+1 888 963 9028

What Are Essential 3D Printing Tools and Accessories?

To harness the full potential of 3D printing technology, equipping oneself with the right 3D printing accessories and tools is crucial. These essentials not only enhance the printing experience but also ensure the quality and durability of your creations.

From maintenance to post-processing, every stage of the 3D printing process demands specific tools to tackle challenges like oozing filament, rough edges, or achieving the perfect print bed adhesion.

For example, some filaments like PVA and Nylon need to be dried to print properly and produce higher quality 3D printed parts and reducing the risk of failing a print job.

This guide delves into the indispensable tools and accessories that promise to elevate your 3D printing projects.

Cleaning and Maintenance

A seamless 3D printing process is reliant on not just the 3D printer itself but also on the upkeep of its components.

The importance of regular cleaning and maintenance cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts the printer’s performance and the quality of printed objects.

Let’s delve into the essential tools that play a pivotal role in this upkeep, ensuring your prints are consistently of the highest caliber.

Nozzle Cleaning Kit

The extruder nozzle, a critical component of the 3D printer, is prone to clogging due to the continuous extrusion of various filaments.

A nozzle cleaning kit, equipped with fine needles, is designed to meticulously remove any filament residue or obstruction. This not only ensures a smooth filament flow for future prints but also helps in maintaining the desired print quality, especially when handling detailed models or using materials that are prone to oozing.

Isopropyl Alcohol

To achieve flawless adhesion of the first layer, a clean print bed is paramount. At least 70% Isopropyl alcohol wipes and a paper towel are indispensable for this purpose, efficiently removing grease, residue, or any particulate matter.

Their use fosters a pristine surface, crucial for the initial layer’s adhesion and, by extension, the overall integrity and aesthetics of the finished print.

Regularly wiping down the print bed with Isopropyl alcohol before each print can markedly reduce issues related to bed adhesion and support material removal.

Brushes for Cleaning

Accumulated dust and residual filament can adversely affect a printer’s functionality and the print’s quality. Brushes designed for cleaning, with their soft bristles, offer a gentle yet effective solution for maintaining cleanliness in and around delicate printer parts.

Regular use helps in averting potential print failures attributed to dust interference, ensuring the printer remains in optimal working condition.

Lubricants

The longevity and smooth operation of a 3D printer’s moving parts hinge on proper lubrication. Selecting a lubricant that’s compatible with your printer ensures that components such as rods and bearings operate seamlessly, reducing the risk of wear and enhancing overall machine efficiency.

A meticulously maintained machine, lubricated at regular intervals, stands as a testament to the adage that prevention is better than cure, especially in the realm of 3D printing where precision is paramount.

Post-Processing Tools

After the whirl of your 3D printer comes to a halt and your creation takes its first solid form, the journey from a rough diamond to a polished gem begins.

This phase, known as post-processing, involves a variety of tools and techniques designed to refine, enhance, and perfect your printed parts.

Each tool in this arsenal has a unique role, ensuring your finished print not only meets but exceeds expectations.

Here, we explore the essential tools that play a leading role in transforming your 3D prints from good to exceptional.

Sandpaper

Sandpaper is your first port of call for smoothing out those inevitable rough edges and bringing a smooth finish to your prints. With different grits at your disposal, you can meticulously graduate from coarser to finer grades, erasing layer lines and blemishes to achieve a surface that’s almost indistinguishable from injection-molded parts. It’s particularly useful for prints that will be painted or displayed, where surface quality is paramount.

Carving Knives Sculpture Tool Kit

Precision is key in post-processing, and a set of carving knives allows you to carefully remove unwanted support material or refine details in your print. Their varied shapes and sizes make them perfect for accessing tight corners and intricate areas, ensuring your model retains its intended dimensions and design integrity.

Palette Knives

Palette knives, commonly associated with painting, find a surprising application in 3D printing for applying and smoothing fillers or adhesives. Their flexible blades are ideal for mixing and applying substances to fill in gaps or imperfections, ensuring a uniform finish across the print’s surface.

