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5 very useful tools and gadgets for better 3D printing

I've collected a small selection of tools close to my printer. Here are the ones I wind up using all the time.

OK, I'm getting into 3D printing a lot more than I thought I would.

There's something amazing about seeing a 3D model of an object on a screen being transformed into physical reality. And the speed and accuracy of the AnkerMake M5 I'm using allows me to make more prints, faster, outputting some of the most accurate prints I've seen right out of the box.

Also: How to get into 3D printing without breaking (too many) things

But I've noticed that I've slowly collected a small selection of tools close to my printer. (OK, they're within the enclosure my printer lives in)

Here are the tools I wind up using all the time.

Micro cutters used to remove the supports on a 3D print
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I use these micro wire cutters for a variety of things, from cutting the end of filament before feeding it into the 3D printer to nibbling at the supports on prints.

Using micro cutters is far safer than hacking at a print with a knife, and they allow for greater precision.

I recommend picking up a five-pack of cheap micro cutters because they're super useful for all sorts of cutting, and by buying the cheaper cutters, you can throw them away when they're blunt.

Bent-nose pliers are another useful tool for removing print supports
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Bent-nose pliers are super handy for removing the supports that are sometimes needed when printing a complicated object with overhangs. These supports can be in awkward places that are not easy to access with your fingers or snips.

Bent-nose pliers are the perfect tool to access these hard-to-reach supports.

3D printers generate a lot of annoying plastic bits that need dealing with
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

3D printing creates a lot of plastic bits that, if left unchecked, tend to get everywhere.

Also: The best cheap 3D printers under $300

To stay ahead of the mess, I use my cordless stick vacuum cleaner -- with a fitted crevice tool -- which is a great all-around vacuum cleaner. If you want something more specific to keep in your workshop, a smaller, USB-charging handheld vacuum cleaner might be a better choice.

Digital calipers come in handy when precision printing is what you're doing
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

As you start to print more complicated objects, or parts that need to fit together or accommodate something that already exists in the real world, accuracy becomes increasingly important.

AlsoThis $8 tool has dramatically improved my 3D printing results

Here's a tool that I've found super useful: digital calipers. You can use them for all your measuring needs. You won't need super-expensive $100+ calipers. (Although if you are working in a high-precision industry, then a set of Mitutoyo digital calipers offers greater peace of mind.) For most of us, the accuracy of cheaper calipers is more than enough. 

To test the accuracy of your printer you can output calibration prints and use the digital calipers to measure them for accuracy.

Mini diamond needle files
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

These tiny files are perfect for smoothing out and finishing 3D prints. I find them particularly useful for cleaning up threads and knurling on prints as they can get into tight spaces.

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