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  1. #1

    help getting started....

    many years ago I had access to solid works, but that access is no longer avail...and I find myself in the occassional situation where I could really use a 3d part....and the 3d printer seems to be the perfect answer...no too expensive...and from all reports...fairly easy to use...

    here's the question....

    I have zero idea what to buy

    hardware...I don't need anything very big...any models I might make would never be bigger than 4 or 5 inches square....

    is it ok the printer is open or are the ones enclosed better?

    software....
    I don't have any 3d or for that matter 2 d software anymore....can I get a 3d printer that has drawing software already onboard?

    I have macintosh computers...will most 3d printers run off of mac?

    thanks....rb

  2. #2
    Hello RB. I bought the least expensive printer that was available around last year. It is a Tronxy kit from Gearbest that was only ~$180 shipped. One thing I wish it had was a proximity sensor for assisting with bed leveling. There are people with much more hardware experience than me here though, so hopefully you'll get some more input.

    Fortunately, there are a lot of options for 3D modeling software out there. FreeCAD and Openscad are free and both are available for Mac. Fusion 360 and Onshape are other options that are free, but with catches. Fusion 360 is free if you make less than $100k a year using it. Onshape has a free plan, but your designs can't be kept private under that plan. If you're used to Solidworks, Onshape may be a good place to start. It looks and feels very close to SW, since it was started by former SW employees.

    I've never actually connected my printer to my computer and just run it off of a SD card, so I don't know about connectivity problems.

    Good luck,

    Matt

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by JustMatt View Post
    Hello RB. I bought the least expensive printer that was available around last year. It is a Tronxy kit from Gearbest that was only ~$180 shipped. One thing I wish it had was a proximity sensor for assisting with bed leveling. There are people with much more hardware experience than me here though, so hopefully you'll get some more input.

    Fortunately, there are a lot of options for 3D modeling software out there. FreeCAD and Openscad are free and both are available for Mac. Fusion 360 and Onshape are other options that are free, but with catches. Fusion 360 is free if you make less than $100k a year using it. Onshape has a free plan, but your designs can't be kept private under that plan. If you're used to Solidworks, Onshape may be a good place to start. It looks and feels very close to SW, since it was started by former SW employees.

    I've never actually connected my printer to my computer and just run it off of a SD card, so I don't know about connectivity problems.

    Good luck,

    Matt

    Matt...thanks for the reply...and you solved teh software issue...just to make sure I'm getting this correctly...you compile your file, say of a cube, using the software, say it was Free Cad, and save it as a file that's compatible with your 3d printer...you then copy that file to a SD card, or maybe you save it diredtly to the SD card, and then transfer the sd card to the 3d printer? Did I get this right?

  4. #4
    The workflow for me goes: design software -> output design to .stl file -> import .stl into slicing software and set up the layers / temperatures / settings as desired -> export g.code to SD card -> plug SD card into printer and run g.code. I've been using Cura for slicing software, but there are other options as well. The slicing software breaks your model down into many layers (or slices, hence the name) and tells when and where to move the extruder to make each layer.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    what he said.

    You need a cad package - lots of free ones - to produce the model and output it as an .stl (stereolithographic) file.

    That file is then opened in a slicer (software that slices the model into the layers the printer will actually print) which processes it into a .gcode file.
    And it's the gcode file that the printer actually uses to produce your model.

    have a look at the monoprice mini: https://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-Sel...ice+mini&psc=1
    Good bit of kit. And for the money an ideal entry into 3d printing.

  6. #6
    thanks for the advice....

    rb

    Quote Originally Posted by curious aardvark View Post
    what he said.

    You need a cad package - lots of free ones - to produce the model and output it as an .stl (stereolithographic) file.

    That file is then opened in a slicer (software that slices the model into the layers the printer will actually print) which processes it into a .gcode file.
    And it's the gcode file that the printer actually uses to produce your model.

    have a look at the monoprice mini: https://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-Sel...ice+mini&psc=1
    Good bit of kit. And for the money an ideal entry into 3d printing.

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