5 Rules for 3D-Printing a Community

Last October, I was printing some parts for our DIY hardware meetup in San Francisco. At the same time, I was developing policies to ensure that Hackster remains a friendly, positive place to learn electronics as it grows.

These overlapped more than expected, and I came out with five tips that will help you with both. Read on!

1. Support structures are just as important as the work itself.
Sure, you can enjoy the perfection of a printed piece without ever knowing what its original support material looked like. But without that support, cantilevers would sag, and the final structure would be less sound. And even the invisible inside has to be designed with enough infill to stand up.

We designed our comments prompt to encourage positive discourse, because it’s not just your point that counts; it’s how you make it. Then, we added a Code of Conduct so that you can orient yourself on our idea of a fun community.

Side note: While young makers are welcome, not all content will be palatable for children, and that’s okay. However, hate speech and harassment are out: we would rather lose a member than allow them to drive away others.

2. Respect others’ preferences.
Some printers, like our little Bukito, can be swung around by the handle and still produce excellent prints. Others need a solid surface, but have a heated bed and can produce much larger prints. Some are fed with UV-cured resin, some with 3mm filament, some with carbon fiber.

Likewise, everyone’s circumstances and strong points are different—especially with DIY projects. If not for that, we wouldn’t have a website.
So, be curious. Ask about someone’s choices before criticizing them.

3. A chilly environment produces a brittle part and wasted filament.
Ever tried to run your printer under the swivel fan? You know that too much ventilation means poor adhesion.

Without a positive community, we’re just a bunch of individuals.
If someone has a bad experience, they may well go away and not come back.

Sure, life is always going to include some negative experiences, and waste is a natural by-product of learning. But the goal is to produce better prints, and waste less filament as you grow.

4. The best way to complain is to make something.
From glasses frames to tool grips, if you’re not satisfied with what’s out there, just make your own model! You’ll get to pick up new skills, flex your creativity, and help shape the future of product design.

If you think a project should be done a different way, go ahead and try it! Add your own modules to a project that needs more functionality. Build your updated version and share your results. Teach your way, rather than sitting back and critiquing — constructive criticism is valuable, but providing alternative solutions is way better.

5. It doesn’t always work on the first try.
I’m still learning all the different issues to watch out for. Sometimes I don’t catch a printing irregularity until someone gets all snarky on my proud Twitter post :)

We can’t promise you perfection, but we absolutely promise you our best.

DIY robots, music, EEG, wearables, languages. FIRST alumna. Hardware Nerd @hacksterio. She/her

DIY robots, music, EEG, wearables, languages. FIRST alumna. Hardware Nerd @hacksterio. She/her