Many of today’s 3D printers come equipped with features that reduce the need for operator interaction and in some cases make some tools, like bed leveling shims, obsolete. Still there are a handful of tools that you won’t want to be without if you are running a 3D printer.
Here is a list of five tools that will prove to be a huge help with preparing, producing and cleaning up after your 3D prints.
This is the classic method for removing parts from the print bed. It’s a good idea to have more than one size, depending on if you are removing a very large part, or have to work around some delicate features. I’ve had good luck using a set of very thin spatulas with rounded corners, this keeps me from damaging the PEI surface on my print bed. Unfortunately there are times where parts are just fused so well to the bed, and it’s to get a corner lifted.
The new wave of removable spring-steel sheets will likely become mainstream soon. The spatula is handy, but I doubt anything will beat being able to bend the bed and pop the part off of the plate. Prusa Research and Buildtak have removable bed options available and seem pretty reliable, easy to use, and relatively affordable. Until you have one of these beauties, the spatula is a must.
I’ve also had good luck using an actual wood chisel to remove large stubborn parts that are ready stuck to the bed. Both are available at Amazon for cheap:
It’s surprising how I got so far in life having never picked up a pair of flush cutters until I got in to 3D printing. You can certainly get by without them, but they will save you a lot of time when trying to trim away support remnants, or any bits of plastic you need to remove when cleaning up a printed part. They also work great for trimming filament or even if you need to make some minor alterations to your plastic parts.
Pick one up at Amazon by clicking HERE
This one does kind of depend on your printers build surface, but overall, glue stick is going to save you at some point. Maybe you are printing PETG on a PEI surface, or trying your hand at printing with Nylon, gluestick gives you that bit of adhesive and a bit of a barrier to keep the molten plastic from fusing your your build surface forever. My recommendation is to buy Elmers purple school glue in the 40 gram size. It’s usually easier to find online than in office stores. The reason I like this size is that its wider than what you commonly find in office supplies stores, which means fewer strokes to cover your build area, and generally you end up with a more even coat of glue with less globs or buildup.
Glue stick cleans up easily with just water, and the purple color helps to show when your bed is completely glue-free.
Inevitably, if you have a 3D printer, the day will come when someone asks you to build something for them, and I’m not talking about a cool vase they saw on Thiniverse. “This piece broke, can you make me a new one?”
I’ve found the digital caliper is so much easier and more precise than using a ruler. Easily measure inside and outside dimensions, holes and even depth of cavities. Even inexpensive models beat the pants off of trying to do all of this with a ruler. Just be sure to stock up on the tiny batteries they use.
Get yourself a Digital Caliper from Amazon HERE
Spare Nozzle / Tools
It’s going to happen. At some point your nozzle is going to jam and you’re going to be stuck with no 3D printer if you don’t have the necessary tools to get going again. An acupuncture needle can help clear jams from a nozzle quickly. If that isn’t the cure, it’s smart to have a spare nozzle on hand and the tools to replace it. There are sets of nozzle with wrench/socket, available on Amazon for cheap, and will supply most of what you’ll need to get back up and running should you experience a nozzle jam or excessive nozzle wear that requires replacement. I realize this is not a “single tool” but more of a kit, but still something to consider having before you get too far in to 3D printing.
For nozzles compatible with E3Dv6, I’ve been happy this this set available from Amazon HERE
3ED V6 Nozzle set - Available at Amazon.com
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