8 Things You Need to do Before your 3D Printer is Delivered

Congratulations on buying your very first 3D printer – or for upgrading to a newer model. In just a few days, you will be 3D printing whenever and whatever you like, be that a super-cool robot action figure or something a bit more serious, such as a product prototype for your new business venture.

Before your 3D printer is delivered, though, there are some things you need to do so that you can get the most from your printer immediately. Below, you will find 8 of those things, which should keep you nice and busy until it’s the day.

1. Understand your 3D printer’s mechanics and components

Zortrax M200 components

Do you know your guide holes from your build plates? Your extruders from your nozzles? Your build chambers from your stepper motors? In our experience, beginners to 3D printing have little knowledge of the mechanics and components of a 3D printer, which obviously puts them at a disadvantage; 3D printers have a wide range of parts, and understanding the mechanics and components of a 3D printer ahead of its delivery will help you to get the most out of it.

You can find out more about 3D printer components in our guide, “Back to Basics“.

We recommend you start your research with head movement mechanics (this includes the printer head, extruder and nozzle system) and electronics, which includes the controller and interface circuitry.

2. Ensure people have the necessary training

3D printer training

To use a 3D printer properly, people need training. For home-based users or office users, reading through the printer’s manual will be sufficient to get started, and you can get access to one ahead of delivery by requesting a digital manual from us or the 3D printer manufacturer. Some manufacturers have also provided users with comprehensive guides online, examples being Ultimaker and MakerBot, the latter producing a comprehensive user guide for the Replicator 2.

For commercial and professional users, more training is needed however, in order to get the best possible results. We provide such 3D printer training which can be tailored to the needs of your business. At one of our 1-day courses, you will learn everything you need to know about 3D printing and we will cover the exact model of 3D printer you have purchased so that you can print expertly. To find out more about our training, please phone 01765 540 115 or email web@goprint3d.co.uk.

3. Make sure the 3D printer will fit through the door

Uiltimaker packaging

You would be surprised by how many people buy a 3D printer without looking at its dimensions – and as a result, by how many people have real trouble getting their 3D printer through the door. It’s important to consider also that the packaging for a 3D printer may be significantly larger than the 3D printer itself – most 3D printers are substantially packaged to protect them in transit. So, it’s definitely worthwhile requesting packaging dimensions from us before you consider delivery, to ensure that you are not left red-faced on the day of delivery.

4. Choose your installation point wisely


If you have purchased a desktop 3D printer, the good news with regards to installation is that your printer is likely to be compact enough to be moved around if you decide to do so. However, your installation points should be considered wisely, because all 3D printers require good ventilation – and this is especially true of large-format 3D printers.As a rule of thumb, fresh air should only be an open window away and your printer should have access to all required electrical outlets, and ideally outlets with surge protection (if using an extension lead). And with regards to placement, we recommend that your printer is installed near or against a wall with a window rather than in the middle of your room.

5. Get your CAD and slicing software ready

3D modelling software

Imaged above, Blender software.

CAD software – CAD software, also referred to as 3D modelling software, is the software that you will use to draw your 3D models. However, not all 3D modelling software is created equal, and some software is tailored more for arts and sculpting while other software is tailored more for engineering. CAD software ranges in price from thousands of pounds to free, and some programs are exceptionally easy to use while others are more challenging.

Here’s 5 of the most respected 3D modelling programs to get you started:

1. Blender – free, open source software for intermediate users
2. SketchUp – free or premium versions, and ideal for beginners
3. Tinkercard – free, and arguably one of the easiest programs to master
4. ZBrush – ideally suited to organic shapes and sculpting
5. Maya – offers a free trial, a very good CAD software with advanced features

Slicing software – Slicing software is an essential for 3D printing. This software takes a 3D drawing and translates it into individual layers. Some 3D printers come with their own slicing software, or they recommend a specific program. For example, Ultimaker recommends Cura software while MakerBot has designed their own slicing software. What most slicing software has in common is that is allows you to calibrate your printer settings for extrusion speed and head speed.

Here’s 5 of the most respected slicing programs to get you started:

1. Cura
2. Slic3r
3. CraftWare
4. 123D Catch
5. 3D Slash

Please note that this is not a complete list – there are many other fantastic programs out there for slicing. Please also note that we are not a partner of any of the programs mentioned above, we have simply recommended them.

6. Buy plenty of filament

3D printer filaments

If you intend to use your 3D printer in a commercial environment, such as to create product prototypes, then you will need plenty of printing material. These are referred to as filaments, and depending on the type of 3D printer you have ordered, you may need plenty of ABS, PLA, nylon, resin, thermoplastic powder or another material.

You can buy all your filaments right here at GoPrint3D – we stock an unparalleled range of filaments. These include branded filaments, such as those created specifically for Formlabs and MakerBot 3D printers, and the highest quality third-party filaments, such as those from ColorFabb. Your 3D printer may come with a pack of filament to get you started (for example, the Bluepinter M3 comes with either 12kg m-flex or 10kg COPA60 thermoplastic powder – whichever you choose), but you’ll get through your material starter pack very quickly in our experience. So we recommend buying your filaments ahead of delivery, to ensure that you can keep 3D printing even through the most intensive use cycles.

7. Print off your Material Safety Datasheets

Material Safety Data Sheets

Material Safety Datasheets, or MSDS’s, contain safety information about materials, and everything you need to know about a material’s physical, chemical and toxicological properties. They also include recommendations for safe handling and information about regulation compliance. We offer free MSDS’s for most of the 3D printers we sell, which you can find on the ‘downloads’ tab of the product’s page. If you can’t find the Material Safety Datasheet you need, get in touch with us or refer to the 3D printer manufacturer’s website. Below, we have listed the pages you need to visit to get MSDS’s for 8 printer brands:

1. Formlabs data sheets
2. Makerbot data sheets
3. Ultimaker data sheets
4. Markforged data sheets
5. Zortrax data sheet (Z-ULTRAT)
6. Afinia data sheets
7. 3D Systems data sheets
8. 3D Platform data sheets

Contact us to get a data sheet for any other brand not mentioned.

Make sure your warehouse knows your printer is coming


Last but not least, we have a point for commercial users who operate a warehouse to distribute deliveries. We have witnessed issues with delivery to commercial users before, due to warehouses being unaware that a 3D printer is being delivered. For some 3D printers, a warehouse will need a pallet truck to unload the printer because the printer may be big and heavy. This is especially true of large-format printers, such as the 3DP Workbench. We strongly advise all commercial users to inform their warehouse of an expected delivery, so that it is not turned away. To find out if your 3D printer will require special unloading procedures, all you have to do is give us a call on 01765 540 115 or email web@goprint3d.co.uk.