Silhouette Alta 3d Printer Basics
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What is a 3d printer and why do I need one?
A 3d printer is a machine that allows you to create a physical product from a 3d digital model, it does so by creating thin layers of material layered on top of one another. The material used is called filament and it looks like a colored plastic piece of never ending spaghetti.
Now why would I need one? The possibilities are endless from creating gift tags, cupcake toppers, keychains, to even functional screws and gears.
What filament does the Alta use?
The Alta is limited to using PLA (polylactic acid) 1.75mm thick. PLA is a biodegradable plastic that is also BPA free. It comes in an array of colors black, white, red, yellow, green, blue, pink currently from the Silhouette store but they only sell 500-gram spools for $14.99. I currently purchase my material from Amazon in a much larger range of colors such as grey, different hues of pinks, blues, and greens. Also, on Amazon I am getting 1kg spools (twice the size of Silhouette) for around $20 to $25 depending on colors and brands. I have added products that I frequently use on my Amazon influencer page: https://www.amazon.com/shop/silhouetteforeveryone
How large can the Alta print?
The Alta will be good for small projects for your crafting needs. It only prints roughly 5” a round by 5” tall. Exact dimensions are 130mm round by 130mm tall. Everything in the 3d printing world rotates around mm and not inches. It can print as fast as 80 mm per second. Layer height is a minimum of .05mm to .5mm per layer.
Are you like me and only used to working in inches?
No problem I keep a link to a converter handy. This is the one I use the most: https://www.rapidtables.com/convert/length/inch-to-mm.html
What file types can I use?
File types you can use to 3d print from include .STL, .OBJ, and .S3D (which will be Alta’s own file format like .studio is to Silhouette Studio software) You can also use SOME .studio files as well as your fonts that are installed on your computer. Now you must be asking why the SOME word? Not everything is going to translate out to 3d correctly. Fonts were built with printing in mind and now we are using them in vinyl, and now even in 3d form. 3d printing is a very new world for general users so there will always be trial and error in using this process. Having patients is a necessary!
Where can I get the software and is there a fee?
Currently the software is free, no paid upgrades like the Silhouette Studio software. You can download the software here under the Silhouette 3D tab: https://www.silhouetteamerica.com/software
Where can I get files if I don’t want to create my own?
Silhouette will be offering files to purchase thru the store and there are also many free .STL files available for printing. I will list some of my most used sites for you to view:
These are the sites I look to first before jumping off into creating from scratch. As always remember that all images are subject to copyrights. You will find things like Groot that is a popular print. However, things like that are not going to legally be able to be sold. Please refer to https://www.copyright.gov to understanding what you can do with your finished prints.
Is there other software that I can use to design in?
Cura is a free software many in the industry use. This software will also help turn .SVG files into .STL files for printing. I use this software for my Creality printer. It will tell me how long the print will take and how much material I spent in creating it (both in size amount and I can tell it what I spent for the spool of material and it will calculate the cost of the product) Great resource for those that want to create their own products.
Tinkercad is another great resource for learning how to create 3d products for your printing. Schools/Teachers use this as a source to teach their classes and allow their students to learn how to create and print in 3d. It is also free.
Fusion360 is what I consider the top of the line software for creating in. With that said I do warn you if you do not have high specs and graphic card for your computer it is likely you will be unable to use this software. This software is very in depth and is a huge resource hog. So only use this IF you have a computer able to handle these stressful conditions.
Here is a spool of filament and a couple of prints I have previously done on a Creality CR-10-s!
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