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A Comprehensive Guide On How To Create High Quality STL Files For 3D Prints

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For 3D printing a part or a functional prototype, all you need to get correct is the design file. The most popular design file format is the STL file. And although it’s not very tricky to create high quality STL files for 3D prints, it’s not easy as well. Also, there is plenty of information available on how to get an STL file to create an object, there isn’t much about how to create one! So, today let’s read about the stepwise procedure for creating high quality STL files for 3D prints.

Step 1: Choosing a CAD Program

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All the 3D design files are created on one of many different CAD software. And there are many options available online but only some of them are really worth using. Also, there is a lot of confusion about whether to choose a free version of the software or the paid ones. So, to clear it out, we are only recommending free CAD programs available online for creating 3D design files.

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Here are the four most popular CAD programs for beginners:

  • TinkerCAD
  • Sketchup
  • FreeCAD
  • Onshape

All the four mentioned above work great for beginners but TinkerCAD has primarily been created while keeping in mind newbies to 3D printing. Meaning that it isn’t as complicated as the other three. You can get a hold of the software within the very first five minutes. After you’ve decided which CAD program to go with, you need to start designing a model.

Step 2: Creating a Design Using the Chosen Software

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For creating a design using any of the four software mentioned above you can make use of the video tutorials available online. These tutorials guide you step by step to learn how to create designs. They make use of all the tools available in the program, thereby making you familiar with all of them. So, that even when you are done creating a design with the help of the tutorial you can comfortably start on your own.

Experts recommend starting by designing something from the households such as bottles, cups, small boxes, containers, or other things on the same note. To note your accuracy, you can buy calipers available on Amazon or other eCommerce giants.

Step 3: Saving and Exporting the Entire Design on your Computer

After you are done creating your design, you’ll have to save and export the same on your computer. While doing so, ensure that the file’s extension is STL – the most common extension valid for almost all 3D printers. Some software such as TinkerCAD is intuitive, in the sense that they auto-saves each change so there is hardly any chance of losing any work.

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The ‘Export’ button is present on the top right corner and when you click it, a pop-up box will be seen on the screen with a few options. Choose the relevant option to export the designed file on your computer.

Step 4: Choosing a Slicer Program

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When it comes to slicing, Cura is the name that you’ll see suggested by different websites. It’s the slicing software that’s specifically recommended for 3D printer hobbyists for making their files print-ready. So, if you too are a beginner in the field it’s advisable to go with Cura. Not only is it beginner-friendly, but also it doesn’t take too long to get a grasp over the same. Some other names of slicers are Prusa and ChiTuBox.

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If you are a 3D printing beginner and don’t own a 3D printer, here are some of the Best 3D Printers for Beginners in the Market Right Now!

Step 5: Slicing your file with Desired Settings Into a G-code File

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Slicing a file means preparing a CAD model for turning it into a G-code file that 3D printers can make use to create an object. G-codes are nothing else than instructions that tell a 3D printer what to do, which way to move at what temperature, and fan speed. While slicing a file, you can also have a preview of your model wherein viewing of each layer from the very base, to the top is possible.

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Slicing allows you to control functions such as:

  • Print speed
  • Nozzle temperature
  • Bed temperature
  • Retraction settings
    Print order prioritization
  • Cooling fan settings
  • Infill percentage
  • Infill pattern

Although the above-mentioned functions are not all, slicing also lets you get a hold of more functions.

The Conclusion

Following these steps lead you to the creation of high quality STL files for 3D prints that can then be easily fed to your 3D printer, even if you’re a beginner. Once you’ve sliced a 3D-designed model you can simply get your USB or micro SD with the printer, plug it into your laptop or PC, and select the ‘save to removable device’ button to start 3D printing.

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Though at the start, following them completely might be difficult, once you get used to it, you can become an expert in no time. So, what are you waiting for? Start your journey of creating high quality STL files for 3D prints!