X-Acto Knife Set

An X-Acto knife set is indispensable for its precision and versatility in cutting away fine strands of oozing filament or tidying up small imperfections. The sharp, replaceable blades allow for detailed work, such as separating support material from the final print without causing damage.

Rotary tool

A rotary tool, like a dremel, with its vast array of attachments, offers a one-stop solution for drilling, grinding, cutting, and sanding. Its high-speed rotation is perfect for modifying printed parts, creating smooth surfaces, or even engraving details post-print. It’s especially useful for working on prints made from harder materials that require more than manual effort to refine.

Deburring Tool

A deburring tool is specifically designed to remove burrs and produce a clean finish on edges and holes. After printing, it’s common to find small, rough areas where the filament has oozed or where supports have been removed; a deburring tool easily smooths these out, enhancing both the aesthetic and functional quality of the print.

Heat Gun

A heat gun can be a game-changer for post-processing, particularly for thermoplastic materials. It allows you to carefully soften the surface of a print to flatten out irregularities or blend seams where parts have been glued together. Additionally, it can be used to remove or smooth support material remnants, ensuring a flawless finish.

Soldering Iron

A soldering iron might seem like an unlikely candidate for a post-processing tool, yet it finds its place in the toolkit for its ability to weld plastic parts together or add fine details. With a careful hand, it can be used to smooth out surfaces or modify the shape of a print after it has cooled.

H2: Measurement and Calibration

The backbone of any successful 3D printing project lies not just in the creativity or the technology used but also in the precision and accuracy of measurements and calibrations. These initial steps ensure that the final print matches the envisioned design to the highest degree of accuracy, thereby reducing material waste and saving time on potential reprints. Let’s delve into the essential tools that play a pivotal role in achieving this precision, making them indispensable for enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Digital Caliper

A digital caliper is a quintessential tool for anyone involved in 3D printing. It allows for precise measurement of the dimensions of both the printed parts and the raw materials before printing.

Whether you’re checking the thickness of a filament or the exact size of a component, a digital caliper provides the accuracy needed to ensure your project’s specifications are met. Its use becomes crucial when creating parts designed to fit together or when working to specific tolerances required by certain designs.

Hex Key Wrench Set

Assembly and disassembly of 3D printers, as well as adjustments to the extruder nozzle or print bed, often require tools that can handle small, precise movements. A hex key wrench set is ideal for these tasks, offering a variety of sizes to fit the different bolts and screws commonly found in 3D printers.

With a slip-resistant grip, these wrenches allow for better control and force application, ensuring a snug fit and reducing the risk of stripping or damaging your printer’s components.

Screwdriver Set

A comprehensive screwdriver set is indispensable for maintaining and calibrating a 3D printer. From adjusting the tension on belts to securing components, these tools ensure you can easily access and manipulate various parts of the printer.

A good quality set includes various sizes and types (Phillips, flat-head, and possibly Torx), catering to the diverse needs of 3D printing machinery. Its utility extends beyond the printer itself, useful in assembling print beds or opening compartments to access internal parts.

Wrench and Channel Locks

Changing the extruder nozzle is a common maintenance task for any 3D printer, necessitating tools that can handle high temperatures and provide a firm grip without causing damage. Wrenches designed specifically for nozzle changes meet these requirements.

They allow for the careful removal and tightening of nozzles, ensuring a perfect seal that prevents filament leaks during printing. These tools are critical for maintaining print quality, as even a slight misalignment or gap can lead to significant issues with print fidelity.

H2: Print Removal and Adhesion

Two critical stages in the 3D printing process are ensuring the print adheres to the bed during printing and is safely removed upon completion.

Achieving this balance is crucial; too much adhesion can make removal a challenge, risking damage to both the print and the build plate, while too little can cause the print to fail.

Below, we explore essential tools and materials that aid in this delicate dance, ensuring your projects come to life as intended.

