In the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) section,we have incorporated all the common qustions asked by people.

Where can I download printable models?

The best place, without question, is It’s a community site run by Makerbot. Great search facilities and a vast library of user-submitted content means it’s easy to find the object you’re looking for. Download your designs from there and get them printed on

How do I build my own printable models?

There are many CAD programs available, including free ones such as Autodesk’s Inventor Fusion – see here for a tutorial. A great place to start is the online CAD service Tinkercad, which is very easy to use – and you can read out beginner’s guide here.

You can also create 3D objects in more unlikely programs, such as Sketchup, Poser and even Photoshop – check out our tutorial here to see just how easy this can be.

When I download models from Thingiverse they’re in STL format. What do I do with them?

STL is the standard interchange format for 3D models. Printer, however, can only read G-Code files, which is the STL model divided into separate slices for each printable layer, along with the instructions for printing that layer.

My sister’s boyfriend says you can print anything you can imagine. Is this true?

No. You can print anything that can support itself while it’s being printed, and that can be made out of plastic. And you do need to have reasonable expectations. You could probably print a scale model of the USS Enterprise, with a supporting structure, but if you want to print a replica of the Mayflower complete with masts, sails and rigging, you’ll be disappointed.

My sister’s boyfriend says pretty soon you’ll be able to print an iPhone, so should I hold off buying one?

In your dreams, sunshine. At present you can only print in plastic, although other materials are being developed – including a copper-based filament, which means you’ll be able to print objects with integral wiring.

But complex electronics are so far in the future it’s unlikely they’ll ever come to pass. If you’re looking for a replicator that can build any object, watch Star Trek instead.

My sister’s boyfriend says pretty soon we’ll be 3D printing food. What time’s lunch?

Your sister’s boyfriend must have some fine qualities, but frankly intelligence isn’t one of them. We’ve seen ludicrous claims in newspapers about how we’ll all be printing guns and drugs, and how civilisation’s about to come to an end. But that’s just journalists getting the wrong end of the stick, as usual. True, there are companies experimenting with fabricating synthetic meat, but that’s hardly the same thing.

Tell your sister’s boyfriend he needs to read less and think more. And while you’re at it, tell your sister to get a new boyfriend.

How long does a 3D print take?

print will take much longer, but will look very much smoother.With some large and complex objects, you may be best setting them to print overnight.

Why does your site only cover filament deposition printing? What about laser sintering?

Good question. Filament deposition printers are the fastest-growing area. They’re also affordable.

Laser Sintering machines, which use a laser beam to fuse objects in a bath of powder, cost about a hundred times as much. While it’s a great technology, we don’t see it going into people’s homes and offices any time soon. Also, we can’t afford one to try it out.

Which material 3D printer uses?

Our printer uses PLA and ABS to print products.

If you’re making a part that’s to be used in a hot environment, such as the wheel on a dishwasher tray or printer fan housing, you may want to use ABS to minimise the chance of it deforming in high temperatures.

There are also differences in how you finish your prints. ABS is soluble in acetone, which means you can wipe it over with the stuff to smooth out any bumps or blemishes. Acetone has no effect on PLA, but generally speaking PLA produces smoother prints to start with.

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