So, you want to 3D print your own cookie cutters. Wonderful!
(If you haven’t already, head over to our previous post to get familiar with some 3D printing basics.)
There is no better time to get into 3D printing and because most cookie cutters are relatively straightforward shapes, you can honestly ignore most 3D printing information out there.
My goal with this guide is to give you a clear understanding of what would be involved, and then nudge you toward getting a printer of your own.
Before we get started, I want to be clear about a few things:
1. This guide is specifically about 3D printing cookie cutters. Not Star Wars helmets. Not intricate game characters models. Not lamp shades for pendant lights. Not life size busts of Betty White (RIP). Cookie cutters. Some of what I cover will be useful for general 3D printing, but there are entire books written on printing the other stuff, so I won’t cover all that. If you need more extensive help, I highly encourage you to use this website, which has been a great in my journey.
2. We will focus on the most common style of printer (FDM) and most common material (PLA). There are a ton of options for printer styles and numerous materials (all kinds of plastics, metals, rubber, carbon fiber, even wood!). Those are all great but are seriously overkill for cookie cutters.
3. This is not a definitive guide to 3D printing. Like most technology these days, things are advancing quickly, and new techniques pop up almost daily. I’ll try to keep everything general enough to withstand the test of time (i.e. be relevant next month) but don’t take everything here as gospel.
And with that, here we go!
If you want to print your own cookie cutters, here’s what you need:
- A 3D printer (FDM style)
- A spool of filament (PLA)
- A 3D model of a cookie cutter (usually a file with a .STL extension)
- A computer of some sort with an SD card and/or USB slot.
Looking for specifics? Read on.
Step 1: Get a 3D printer
For printing cookie cutters, this means spending between $150-$400, depending on which printer you get. My hands down favorite for getting started is the Prusa Mini, because it comes with so many features to make life easier and has stellar support from a great company. There are various other printers that may fit a smaller budget such as the Ender 3 Pro, Toybox, or Monoprice MP10, but in my opinion the Prusa Mini is more than worth the extra money.
Step 2: Get some PLA
There are plenty of great PLA manufacturers, including Prusa, and a few I’d check out would be Protopasta, Hatchbox, and Atomic Filament. You can also order off of Amazon, but as you’re getting started, it’s nice to have a solid company who offers support, just in case you have issues with the filament and can’t figure out what’s going wrong. Once you have a handle on things and a bit of experience, you can go wild on super unique filaments.
Step 3: Get a 3D model of a cookie cutter
Oh boy, here is where things get super easy. Head on over to the shop and pick out any of their designs to download. And let’s be real. You might as well just sign up for the Sweetleigh Subscription while you’re there. That will get you access to the entire library. So, yeah. Do that. (Disclaimer: Yes, there are other 3d models of cookie cutters out there, and yes some of them are cute as well. I mean, we’re not the only ones who make cute stuff.)
Step 4: Load your 3D cookie cutter file onto your printer
For your 3D printer to understand how to print the cookie cutter, you need to install a slicer on your computer. A slicer is a program that take a 3D model, figures out how the printer should print the model with your PLA, and saves those instructions to a file called a .gcode. All you have to do is save that .gcode file onto a SD card or USB drive, plug that into your 3D printer, and press print. Each printer will have their own specific slicer they recommend, and if you get a Prusa Mini, you should use PrusaSlicer. If using another printer, Cura is a great choice as well.
Step 5: Bask in the magical glory of your first successful print! And do a happy dance.
As I said at the top, this guide is not an all-encompassing guide to 3D printing, but hopefully it has demystified the process a bit. If you want to print your own cookie cutters, I highly recommend taking the plunge and getting your own printer so you too can experience the magic of new technology! [queue 80’s synth-techno music]