Wanting to take the leap into 3D printing but don't know where to begin? Whether it's making a decision on purchasing the right machine or knowing the proper software tools to use when designing a 3D object, those wishing to enter the world of 3D printing must often cobble together resources online in order to get a clearer understanding of the 3D printing process.
While there is a growing library of specialized books on the subject, ultimately what's needed is an in-depth manual that covers all aspects of the 3D printing pipeline from designing printable objects to troubleshooting machines. Recently released, Mastering 3D Printing by Joan Horvath is a more definitive guide. It is one of the few books on the subject that will give newcomers a confident understanding of how 3D printing works.
It begins with an excellent history that paints a picture of how consumer 3D printing got started with insightful details on the RepRap movement and its evolution. That historical recounting naturally gears the book towards filament-based desktop 3D printing, making it an ideal reference for owners of desktop, filament-based machines. As such, it focuses more on filament-based concepts such as infills, creating support structures and techniques to ensure that prints stick to plate while still being removable.
After discussing the evolution of consumer-based 3D printing, the author segues into an in-depth analysis of various types of desktop filament-based printers, giving a breakdown of a 3D printer's anatomy by providing an overview of various components (such as the extruder and hot end).
From there, the next chapters cover the 3D printing process, providing a rundown on the various ways to acquire models (i.e. designing with modeling software, online archives, and scanning), the pre-printing process of slicing (the act of dividing a computer-generated model into sections analogous to printable layers) and the optional post-processes of sanding, smoothing and painting final prints.
The book excels in giving technical details on the most important aspects of the 3D printing pipeline. In addition to slicing, readers can learn how G-code controls the printer and the various host programs available to send files to the printer. Hands-on troubleshooting techniques are also given, such as stopping a print during a job, changing filament and unclogging the extruder nozzle.
Case studies are discussed, describing several 3D printing scenarios that investigate techniques mentioned in earlier chapters. Each given scenario goes through the 3D printing process, beginning with the initial design of the model, and then how to use the software MatterControl to set up the print for final output. The outlined studies range from simple (creating a pendant) to very complex (printing a fully assembled gimbal). Each study tackles issues that everyday 3D printer users may encounter.
The final chapter establishes the role 3D printing plays in education and in scientific visualization. It is here that the author's many years of experience in aeronautic science and education shine, unveiling some very inventive ideas for using 3D printing within school curriculums. Ms. Horvath provides real-world class projects that can be highly informative for any instructor wishing to introduce 3D printing to a group of students.
With a broad range of material covered, Mastering 3D Printing is a solid reference text for seasoned 3D printing enthusiasts and an excellent manual for newcomers. Whether new to personal 3D printing or just wanting to learn more, it is a welcome addition to any bookshelf.