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Basics of 3D Printing for Cookie Cutters Part 1 – The Journey Begins

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is magic. 

It is Star Trek replicator level magic.  Take Harry Potter, mix it with Gandolf, add some Dr Strange and bake at 350 for an hour, and you get 3D printing.

It's literally making something out of nothing.  (Ok, not literally, but you get the idea.)

If we want to be a bit more specific, 3D printing is the process of taking a digital 3D model and creating a physical version out of some material. 

So, yeah. Magic.

There are a bunch of ways to do this, and each method of 3D printing has its specific purposes, but the most common method is through FDM, or Fused Deposition Modeling.  (Don’t try to memorize that, I had to look it up and I’ve been printing for years.)

I know you’re thinking, “Acronyms, noooo!” 

Trust me, you’ve got this.

FDM means taking some material, melting it into liquid, and tracing over a shape a bunch of times until, layer by layer, it hardens into 3D shape.  That’s it.  Tadaaaa!

Put another way, it’s like decorating a cookie. 

If you’ve ever used a piping bag to decorate a cookie, you’ve done FDM.  Go you!

When decorating, you pipe on the first layer, let it set, then pipe on a second layer in specific spots right?  You may add a 3rd or 4th layer perhaps, and each one is making the cookie thicker at those spots, adding depth and dimension.  That’s literally FDM.  (Again, I’m kind of being loose with the word “literally.”) The only real difference is if you decorated a cookie with the same number of layers as a typical 3D model, you’d have a cookie too tall to eat!

Obviously 3D printing in editable material is impossible. (j/k, it’s totally possible.) So what non-edible material do we use to print cookie cutters?

I’m glad you asked.

For cookie cutters, you should print in PLA.

(Here’s where I’m going to get someone pointing out why another material is better. But its ok, I can take em.)

What is PLA?

PLA stands for polylactic acid, which is a thermoplastic polyester.  (Again, no need to memorize that.) This is essentially a plastic filament that is easy to make from renewal materials and is the most common 3D printing material out there. 

While there are various filaments that are more durable, more heat resistant, or more flexible, nothing beats PLA in terms of ease of use and availability.  It comes in a variety of colors and styles, so search around, find a color you like, and order away.

So, what did we learn?

1. Magic is great!

2. Acronym definitions are overrated.

3. 3D printing cookie cutters is in your future.

Assuming I didn’t just confuse you more, I can hear you asking, “Yes, but what do I do to actually print my own cookie cutters?”

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