The 3D printing community is one of your biggest assets as a budding or seasoned 3D printer. This is a network of fellow 3D printer owners, professionals, and experts who grow each other by sharing experiences, tips, and tricks.
Spread across various online platforms and social networks, here are the best 3D printing communities that are oddly satisfying today. Plus we provide useful articles and tips for 3D printer beginners.
1. Brand-specific Forums
3D printing communities are all about solving problems and making life easier. I bet no one else does this better than the individuals who own a printer similar to yours. Whether you’re looking for an honest opinion regarding a particular 3D printer, or don’t know how to configure your new machine, forums that are dedicated to your specific model will often offer the most solid advice.
The threads in these forums cover problems and issues that other users have faced when using that particular 3D printer plus their corresponding solutions. Also, most of these forums are often patronized by the 3D printer’s support team, making them a good place to get instant help. To arrive at your 3D printer’s brand-specific forum, type your machine’s name plus forum and click search, e.g. Snapmaker 2.0 Forum.
Unless you’re green in the maker community, I bet you’ve interacted with Thingiverse or heard of it, at the very least. Thingiverse was originally started in 2008 by Makerbot as a free online platform where makers can interact and share ideas.
To keep the conversations organized on the site, Makerbot categorizes its members into different ‘groups’. You’ll find a group for engineers, tabletop gamers, quadcopter enthusiasts, and those who want tips on how to ‘HackThePandemic.’ You’ll also find 3D printer brand-specific groups, such as Creality Ender 3, Prusa i3, and Anet A8 Prusa i3. There is an option to create a new group around a specific topic too.
Besides bringing the 3D printing community together, Thingiverse also offers creators a way of sharing files (commonly known as ‘Thing’). Over the years, Thingiverse has accumulated over 2 million printable files, from spare parts to gadgets and figurines. Most of these ‘things’ are free to download and print and can also be modified and even sold provided you respect any applicable licenses.
Visit Thingiverse here.
Shapeways is a reputable 3D printing service provider that produces prototypes for medical, consumer, architecture, aerospace, and drones industries, among others. This New York City-based company is regarded for its world-class quality products, innovation, and digitization.
In addition to additive manufacturing, Shapeways also uses other methods, including Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Stereolithography (SLA), and Material and Binder Jetting, to offer solutions for all needs.
On its main website, Shapeways has a community forum where it allows general discussions besides offering advice on various interests. Thanks to its reputation in the marketplace today, Shapeways’ community tends to attract some of the most creative designers and innovators. Hence, this is a great place to be if you’re looking for unique creations for your future projects.
Visit Shapeways community forum here.
Quora is among the highest-ranked platforms by Google for one simple reason: it provides the answers to pretty much anything. This question-answer platform is designed so that the mechanisms and users promote really useful content. That’s why it’s a top online destination for most 3D print enthusiasts and professionals.
When looking for answers on Quora, type your question on the search bar at the top. The chances are that someone else has already asked that exact question before, and the answers are available. If you can’t find answers to the version of your question, you can ask by clicking the ‘Add Question” button at the top of the page (if you’re on the web). If you’re using the Quora App on your phone, tap the “Add link” button in the top-right.
Here are some of the most followed 3D printing-related topics on Quora today;
5. 3D Hubs Talk
3D Hubs is another printing vendor like Shapeways and a possible alternative for that matter. This company currently has its headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands. When it was initially formed in 2013, 3D Hubs was a network of 3D print suppliers (Hubs) and customers. If you were looking to have a part printed, you’d send the file to 3D Hubs, and the admins would assign that task to a maker near you.
This arrangement changed in late 2018 when 3D Hubs decided to switch from “locally printed 3D parts” to a closed-style manufacturing program to enhance reliability and consistent manufacturing services to its growing market. However, 3D Hubs still has a Talk Maker forum where you can connect with local makers to have your 3D models printed.
The 3D Hubs Talk page is divided into several categories covering various topics, including 3D Printing, CNC Machining, Injection Molding, and CAD. There’s also a “For sale” section where you can advertise your 3D products, used 3D printer, or usable 3D printer spare parts.
Connect with the 3D community at 3D Hubs here.
Facebook boasts over 4 billion video views daily. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to see why this is a favorite place for most enthusiasts to geek about 3D printing. Here is a list of my best 3D printing pages on Facebook with their links and number of members as of May 2021.
- 3D Printing– 97.4k members
- 3D Printing Club– 36.7k members
- 3D Printer Builders– 26.1k members
- 3D Scanning and Printing– 5.1k members
- 3D Printer Chat– 4.3k members
- Open Source 3D Printing– 647 members
- RepRap– 8.9k members
Besides these general pages, you’ll also find brand-specific 3D printing Facebook pages. This is a great place to connect, share ideas, and get help from other 3D print makers who own a particular printer.
Here are a few brand-specific 3D printing community pages on Facebook;
While Facebook is the most popular, Instagram also offers another great place to get inspirations and tips for your next projects. This platform has tens of designers and 3D print artists who regularly share their passion for creating things with their followers.
Here are some of the best 3D printing Instagram accounts that continue to inspire the 3D printing community;
- Miniworld3D (38.9k followers) – a must follow if you want to learn how to 3D print landmarks.
- Printbrothers3D– 38.1k followers
- Joeltelling– 28.6k followers
- Budenindustries– 13.4k followers
- Guaro3D– 2368 followers
- 3dbrooklyn (22.8k followers) – ideal if you’re into CAD modelling and creating prototypes.
Gambody is worth your attention if you’re looking to join a marketplace where you can buy and sell 3D print STL files. This platform does not include a forum where the members can interact and ask or answer questions. But it’s one of the fastest-growing sites where users list their video game and comic book models, robots, and spaceships for sale. Besides making money by selling your 3D prints, you can also register for Gambody’s affiliate program. You earn 20% of the price of any item sold on the marketplace, thanks to your recommendation.
Visit Gambody here.
9. 3DPrint and 3D PrintWise
The 3D printing space is evolving rapidly. Credit to key factors, such as aggressive R&D and the availability of affordable 3D printers, this industry is projected to grow by up to 26% between 2022 and 2024. Also, this technology is expected to impact over 35 industries ranging from architecture and construction to pharmaceutical drugs, food, and even furniture.
Suffice to say, 3D printing is a key component of the future. This makes it vital for anyone who wants to grow in the 3D printing marketplace to stay informed and updated with the latest news and developments in this field. 3DPrintwise and 3DPrint.com are among the most resourceful sites for that. They are not 3D printing community forums per se, but they will keep you abreast of the emerging issues, technological advancements, and patterns in this world.
What Did I Miss?
There are hundreds of active 3D printing and 3D scanning community groups, forums, platforms, and marketplaces today. I must agree that this list didn’t exhaust all of them. However, I aimed at highlighting some of the most resourceful sites where you’re likely to get quick solutions. I’m open to expanding this list, though. Comment below if you feel that there’s a 3D printing community forum, club, or group that should have been included here.