If you’re reading this you either know what EDC (Every Day Carry) is or you don’t and if you don’t chances are you have an EDC and don’t even know it. It is by habit of life, and possibly corporate and government sabotage, that we have to carry several specific things on us at all times, everyday. Now for 3D Printing it is a little different.. The “3DC” is your 3D Printing Every Day Carry. Even the tribes in Madagascar don’t leave the village without certain things in their….. umm…. satchels(?)…. In survival terms EDC normally consists of somethings that aren’t listed here, but I’ll link to some prepper EDC examples later on just in case you’re interested.
Many of us are familiar with our normal EDC loadout, but it seems you’re on a pretty specific site, with some really specific information… and I’m going to give some to you right now by listing my 3D Printing Every Day Carry (EDC) the 3DC.
First I’ll give a little background on what an Every Day Carry is, just in case you might not be familiar with this acronym as I understand this site may bring people from very different sides of the spectrum of life, culture, political views and in general different parts of the world. That is the point of this project, to bridge the knowledge gap between open source / 3d printing and self-sufficiency / preparedness. If I can help someone understand just one thing better after they leave this page and inspire them to get involved with open source technologies OR on the opposite end, help them with ideas on how they can be better prepared for unforeseen life changes then I consider it a success. So enough of this.. on to the show!
Rubbing alcohol has many uses, but in this case I use it mostly for cleaning the printing surface. If you haven’t printed something in a while then your printing surface has surely collected dust and of course we all forget to clean up after ourselves after a successful printing session and leave a mess of PLA leftover on the printer. A quick scrape over with a razor and few wipes with a paper-towel with some rubbing alcohol applied to it will get your printing surface ready to go again.
Set of Exacto Knives
Obviously we all know how useful exacto knives are, and for me they are excellent for using in post-processing your 3D prints. PLA especially cleans up real well when using an exacto knife to get the strings off or clean out some areas that may be a little rough, and of course to clean up any holes that may have some excess filament hanging around. Keep exacto knives in mind when wanting to not dissasemble your extruder block to clean your hobbed bolt. Swipe that tip in there while rotating the gear and your hobbed bolt will be spic and span in no time.
Razor Blades are only good for shaving and shanking people with. Razor blades are essential when you want to properly clean your printing surface. Most of the time your print should pop off your printing surface once completely cooled, but in some cases the brim may stick or just some left over pla will have dripped off your hotend and stuck to the bed and a razor will make quick work of scraping that off. I also find a nearby razor helps a lot if you need to quickly chop off some initial strings of filament on that first layer.
Those teeny-tiny screw drivers at the 99¢ store are also a great tool to help in post processing while cleaning up a print. The tiny-ness of them allows you to get into small holes that printed to straightened them out. They are probably the biggest help when trying to un-jam a clogged hotend and for cleaning your hobbed bolt with their thin edge and long reach.
Of course you’ll need to know what size you’ll need for your printer, but you will also be grabbing these often during a hotend jam, to clean your hobbed bolt and just general tightening of screws that may have come a little loose.. including tightening those belts. I only carry around two in my 3DC and you shouldn’t need much more than that… You can normally just use your fingers to tighten with.
Mini Needle-Nose Pliers
Needle nose pliers make dealing with filament super easy when you have to feed it into tiny holes to lock it up or feed to your extruder, and make fun when cleaning up the mess you’ve made during post processing a print. Also handy to tighten up some loose screws on the printer or reach in tight areas for cleaning.
Mini Wire Cutters
Trust me when I say that you will probably be using these the most out of all these tools listed in your 3DC because of all the filament you’ll be snipping. When reloading your extruder they are essential and basically any time you’re dealing with filament you will be having a pair of these in your hands. PRO TIP: When changing filament, cut the end you’ll fee into your extruder at an angle so that there is a sharp point on the end going in so that it has a smaller diameter tip to feed into the hotend.. You can thank me later…
Sometimes you’ll have a 3D model you want to print that has multiple pieces to assemlble. If you’re not using the right type of material for the print, assembling those pieces together might be a little difficult without a mini torch. For example, just running the flame over a male part of a joint for a socket it will soften up the plastic enough to be able to snap it right in without distorting the print too much.
