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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USFSP chapter.

Like many people, I was mesmerized by the magic of 3D printing. It gives people the ability to print anything and it’s only getting bigger.  

3D printing is the process of a machine using heated plastic to layer itself and it can print a variety of items. Currently, 3D printing is one of the newest breakthroughs in technology. 3D printing has become very versatile from creating tiny figures to skyscrapers. 

NPR journalist, Emma Bowman, reports that the first 3D-printed two-story home was made in Houston, Texas this year by using a gigantic 3D printer. The ability to utilize 3D printing in construction is only the tip of the iceberg for this type of technology’s capabilities. 3D printers can create multiple different shapes, lengths, and textures depending on the intricacy of the 3D model and program. However, not everyone is going to be able to print skyscrapers their first time.  

In the hobby space, people print 3D replicas of the Millenium Falcon, Hogwarts castle, and many other small art pieces. Some people make small figurines, doorstoppers, and hair clips to experiment with the different ways of how to use a 3D printer. Earrings, mugs, and other creative objects can be printed with ease. It is a much more approachable craft with still amazing boundless creativity.  

I recently got into the hobby of 3D printing, and I am fascinated with all of the things that I can create. I am engulfed in my new 3D printing obsession, and I am going to tell you how to get started. In order to start 3D printing as a hobby, a person needs the right equipment and time.  


3D printers range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Some quality 3D printers according to The New York Times: Wire Cutter are the Prusa Mini+, Monoprice MP Cadet, and Artillery Sidewinder X2. I personally use the Flashforge Creator Pro stationed in the USFSP library. Some universities have 3D printers free to the student body, however, that is not always the case. These different types of printers are necessary in order to build creations from the 3D models sent to the printer and they typically range from $20-$30 for one roll of filament (333 meters or 1,092.5 ft).  

PLA filament is a rigid plastic filament. This filament is perfect for rigid figures, jewelry, or decorations. TPU filament is more plastic flexible than PLA. It is used for squish toys, shoes, and other clothes. According to employees of the Institute of Materials Science and Engineering, Lodz University, the strongest bond is TPU for durability and it is predictable for printing, but tends to be more expensive. However, PLA is better with adhesion to TPU compared to vice versa and results in an unstable base. There are advantages to printing with both or using them separately. 

3D models are also a necessity. They act like a blueprint for an item. People can choose either to use pre-generated 3D models or models of their own to create in 3D printing. There are many free 3D models available online for beginners to try to print new creations that are not comfortable with making their own 3D models.  


3D printing takes time to learn. 3D printers have different functions when printing textures, shapes, etc. Hobbyists need to learn to load and unload filament, model, and upkeep their machines. Time is a necessity in helping your models and prints flourish. The 3D printing process itself takes a lot of time. Depending on the intricacy and the size of the model, it can range from 3 minutes to hours of printing. For example, my first model of a heart-shaped spoon was printed in 1 hour and 45 minutes. However, my most recent project took 5 hours to fully print without assembly.  

Heart Spoon I made
Original photo by Chloe Duncan
Lithophane I made for my brother\'s birthday with lights.
Original photo by Chloe Duncan

As a novice, I suggest trying to print something simple and small as a first 3D print. It helps people feel more comfortable with the measurements in 3D printing. Many 3D printers print in millimeters, which means everyone has to Google how many millimeters are in an inch. It also helps you feel comfortable with the sense of scale in how to make measurements exact and how to estimate sizes of holes. I learned this while I was printing the Lucky Charms earrings I made.   

A creamer holding my original earrings I made using 3D modeling and 3D printing.
Original photo by Chloe Duncan

I hope you are excited just as I am about this craft. If not, at least more knowledgeable about 3D printer equipment. 3D printing is an amazing process to build small crafts and apply to architecture. There are so many applications to this technology. The only limit to 3D printing is your imagination.  

Chloe Duncan is a writer and undergraduate at University of South Florida at St. Petersburg. She is passionate about service work and artistic media. She is an artistic dork who probably should go outside more in sunny Florida. In the meantime, she will continue to write about non-profits and some unique artistic experiences.