For newbies and experienced designers alike, meet your new best friend: The 3D Printing Handbook from 3D Hubs. Read our detailed review.
Are you new to the 3D printing world and unsure of what 3D printing entails? Are you a veteran and just needing specific design details for your latest project? Regardless, The 3D Printing Handbook from 3D Hubs is for you. It’s well balanced for all levels of skill, whether you want to read it front to back or flip directly to the page you need.
This handbook is perhaps the most comprehensive 3D printing manual on the market today. It’s a meticulously curated outlay of 3D printing technologies, terminologies, processes, and players. From initial definitions to pointed design specifications, this tome expands across the entire field of 3D printing.
3D Hubs is an additive manufacturing service provider based out of Amsterdam. They assist in connecting users wanting to 3D print something to those with 3D printers. In addition to this, they offer a Knowledge Base on their website in the form of “Chapters” that cover various 3D printing aspects.
To expand this valuable resource, 3D Hubs compiled them together and solicited contributions from companies around the world, and created the most comprehensive book currently available on additive manufacturing: The 3D Printing Handbook.
As Tony Fadell says in the Foreword:
“‘The Handbook’ will help to guide you on your own path as you look to leverage 3D printing and its potential to create your own breakthrough products, that hopefully will change the world.”
And in our opinion, it does exactly that.
You can tell some thought was put into the design of the The 3D Printing Handbook. The layout is targeted for engineers and techies, which means no wasted time trying to find what you need. It’s configured to be able to flip right to what you’re looking for, even giving key words in the margins to avoid having to scan the full text. Genius!
The 3D Printing Handbook is not only orientated to answer the how, as one would expect from a manual, but also the who, what, when, where and why. It does this with decision trees, real-life examples in industry, current brands and companies, clear images throughout the printing stages, simplified sketches, and more.
Furthermore, there is a nice balance of visual aids, mixing images of different stages of the 3D printing process and simplified sketches that show the basic mechanism.
The use of simplified sketches to show the basic mechanism is nicely balanced with real-life applications. It’s so important to have bona fide examples when working with a technology like this, because something in the design phase can be drastically different when transferred into a practical utilization. 3D Hubs addresses this disconnect by showing the limitations of the various technologies and tells you right off the bat which 3D printing technology is best for which application.
A highlight of this manual is that it takes a broad perspective in addition to the direct operation, answering any and all related questions that could arise. By doing so, it allows you to fully understand the process and technology. This complete understanding is crucial to be able to manipulate the technology’s capabilities and look beyond the traditional applications.
The 3D Printing Handbook is broken down into three chapters:
The book starts with a basic introduction, and then moves deeper and gets more specific as it goes, toting the same examples along.
Part 1 starts out with the basics, perfect for someone who has little to no experience or even experts who may want to read the justifications for things they’ve learned hands-on. It gives an overview of the six main 3D printing techniques and how and when they should be executed.
Part 2 gets more into the nitty-gritty. It details general rules that should be followed, as well as offers specific design recommendations. It also talks about failures. One of the most frustrating things is when at hour 15+ into a print, you discover an error and have to start all over again. By perusing the details they spell out, you can better design and properly support or orientate to avoid the agonizing realization of having to start all over.
Part 3 is chocked full of inspiration with application examples from several different industries – from an anatomically correct newborn manikin (organs and all) for medical training to 3D printing the body of a motorcycle. It goes in depth of how you can utilize different types of 3D printing, and what makes sense when.
These chapters are quite nice, starting by laying down a strong knowledge base, and building form there. Ending with an awe factor that gets the creative juices flowing. The perfect recipe for a 3D printing addiction.
One feature The 3D Printing Handbook includes is extra pages in the back of the book to scribble your own notes and specifications you find as you gain experience with your own 3D printer. That way, everything really is in one place! No need to search through scribbled on scraps of paper, hunting for the right one, hoping you didn’t misplace it. All your notes can now be securely bound.
In addition to this, at the end of each topic there is a summary table that displays the respective highlights. This is perfect for getting the main details and needs-to-know in one snapshot, eliminating the need to read the whole section. Then, upon figuring out which technology/option/specification fits your needs, you can go back and read more in depth about that specific one.
This is coupled nicely by the connection trees that are also littered throughout the book. Mostly are educational, placed at the front of a section to visually show the section’s content and how it’s all connected. But The 3D Printing Handbook also offers a decision tree at the end of Part 1 to help you figure out which technology is most suitable for you. It is a great way to see what the different technologies have in common and how they differ.
While we reckon The 3D Printing Handbook is the most comprehensive on the market, there are others that still deserve a mention.
MAKE magazine also has a book publishing imprint, and came out with Make: 3D Printing as an introductory guide to the topic.
Elsewhere, 3D Printing for Dummies is now in its second edition. It’s co-authored by Richard Horne, otherwise known to the 3D printing community as RichRap.
We at All3DP are in love with The 3D Printing Handbook from 3D Hubs. It wonderfully combines the excitement of new technology and possibilities with a sense of reality and groundedness. It gives examples of the larger scale of exciting possibilities, while at the same time explains the limit and the feasabilities of 3D printing on the home scale.
This tome is a must-have for every 3D printing workshop.