3D Print Removal Tool

A 3D print removal tool is designed with a thin, flat edge to gently slide under prints and lift them from the build plate without causing damage. This tool is invaluable when you’re dealing with prints that have a large surface area in contact with the bed or are particularly stubborn. The key is to use a tool that is rigid enough to get under the print but flexible enough not to damage the underlying build plate.

Flexible Build Plate

The flexible build plate is a game-changer for print removal. After printing, you can simply remove the entire plate and bend it, popping the print off effortlessly. This tool is especially useful for delicate prints that might break under too much force or when you’re printing with materials prone to adhering too strongly to the bed. The flexibility of the plate also reduces the wear and tear on your print bed over time.

Build Plate Adhesive Sheets

Adhesive sheets provide an even layer of adhesion across the build plate, ensuring that prints stick during the printing process but can be removed with ease. These sheets are particularly useful for materials that have a tendency to warp or lift at the corners. The uniform adhesion also helps in reducing instances of prints detaching mid-print, leading to failed projects.

PVA Glue Stick

A PVA glue stick applied to the print bed can improve adhesion for a wide range of materials. It’s particularly effective for preventing warping in materials that are prone to shrinking as they cool. The glue stick layer can be easily washed off with water, making cleanup a breeze and ensuring your build plate is ready for its next use.

3D Printing Adhesive

Specially formulated 3D printing adhesives are designed to work at high temperatures, providing a strong hold during printing and releasing the print once cooled. These adhesives are ideal for materials that have a high tendency to warp or for prints with small contact points on the bed. They can be applied sparingly and last for multiple prints, making them a cost-effective solution.

BuildTak

BuildTak is a durable, plastic sheet that provides an optimal printing surface for 3D printers. It offers excellent adhesion and can be used with almost any type of filament. The surface also protects the build plate from damage. BuildTak sheets are reusable, easy to apply, and provide a consistent foundation for your prints, reducing the need for frequent bed calibration.

H2: Filament Management

In the world of 3D printing, the journey from a spool of filament to a finished product is fraught with challenges, not least of which is managing the filament itself. Proper filament management is crucial not just for maintaining the quality and longevity of the filament, but also for ensuring consistent print quality. Moisture, dust, and tangles can turn a potentially perfect print into a frustrating mess. Here, we explore the tools and accessories designed to keep your filament in pristine condition, enhancing your 3D printing experience.

Filament Storage Container

A filament storage container is designed to protect your filament from moisture and dust, two of the bi

ggest threats to filament quality. These containers are often airtight and may include desiccant pouches to absorb any moisture that might be present. Using a storage container is particularly important in humid climates or if the filament will be stored for long periods between prints. Keeping your filament dry ensures it melts evenly during printing, reducing issues like oozing and poor layer adhesion.

PrintDry Filament Storage Container

The PrintDry Filament Storage Container takes filament protection a step further by creating a sealed environment that not only keeps out moisture but can actively remove it. These containers can be used in conjunction with the PrintDry Filament Dryer to dry out filaments that have absorbed moisture, restoring them to an optimal state for printing. This is especially useful for materials like nylon that are highly hygroscopic and can degrade in quality if left exposed to air.

PrintDry Filament Dryer

Moisture is the enemy of good print quality, causing issues such as steam bubbles, stringing, and warping.

Most filaments print at 200C or above, and filaments must be dry before beginning the printing process. If a filament is still wet during printing, the moisture from the wet filament will vaporize in the nozzle. This will have a high chance of printing failure and cause a poor final print quality. Nylon and PVA are two typical examples of filaments absorb moisture from the air.

It is necessary to dry them out before printing. It is recommended to dry out PLA and ABS filaments if they were exposed to air for more than one week, especially in an area that contains high humidity.

The PrintDry Filament Dryer addresses this problem head-on by heating the filament to a specific temperature to drive out moisture before it reaches the printer. This tool is invaluable for maintaining the integrity of sensitive materials and ensuring that each print comes out as expected, without the frustration of moisture-related defects.

