Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reprap 3D Printing Toolkit

I wanted to take a few minutes to compile a list of a few useful tools for RepRap 3D printing. I do this because I have been fortunate enough to learn a lot about the tools of the trade from people at school and various other sources, but others may not be that fortunate. I know that there are many other lists of this sort out there, but I will trust the magic of Google to take you to those posts if they are more relevant than mine.


A friend at school that is very experienced with 3D printing recommended Garnier Fructis Style Natural Hairspray. Strength of 4 or 5 works well. I haven't had too many issues with ABS not sticking when using this. Purple Elmer's Glue stick is also a popular bed treatment, but I have not tried that yet.

This is my trusty iTunes giftcard that I use to pry parts off of the build plate and scrape the plate clean. Any credit card will work, or you could spring for an epoxy spreader.

I use a small philips screwdriver to adjust my bed level and change filament. It is one of the few real tools I need unless I am doing serious modifications or repair.

Mini Needle Nose Pliers
I use these to clean off the nozzle just before a part prints. I basically use them to grab anything near something hot.

This is a must for printing with ABS. ABS dissolves with acetone. I brush it on to polish parts (too lazy for vapor polishing) and use it to clean the nozzle and seperate fingers glued together. Note that some nail polish remover contains acetone, but I use a bottle from the paint department.

Super Glue (CA)
Plastic glues very well. Printing primarily in ABS, I find that cracks happen. Usually they can be repaired with at drop of CA. While I know from my RC airplane days that there are different thicknesses and even glue with an external hardener, those are more expensive. I use the cheapest stuff walmart sells and it works fine.

Kapton Tape
High temperature electrical tape. This stuff is pretty pricey, but you will likely need some for something. The small roll in the picture came with my Replikeo printer kit. 

An all around must have for any aspiring engineer (in my opinion). I use it to calibrate extruder steps, measure parts when drawing them in CAD, verify printed part dimensions, and basically every other linear measurement less than 6 inches. These are fairly cheap ones from Harbor Freight. They work, but I doubt you will regret buying a decent pair from somewhere else.

Test Prints

Overhang Tests

Overhang Test print


  • RepRap Wiki - The official wiki of the RepRap Project
  • Thingiverse - Run by Makerbot. An archive of CAD models for 3D printing. If you want to make something, search here first to see if someone has already made it.
  • Youmagine - A thingiverse competitor that has sprung up. Some people don't use thingiverse for a variety of reasons. This is another good resource.
  • RichRap Blog - This is a blog that I have personally found useful. He has covered many useful topics over the years.
  • Projects From Tech - A nice blog of generally useful information
  • Google - If at first you don't succeed, Google the problem and find out why.

There are always more tools and test prints out there, but this post is long enough. If you know of any other must have items feel free to comment. I will be interested to see them.