I have them 3d printed in castable wax (for casting into metal).

It’s definitely too expensive to buy your own wax printing machine… but not casting the wax models into gold, silver, or bronze, etc.

You’d be surprised how low cost it can be to cast your own metal objects.

I made my own electric kiln at a cost of about 90 dollars. (just insulation brickes, an element, and a 22 dollar temperature controller). It’s absolutely ridiculous that buying an electric kiln starts at 1000 dollars. All they are is some insulation, one or two pieces of wire elements (that literally cost like 10 to 20 bucks), and a temperature controller with or without ramp up program. But the controllers cost very little money to make. So either kiln companies have a liability cost that is 90% of their total costs… or they make insanely huge profits on each unit.

For 120 bucks you can buy a small centrifugal casting machine. Then you just need a few odds and ends but of course a decent torch helps a lot. 250 bucks will get you a nice used torch that can last a lifetime.