So you have purchased a 3D printer kit, or are thinking of building your own 3D printer soon. What other tools do you need to build, maintain and get into 3D printing? Well here is a list of my top 5 tools that I use all the time when 3D printing:

#1 - Digital Vernier Callipers

A photo of a generic set of digital vernier callipers

In a previous post I suggested that getting a pair of digital vernier callipers will save you a heap of time calibrating your 3D printer, and that you will use them all the time. So it is no surprise that I chose them as my #1 tool I use while 3D printing. I use them all the time, for taking measurements when designing content and double checking the dimensions of finished objects. I can’t “think” without them, just holding them and taking measurements is usually what I need to jump to the next step in a project.

I have a cheap pair, that you can pick up for $16 at Amazon. But since I use them all the time, I find myself drooling over the more expensive sets like this one from Mitutoyo for $115.

#2 - Hex/Allen Key Set.

A photo of a metric bondhus hex key set

If you are building, or repairing a 3D printer you will notice they are covered from head to toe in cap screws. If you don’t have a good set of hex keys (or allen keys), you are gonna have a bad time. I have a set ‘merican made Bondhus keys that you can pick up for $16.55, and they are fantastic. The balldriver on the end is perfect for those hard to reach places. They are super tough, and for less than $17, you can’t go wrong.

#3 - Spanners.

A photo of two adjustable wrenches

If you are building or working on a Prusa Mendel, you are going to have lots of nuts (about 160) to tighten as well. So you want a good set of spanners or a couple of adjustable wrenches. You can spend $42.45 on a set from Irwin, or you can go with a couple from Tekton for only $5.32.

#4 - Snipe nose pliers.

A photo of snipe nose pliers

3D printers are chock full of hard to reach places, and I find myself grabbing a set of snipe nosed pliers to hold a tricky part or nut in place while I tighten it up. They are also really handy when you need to go anywhere near the hotend when it is sitting at 180°C or something. I just have a cheap pair, but my friend Michael Candy has a crazy expensive Lindstrom set that you can find on Amazon for $55.00 that he swears by.

#5 - Flathead screwdriver and hammer/mallet.

A photo of a hammer and a flathead screwdriver

A small flathead screwdriver is really useful for scrapping molten plastic off your printer nozzle and for removing prints from a heated build platform. They are pretty easy to come across, but here is a set from Stanley for $11.03. You will also need a ‘knocking stick’ for taping those prints off your build platform, again just about everyone has one, but here is one for $8.96.

Everything else

Depending on how ‘finished’ your kit is, or how much from scratch you want to build your 3D printer, here are some other tools you will find useful:

  • A cordless drill for cleaning out holes in printed parts - $99
  • Hacksaw for cutting smooth and threaded rod - $24
  • A bench grinder for cleaning up those cuts - $95
  • A soldering iron for wiring up the electronics - $78
  • A multimeter for testing connections - $20


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