3D printing is cool and allows the creation of fantastic and detailed objects without needing much interaction with people after the design is done. But designing for 3D printing is a lot like designing for any other type of manufacturing. It helps to know a bit about the process involved and design with that process in mind.
Fused filament fabrication 3D printing, or FFF for short, is one of the oldest, most mature, and cheapest forms of 3D printing, so this series will focus on designing for it. It involves melting a plastic filament and drawing the object layer by layer, with each layer sitting on top of the one below it.
Designing for the most effective FFF printing means thinking about overhangs and supports and about the parts of the prints that don't have anything underneath them when they print. To avoid needing supports when printing, it can help to remember the letters Y, H, and T when designing, in order to remember to consider gradual overhangs, bridging, and orientation. In addition, it's important to remember that details should be, generally, about 2 mm thick.
Now that the mechanics of 3D printing and how they affect design have been covered, the next chapter will deal with the specific software that will be used in this series.