Mini SD Card with Adapter
Most of us use Mini SD Cards to work off of when printing .stl files. You can transfer your file over to the printer from your computer with the standard USB cable, but it is normally extremely slow.. and that sucks. Slice your model, transfer it to the SD card and plop it back into your 3D printer and just GO. I learned this the hard, and embarrassing way, in the early days when showing kids at a local school about RepRap. I just didn’t have enough knowledge yet and thought that transferring to the printer through the USB cable via the software was fast enough.. but it wasn’t. Sometimes even waiting over 30 minutes for a small Batwing to be transferred over to the printer. Let’s just all agree to use Cura to slice our .stl files, quickly save it to the SD card and pop it into the printer and print, OK?
USB Memory Card Reader
Never know when you’ll be out and about and need this anyway but many people don’t carry this with them.. so you should! Make sure it reads multiple types of memory cards. Most importantly the type of memory card that your 3D Printer uses.
USB Flash Drive
A USB flash drive is probably the most common item on this list that “other” people will have on them in their every day carry and you’ll find yourself reaching for it more often once you have your 3D printer up and running. Somebody has some design they made on their laptop, there is no wifi or internet around to email you the file, the file is over 20mb anyway.. blah blah.. just keep this with you so you can make it easier on yourself and for everybody else.
Honestly you won’t use these that much. Mostly when you need to smooth out a model for painting or when you’ve actually designed something wrong and you need to make corrections to the piece to check it and then re-design it to be printed again.
Checking your filament is a big deal and you’ll need calipers for that. I find myself using these the most when I’m doing protoyping on a product or when designing things that need to be super accurate. That is one of the coolest part about low-cost 3D printing.. if you screw something up.. just take some new measurements and print it again, right there and then! Keep in mind that non of this would be possible without the RepRap Project… They have brought “self-manufacturing” to us all, and we (and everyone on the planet) should be forever grateful. Thank you RepRap!!!
Screwdriver Bits with Adapter
I carry only two sizes because that’s what my open source 3D printer (Mendel90) basically uses two sizes. They are for cap screws, and a lot of the open source designs are made with these screws in mind as they look really cool and are really practical. They are very hard to strip I’ve found and you don’t have to worry about your screwdriver slipping all over the place when trying to tighten or loosen something.
Just got this for free when I bought some hair clippers. Works well on the threaded rods and even all the bearings I’ve ever used. The stuff I use isn’t that high-quality but you can buy some nice stuff for cheap on Amazon or at Home Depot I’m sure, add this to your 3DC Every Day Carry.
Small Drill Bits
At least have a 3mm, 4mm, 2mm with you at all times, and I also keep some smaller ones for part cleaning into tiny holes.
EVERYONE who uses OctoPrint deserves to have an OctoPrint sticker but unfortunately I don’t think Gina can get these to everybody. I’ll see if I can offer them here one day though. I give them out to people who I know use OctoPrint and are awesome. You might not be familiar with OctoPrint so get familiar with it. It is an amazing piece open source software written by Gina Haüßage that allows you to use your 3D printer from anywhere, without wires! You can even monitor your prints if you hook up a camera so you can sit on the couch reading this blog while also making sure your prints are running smoothly. Check out the video above for a quick look at how it works.
If your printbed/glass printing surface isn’t icky-sticky then sometimes you can just use a microfiber cloth and wipe it down. I recommend if you haven’t printed in a while to use alcohol with a paper towel but if you’re in between prints, just take the cloth and wipe it down a couple times before you start your next print just to be safe.
What’s in your 3DC?
If you use something specific in your 3DC let me know what you find most useful. If you’ve got something you think should be included in my 3DC that isn’t listed let me know what works best for you. In the spirit of open source.. just share it!
I hope you enjoyed this post about my 3DC is about and what my 3D Printing Every Day Carry consists of… It does change often, and I’ll keep you updated from time to time on what comes out and goes into of it. If you do have one, I’m serious in saying I’d like to know what you’ve got in there.. Let me know via social media or right down below in the comments, right now!
Also, if you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to the mailing list because I’ll be doing something special for subscribers VERY soon that I am really excited about… ok, here’s a hint: In Piglatin I think its called Wiveagay!!! 😉 See you on the inside.
Thanks for reading!