We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
If printing mostly smaller details on your 3D printer you can easily take advantage of the cheaper white painters tape, however if you only place it in the middle you might have some trouble properly leveling up the build platform. So you just need to add some small pieces of tape where the points for leveling up the build platform are located and you should be able to adjust things much easier and faster. We are using the white painters tape as an easier means to remove the printer parts from the build plate as you can easily remove the tape with the printed 3D model on it and then reapply it on the build plate or replace it with another one. You can do the same thing with the Blue 3D painters tape, but it is more expensive and it is not as commonly available as the white painters tape.
We have already discussed what is the support material and what are rafts in 3D printing and why you need to use them and when, but it will be more clear for a lot of people to understand if we just show you. Here you can see a print of a low polygon 3D model of a tiger printed with support material under the body. The two most important and problematic zones if you do not use support material will be the head and the tail as they do not have anything under them as a part of the model and a 3D printer extruding thermoplastic material cannot simply print in thin air. That is why you need to print support material and not only for the head and tail, but for the body as well and when the 3D model is ready you can just remove the extra support material that you do not need.
The often observed problem with the use of support material however is that it may not always stick well to the print bed, so you may need to add Raft to fix this. Sometimes the support material could also be hard to remove from the 3D printed model, especially if your print bed is not properly leveled as normally you should be able to very easily remove the extra support material. One of the drawbacks that many of the 3D printing software solutions that come bundled with 3D printers is that they are designed to automatically generate support where they think it is required. So the user does not have control of where and how much support material to be used, but the good news is that there are alternative software packages that do provide extra functions such the ability for the user to add support material only where it is needed.
3D scanners are not that new as a technology, however with the increased interest in 3D printing in the last few years the interest in 3D scanners has also increased significantly, and that goes especially when talking about affordable 3D printers and 3D scanners. A 3D scanner should in theory allow you to scan a real world object into a 3D model that later on you will be able to print into a physical object again with the help of a 3D printer. This could be especially useful for people that are interested in 3D printing, however are not very keen on learning 3D modeling. You should however be very aware of the fact that 3D scanning, much like 3D printing, may be a bit overhyped and is not as easy as it may be represented by companies willing to sell you their products for 3D scanning. This is especially true when we are talking about more affordable 3D scanner solutions that are at a sub $1000 USD level, but can also be very true for models that going higher in terms of price at like $2000-$3000 USD that can still be considered as cheaper consumer oriented products. Nevertheless the concept of 3D scanning is something that we are also interested in with both its advantages and disadvantages at the consumer level of products as there are significantly better and more expensive professional models available, similar to such 3D printers, but our focus is on the more affordable solutions targeted at the normal users.
The first thing about 3D scanners that is often not getting enough attention is the quality you can expect to get when you scan a real world object. You should be prepared not to expect a great level of detail of the 3D model that you will get as a result from a 3D scan, while the general shape and some of the detail will mostly be preserved, the finer details will most likely be lost. Also be prepared to spend some more time initially getting to know what the best conditions for scanning are and how to properly use your 3D scanner for best results. 3D scanning usually takes some time and this can greatly vary from one 3D scanner to another, and then you may also need some additional time to work on the scanned 3D model as well. The software that stiches all of the data that gets acquired during the scanning process that should create a solid three-dimensional model is not perfect and very often you may need to fine tune the model for the best results. Do note that most consumer oriented 3D scanners also do allow very limited size of the scanned objects and if they offer more freedom and larger scale scanning often the results are not as good as with smaller objects. Still 3D scanners are a fun thing to play and experiment with, just do not get unrealistic expectations on what the resulting 3D scanned models will look like. You should also be prepared that when you 3D print a 3D scanned object in a single color the final result may be even less detailed than what the 3D model you got.
On the images above you can see the MakerBot Digitizer along with an original Gnome figure that was created in a 3D modeling software and then printed in 3D and painted to make it look really nice. Then the figure has been scanned with the MakerBot Digitizer and printed again on a 3D printer from the scanned 3D resulting model. While the end result still looks quite good, you can clearly see that most of the finer details are gone and there are some differences in the larger details that no longer seem as distinguishable as on the original 3D print of the Gnome. Of course adding color might help in making the two Gnomes seem lore alike, however this is a good example that should bring your expectations from 3D scanners to a more reasonable level.