Posted In: Guides
Being in the technology field, and a geek in general, I had a cursory understanding of 3D printing. Around July I started seeing some pretty decent price drops on 3D printers so I decided to research more and take the plunge. Here are some tips/observations I have made in my first six months that hopefully others will find helpful. I don’t normally write stuff like this as my thought patterns tend go “A.D.D.” Please ask me to elaborate on any of the points I make below. Also, while not technically a “guide”, I didn’t think this post fit under other boards as well as it does here. “Mea Culpa”
1. Watch YouTube!
There are more channels related to 3D printing than you can shake a stick at. Some channels are better than others. But I have come to trust a few above the others. MakersMuse, Thomas Sanladerer, and the 3D Printing Professor are at the top of my list. If you are looking to learn about 3D Printing, hear reviews of printers & filaments, and have the content presented in enjoyable and easy to digest segments. Start here.
2. Join groups and communities
Well you’re here so that’s a start. But seriously, there are many groups and communities you can join. I have found many groups on Facebook that are both international as well as local related to 3D printing as well as “Making” in general. Many of the websites where you can download STL’s have their own communities and blogs to follow as well. I have not found a maker community that was not open, accepting, and supportive so get out there.
3. Be brave
I guess this point about bravery could be lumped into the point above, but this is more about overcoming your own doubts than social engagement. This is definitely an area that I still struggle with personally, so don’t judge. 🙂 Many of the 3D printing projects you will come accross involve more than loading filament and hitting go. From wiring and sodering, to woodworking and painting. There is a myriad of ways to take what you pull off the printer to the next level. Heck, even getting a printer can be the first hurdle as most require some level of assembly. This where the don’t judge me line comes into play. My 1st 3D printer was a MonoPrice Select mini v1. Don’t get me wrong, this little guy is a trooper and an amazing printer for the price. But part of the reason I purchased the mini over a delta printer I was looking at was due to the percieved difficulty of assembling and calibrating. Being in the community for a little while now, I realize that if I had actually run into any trouble, there were literally dozens of websites with people who would gladly have offered to help. So be brave, and trust in yourself as well as the Maker community.
4. Brace for fun addiction!
Okay, this one is a little more tongue in cheek than the other points. But, it is just as valid. I quickly realized after getting my 1st printer that I was going to need more printers. I am always on the lookout for my next printer and currently cannot help but buy more filament than I know what to do with. Prepare how much space you want to dedicate to 3D printing and then double it!
3D printing has renewed my interest in CAD and 3D design. Something I hadn’t done in many years. It has also encouraged me to expand my maker/tinker skillset. I find myself looking longingly at things like acrylic paint, micro mesh sets, tools and electronic parts. It sometimes gets to the point where I almost feel overwhelmed by all the things I want to do next that I can’t find a place to start! Again, let me know if you have any questions and I hope someone finds this helpful.
Trust but verify: There are a lot of filament manufacturers out there, and I think every one has its own set of lovers and haters. I will not be naming any specific brands because I want this to devolve into a X vs. Y conversation. I think you should read the reviews and feel safe in going with brands with a good reputation. But, you should also experiment. I have had some bad experiences with filament from brands with stellar reputations. I have also had some great results from brands that had zero reviews on Amazon. There are so many variables that lead to a successful or failed print.
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