Dryboxes

When filaments are dried, it means low moisture has left the filament. If the material property is hydrophilic, meaning if the dried filament is left in the open air, it will begin to absorb moisture, making it wet again. And wet filaments lead to a failed print job.

Sometimes filaments used in projects with a longer printing time are exposed to the moisture in the air longer. In such cases, after a certain amount of hours, the filaments can become wet again which will lead to a failed print job.

A 3D printer accessory such as the Polybox is a dry box that works with industrial 3D printers to keep filaments dry during the printing process. The PolyBox features a filament guide tube from the PolyBox to the 3D printer’s extruder to prevent any moisture from affecting the filament during the printing process.

Flush Cutter

A clean cut at the end of your filament can make feeding it into your printer much easier and reduce the chances of clogs. A filament cutter is a simple tool, often designed with a specific blade angle and handle to cleanly and easily snip filament to the desired length. This tool is essential for quickly changing between different colors or types of filament, ensuring a smooth transition and a clean start to each print job.

Desiccant Pouches

Desiccant pouches are a low-tech but highly effective way to manage moisture in filament storage containers. These pouches contain silica gel or another desiccant material that absorbs moisture from the air, keeping the filament dry.

Available at reasonable price, they are an inexpensive way to protect your investment in filament and can be easily replaced or recharged by drying them out, making them a staple in any 3D printer’s toolkit.

Desiccant Dehumidifiers – Silica Gel Packets

Similar to desiccant pouches, silica gel packets offer a compact and convenient method for controlling the moisture level in filament storage. These packets are often found in new products to keep them dry during shipping and can be repurposed for filament storage. Placing a few packets in your filament storage container or drawer can help maintain a dry environment, ensuring your filament remains in optimal condition for printing.

Spool Holder

A spool holder is designed to keep your filament spool organized and unravel-free during printing. It supports the spool to allow for smooth, consistent unspooling of filament, preventing tangles and snags that can lead to print failures. Some spool holders are adjustable, accommodating different sizes and weights of spools, and may include features like bearings for smoother rotation, further enhancing the reliability of your filament feed.

H2: Safety Equipment

In the realm of 3D printing, the excitement of creating something from virtually nothing is often front and center. However, the importance of safety during this process cannot be overstressed. Utilizing the correct safety equipment ensures that your health and well-being are protected while you bring your creative visions to life. Here, we delve into the essential safety tools and accessories that should accompany any 3D printing endeavor.

Goggles

Goggles serve as a fundamental layer of protection against potential hazards in the 3D printing environment. They are designed to shield your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light emitted by some printers, as well as from any particulate matter that might be released during the printing process. Whether you’re working with a standard filament printer or delving into resin-based 3D printing, goggles are indispensable for eye safety.

Smoke Detector

A smoke detector is a crucial safety device in any area dedicated to 3D printing. The risk of a fire is present, especially during long prints or when experimenting with new materials. A smoke detector can provide an early warning, allowing you to take swift action to mitigate any potential danger, thus safeguarding not just your workspace, but also your creations.

Fire Extinguisher

Having a fire extinguisher readily available in your 3D printing area is essential. In the rare event of a fire, quick access to an extinguisher can prevent catastrophic damage. It’s important to choose an extinguisher suitable for electrical fires, as most incidents in 3D printing involve electrical components.

Respirator

A respirator is important for protecting your respiratory system from fine particles that might be emitted during the printing or post-processing stages.

This is particularly relevant when working with resins and doing post processing procedures like sanding prints or working with materials that release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). A good quality respirator can filter out these particles, ensuring your lungs are shielded from potential harm.

Disposable Gloves

Handling certain materials, especially resins used in stereolithography (SLA) printing, can expose your skin to irritants or toxic substances. Disposable gloves provide a barrier against these materials, preventing direct skin contact and reducing the risk of allergic reactions or chemical burns.

