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3-D Printing Resources

  1. Jul 29, 2017 #1


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    Staff: Mentor

    I'd like to create a thread with links to 3-D Printer resources, including printers and software package suggestions. My motivations are selfish, as I have a 3-D printed project that I'm working on, and I'd like to buy a simple printer and use low cost software to make the first prototype.

    There are some previous threads about 3-D printing like this: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/are-3d-printers-easy-to-use-yet.917489/

    but none that address the overall topic (unless I've missed them). Thoughts and suggestions? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2017 #2


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    Depending upon whether you are primarily getting your own printer; or, doing your project; and, if Polyamide (nylon) is suitable, then from my own first entry to 3D modelling and printing I would suggest using Autodesk TinkerCAD (free) for modelling and imaterialize.com for PDM (powder deposition method) printing (which results in a bit stronger part than the extrusion method) and is done at a very reasonable price with excellent part accuracy (my part's printed accuracy were within +- .001 in of my model dimensions) and essentially no post printing surface finishing was required. Another advantage of PDM is that there is no requirement for supports for over hanging features flanges, etc.

    It only took me about 2 hrs to learn how to use TinkerCAD and create my first simple model for printing; and, there are a number of educational blogs from experienced TinkerCAD users that teach the tricks for more complicated structures. In the one month since I started this process I have designed and had printed three different gps/camera accessories for a printing price, including shipping, of less than $25.00 (US) each; and the customer support by imaterialize is excellent.

    imaterialize can also print in an array of polymers (and metals) by other printing methods as well, but I have no experience with any of those alternatives.

    Just a suggestion.
  4. Aug 5, 2017 #3
    I bought a fairly simple printer (TEVO Tarantrula) from AliExpress some time ago, it had some issues, but after a bit of patience and googling I have a device I'm quite happy with. As it came as a kit, I had to put it all together, and the devices themselves are really uncomplicated. Of course people far more talented than myself had already done all the hard work in terms of software, my unit uses "Marlin Firmware" (http://marlinfw.org/) which gets dumped on a Arduino based board and bobs your uncle. And after watching a few youtube videos, some of which were from this guy, (http://www.makersmuse.com/) I'm fairly comfortable with the whole thing.

    In terms of CAD software, I use Fusion360 (https://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/overview) it has a 30 day fee trial which can be made unlimited if you register as a hobbyist/enthusiast, it is an Autodesk product like TinkerCAD, but significantly more powerful, in my humble opinion.

    If 3D design is not your bag, then (https://www.thingiverse.com/) has all sorts of objects you can just download, send to your slicing* program directly and print.

    *Slicing programs are what takes your CAD designed masterpiece and chops it up into little layers that your 3D printing software can understand, i.e. boatloads of X,Y,Z co-ordinates.
    3 major slicing programs I've come across are;
    CURA (https://ultimaker.com/en/products/cura-software) which is free
    SLIC3R (http://slic3r.org/download) which is also free, but was last updated in 2015, and we are still waiting for the April 2017 update
    SIMPLFY3d (https://www.simplify3d.com/) which is less free at $150
  5. Oct 20, 2017 #4
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