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axoid

3D Printing

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I'll never say that I know everything or have tried everything, but I have been using my 3D Printing for 2 years and I've been designing my own objects just as long.

 

If anyone needs help or has questions, I'll do my best to give you a hand.

 

I use a modified Printrbot Simple Metal. Software that I often use: FreeCAD, Meshmixer, Imagine 3D, Matter Control and Blender(just a little).

 

Bill Rockhold

Edited by axoid
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That last sentence was all gobbledigook to me. :D

 

But seriously, for someone who has no background in 3D design, much less about the hardware and software required, where does one start? I'm thinking about prototyping objects that are smaller than 4, maybe 5 inches cube. How much am I looking to spend and who makes the cheapest (yet reliable) 3D printers?

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That last sentence was all gobbledigook to me. :D

 

But seriously, for someone who has no background in 3D design, much less about the hardware and software required, where does one start? I'm thinking about prototyping objects that are smaller than 4, maybe 5 inches cube. How much am I looking to spend and who makes the cheapest (yet reliable) 3D printers?

 

Here is a couple of beginner's guides:

http://www.3ders.org/3d-printing-basics.html

https://3dprintingindustry.com/3d-printing-basics-free-beginners-guide/

 

With 3D Printing there is a lot of choices to make.

 

When it comes to design software and if your looking to prototype "industrial" objects you should start looking at Autodesk's TinkerCAD or Fusion 360. They are solid CAD design software that have good reputations in the Printing community. TinkerCAD is a better choice for beginners and free. Fusion 360 cost money, but is relatively affordable. I use FreeCAD and is free and very capable, but is hard to use with a steep learning curve.

 

As a beginner, you should stick to PLA plastic. It is easier to work with than ABS and other plastics. PLA doesn't need heated print bed, but is only good for indoor temperatures. PLA doesn't do well in car heat. ABS smells when it prints and is technically toxic. It also NEEDS a heated print bed and is better for functional parts. PET plastic is less common but is developing a reputation of being better than the other two.

 

For a printer itself I wouldn't consider anything under $300 and most of the good ones fall between $500 and $1200. Printrbot is a solid company with a helpful users community, though they are starting to make more feature rich printers which is causing the prices to go up ($1000 https://printrbot.com/shop/simple-v2/).You can still get the one that I have which is more basic in features ($600 https://printrbot.com/shop/assembled-simple-metal/) but it still prints well. When I got started they had very good customer support and it is a US company.

 

Some other printers to consider:

 

PowerSpec Ultra 3D Printer 

http://www.microcenter.com/product/448607/Ultra_3D_Printer

I've heard decent things about the Monoprice printers.

https://www.monoprice.com/Product?p_id=15365

 

The only brand I would stay away from is Makerbot. They are a big company, but everything is proprietary. The 3D Printing version of Apple. Most other companies use open architectures.

 

I hope that gives you a place to start, but I'm sure you have more questions.

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Thank you for the treasure trove of knowledge. Truly appreciated. :)

 

I almost backed a Kickstarter project for a $200-250 printer (it's gone now). Though affordable, it looked wobbly and doesn't appear it would last long. The printhead is suspended using three arms (a delta, I think it's called) and at least in theory, should work fine. But in reality, my engineering brain cells are saying that a misalignment or wear on the mechanical parts would cause it to be less precise.... which can get magnified at the printhead. Not to mention that the parts its made of almost looked like one Lego would build. It didn't inspire much confidence so I walked away.

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