Heat-Resistant Gloves

The high temperatures involved in 3D printing necessitate the use of heat-resistant gloves, especially when removing prints from the build plate or when changing hotend components. These gloves can protect your hands from burns and make handling hot objects safer and more comfortable.

Adhesives and Coatings

Adhesives and coatings are two integral parts that enhance the structural integrity and aesthetic quality of prints.

From ensuring parts stick together to smoothing surfaces for a polished finish, these tools are indispensable.

Let’s explore some key adhesives and coatings that every 3D printing enthusiast should have in their toolkit.

Adhesive

Adhesives tailored for 3D printing are designed to bond printed parts securely. These specialized glues cater to the unique needs of different printing materials, offering strong, durable connections without compromising the print’s integrity. Whether you’re assembling multi-part models or reinforcing structures, a reliable 3D printing adhesive is crucial for maintaining the cohesion and strength of your creations.

Super Glue

Super glue, or cyanoacrylate, is a versatile and powerful adhesive that’s useful in a variety of 3D printing applications. Its rapid bonding time and compatibility with many materials make it ideal for quickly joining parts or repairing minor damages. Whether you’re working with PLA, ABS, or more exotic filaments, super glue can provide a strong, permanent bond with minimal clamping time.

Acetone

Acetone is not just a solvent but a transformative coating for ABS prints. When applied, it slightly melts the surface, allowing rough edges and layer lines to blend smoothly. This chemical smoothing technique can significantly enhance the finish of ABS prints, giving them a glossy, injection-molded appearance. However, it’s essential to use acetone in a well-ventilated area due to its strong fumes.

Additional Tools and Accessories

The world of 3D printing is not just about printers and filaments; it’s also about the ancillary tools that make the printing process smoother and more efficient. These additional tools, often overlooked, play crucial roles in maintenance, post-processing, and ensuring the longevity of your equipment. Let’s delve into some of these indispensable tools that should grace every 3D printer’s workspace.

Vacuum Containers

A 3D printer accessory such as the PrintDry Vaccum Container will keep filaments dry in storage.  The PrintDry Vaccum Container features a special vacuum valve and pump which suck the air out of the container creating a vacuum seal.

The vacuum seal prevents moisture in the air from entering the storage container. The PrintDry Vacuum Container indicates when the vacuum seal has been created.  The center of the vacuum valve will collapse inwards from its original dome shape once the vacuum seal is created.

3D Printer Carts

Professional 3D printers such as dual extruder 3D printers and large format  3D printers that are larger than desktop 3D printers need a dedicated workspace.

Carts are an excellent way of giving the 3D printer its needed workspace.

For example, Raise3D offers pedestal printer carts with wheels to roll around. These pedestal carts are designed to keep work at eye-level. Raise3D pedestal carts can bring the printer to the proper operating height so the user can easily operate the 3D printer without having to bend over.

Finally, the carts also help to organize any tools needed during the 3D printing process while also storing accessories, filaments, and parts.

Pliers

Pliers are a must-have in any 3D printing toolkit. They come in handy for a variety of tasks, from removing support material to adjusting parts on the printer itself. With their strong grip and precision, pliers can carefully lift delicate prints from the build plate, tighten or loosen parts during maintenance, and remove any excess filament or oozing that may occur around the extruder nozzle.

Tweezers

Tweezers are essential for manipulating small or delicate parts and for post-processing prints. They are perfect for plucking away oozing filament strands and handling hot components safely.

A good quality pair of tweezers with a fine, slip-resistant grip can be one of the most used tools in your 3D printing arsenal, providing the precision and control needed for intricate tasks.

Electronics Toolkit

An electronics toolkit is fundamental for any 3D printing enthusiast engaging in printer maintenance or modifications. These kits often include precision screwdrivers, pliers, and tweezers, which are essential for assembling electronic components, adjusting printer settings, and ensuring smooth operation.

Whether you’re installing a new extruder nozzle or calibrating your printer, an electronics toolkit provides the necessary tools for detailed and delicate work.

