3D printing can produce items that are functional or merely aesthetic. Very often 3D prints are both functional and aesthetic.
A functional use could be using acrylic to print something like an LCD display or a visor for a helmet. An aesthetic use would be printing a figurine out of glow-in-the-dark filament. A functional and aesthetic print would be making a phone case out of color-changing or metal filament.
Not that you would ever print a phone case out of metal as that would be a very heavy phone case! You would also have a tough time getting your phone in and out of the case without damaging it. Metal phone cases are thus not the best idea for a 3D printing project.
A 3D-printed logo can be a great marketing tool for a business. In this guide, we share the materials, software, and steps you should take to go from a concept to a finished 3D-printed logo.
What Are The Steps Required To 3D Print A Design?
3D printing a logo takes a two-dimensional design and produces a tangible three-dimensional render. There are five main steps involved in producing a 3D-printed logo. These are the design, modeling, slicing, printing, and post-processing.
There are several 3D printing technologies that can be used including fused deposition modeling, stereolithography, or selective laser sintering. In this guide, we’ll focus on FDM as FDM printing is generally easier although the other techniques follow roughly the same steps.
If you do not already have a logo you may need to first design one. There is software you can use to create a two-dimensional logo. The most common are:
- Adobe Illustrator (Paid)
- Adobe Photoshop (Paid)
- CorelDraw (Paid)
- GIMP (Free)
- Figma (Free)
Once you have designed your logo, you need to clean it. You want it to be as simple as possible for printing. A higher-resolution image will ensure the details in your design do not get lost.
There are a number of things you might need to do to clean your image but the goal is to make it clearer for printing. You want to remove things like shadows, gradients, or highlights that might not transfer well in printing.
Modeling turns your 2D image into a 3D model. As with designing, there are different software you can use for modeling. Microsoft 3D Builder is the simplest. Using 3D Builder:
- Open a new file and create a background for your logo.
- Import your logo into the simple container you created for it.
- Make adjustments as needed. 3D builder allows you to adjust the contour, height map, edge, and stamp of the logo.
- Export the model as an STL file.
Saving your model as an STL file prepares it for the next stage in the process which is slicing.
Before you can start printing your 3D model, you need to slice it. Slicing software takes the information in a 3D model and turns that into instructions a 3D printer can read and print. FDM printers create 3D prints by stacking 2D layers. You need software to slice the model into those 2D layers. Source
Slicing software also lays out the parameters your 3D printer will use when printing. These parameters include layer height, temperature, infill density, and shell thickness. Some of the most popular slicing software include
|Cura||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|PrusaSlicer||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|IdeaMaker||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|OctoPrint||Web, Windows, Mac, Linux, Raspberry Pi|
|Lychee Slicer||Windows, Mac, Linux|
Once you have sliced your model, it is ready to print.
Using the parameters set out in your slicer, you can start printing. Temperature is an important parameter in FDM printing. You need to make sure to use the correct extruder and print bed temperature for the material you work with.
PLA is the first option for most 3D prints because it is by far the easiest material to print with. PLA prints at between 180 to 230°C with a print bed temperature of between 20 to 60°C. PLA is more suited for indoor prints as it has relatively poor heat and UV resistance. If your logo is intended for indoor use, then PLA is a great option. Source
ABS is a great alternative to PLA because it is a stronger, more durable material. Its only downside is it is harder to print than PLA. ABS prints at between 190 and 250°C with a print bed temperature of between 90 to 100°C. Like PLA, ABS is more suited for printing a logo meant for indoor use. ABS tends to warp and discolor when used outdoors.
PETG is stronger than ABS while also being easy to print. PETG prints at between 190 and 250°C with a print bed temperature of between 70 to 80°C. Unlike PLA and ABS, PETG performs better for outdoor use. It will not easily deform or lose its original color as either PLA or ABS.
If your logo will be mounted or displayed outside PETG can work, but not nearly as well as ASA. This is the best material for outdoor prints since it is the most UV and heat-resistant. It lasts the longest in outside conditions retaining its original shape and color for the longest.
ASA prints at between 190 and 250°C with a print bed temperature of between 80 to 100°C
Post-processing a 3D print can be the most exciting and the most labor-intensive stage. Post-processing is where you can improve the finish of your logo. Typically, there are at least two things you need to do at this stage. These are smoothing and coating.
One of the biggest flaws of 3D printing is that it produces items with a rough finish. 3D prints will come out with visible layer lines where each layer stacks on the other. Smoothing removes those layer lines and attempts to hide any other surface flaws on your logo. The two most commonly used smoothing techniques are sandpapering and using a solvent.
Coating is not strictly necessary but painting your logo can improve its appearance and protect it from the elements if you plan on mounting it outside. The simplest way to do this is by painting using either aerosols or acrylic paint.
Also, check out our post “How To Change Filament Colour Mid Print? Should You Do It!“