Nozzles

Replacement nozzles are critical components in 3D printing, directly affecting print quality and material compatibility. Nozzles come in various sizes and materials, such as brass for general use or hardened steel for abrasive filaments.

Changing the nozzle based on the filament type or desired resolution can lead to better print quality, fewer extrusion problems, and a broader range of printing capabilities.

Hardened Nozzles

There are also hardened nozzles that are mandatory for applications that require filaments made with composite materials such as carbon fiber, glass fiber, etc. Composite materials are harder than brass and will be abrasive to the brass nozzle.

This will damage the brass nozzle by enlarging the nozzle tip size. When this occurs, the print file settings no longer match the actual nozzle size on the 3D printer. In this situation, the print quality decreases, and the risk of a failed print job increases.

There are three kinds of hardened nozzles. The first is a brass nozzle with a hardened coating, such as the current hardened nozzles on the Raise3D printers. Since the nozzles are mainly brass, the heat conductivity is not affected, meaning the printing temperature is not affected much.

Finally, brass nozzles with a hardened coating are the most affordable. However, it is recommended to keep spare hardened coated nozzles to replace the hardened nozzle whenever the coating wears off.

The second type is a high-speed steel nozzle with WS2 coating. It is abrasion-resistant, with a high printing performance, and priced between the brass nozzle with a hardened coating and the brass nozzle with a ruby tip.

The third and final type of hardened nozzle is a brass nozzle with ruby tips. Brass nozzles with ruby tips have an overall good printing performance, but they are also quite expensive. It is not uncommon for brass nozzles with ruby tips to be priced as high as $100 per nozzle.

Cutting Mat

A cutting mat serves as a protective surface for post-processing tasks, such as trimming supports or cutting parts to size. These mats are marked with grids to aid in precise measurements and are made from materials that self-heal, preventing damage from blades and tools. Using a cutting mat not only protects your work surface but also enhances safety and accuracy in finishing your prints.

3D Printing Pen

A 3D printing pen can be a versatile tool for weld-repairing prints, adding small details, or even creating supports manually. It extrudes heated filament that cools and solidifies quickly, allowing for hand-drawn 3D structures. This tool is particularly useful for artistic enhancements or making functional adjustments to printed parts.

Cordless Rotary Tool

A cordless rotary tool is invaluable for detailed post-processing work. With attachments for cutting, sanding, polishing, and engraving, it allows for precision finishing of printed objects. Whether smoothing rough edges, creating textures, or removing excess material, a rotary tool can significantly improve the appearance and functionality of your prints.

Flexible Magnetic Sheets for 3D Print Beds

Flexible magnetic sheets can be applied to the print bed to improve print adhesion and simplify print removal. The magnetic base sticks to the bed, while the flexible top layer ensures prints can be easily removed by bending the sheet. This solution is particularly effective for large prints or materials prone to warping, providing a secure hold during printing and reducing potential damage upon removal.

Solutions for Better Finish

Achieving a superior finish on printed objects often requires additional treatments. Solutions like vapor smoothing for ABS prints, epoxy coatings for strength and aesthetics, or automotive primers for paint preparation can dramatically enhance the quality of the final product. Each solution is designed to address specific challenges, such as smoothing layer lines, increasing durability, or preparing surfaces for painting.

Conclusion

The success of a 3D printing project is not solely determined by the printer’s capabilities but also by the tools and accessories at the maker’s disposal.

From basic tools for assembly and maintenance to specialized adhesives and coatings for post-processing, these resources play an essential role in transforming a good print into a great one.

Whether streamlining the printing process, enhancing the durability of printed parts, or achieving a flawless finish, the thoughtful selection and application of 3D printing tools and accessories are indispensable.

Have you had a great experience with Raise3D that you would like to share? Please contact us at inquiry@raise3d.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information about Raise3D printers and services, browse our website, or schedule a demo with one of our 3D printing experts.