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  • 3D Printing: Step by Step?

    OK, I have decided that I will get a 3D printer. Haven't picked one yet. What I would like to ask is just what do I need and need to do in order to get started.

    I have a first project in mind, a stand or holder for my TV remote. It will both keep the broken battery cover on and allow me to stand the remote in a vertical position on my desk. Here is a quick concept drawing.



    What I want is to know where I go from this 2D CAD drawing. What do I need? And how do I do it? I would guess that a 3D CAD drawing would be the first step, but will any 3D CAD program do or do I need any specific ones. Cost is a prime consideration so no $10K programs, PLEASE. Free would be best.

    And then what are the steps from there? Do I need any kind of program that translates the 3D drawing into something the printer will understand? Should I buy the printer first and work backwards?
    Paul A.
    SE Texas

    And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
    You will find that it has discrete steps.

  • #2
    3d files for printing are in STL format. A piece of software converts the STL file into code that drives the printer, along with allowing printing options to be specified. (many good free programs available)

    So for your remote stand, draw it in 3d format, save it as a STL file.

    1st step, buy a printer. Its a very easy learning curve.

    Comment


    • #3
      It is just a very basic CNC mill control holding a hot glue gun.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Sparky_NY View Post
        1st step, buy a printer. Its a very easy learning curve.
        +1
        I used this approach a couple of months ago, whatever 3D modelling and slicing software you try you'll find the support forum sites are full of helpful people.
        You'll probably replace the broken battery cover with a printed one quite soon, last month I modelled and printed a new castor main body for our vacuum cleaner after it threw itself down the stairs :-

        https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2431521

        Regards,
        Nick
        If you benefit from the Dunning-Kruger Effect you may not even know it ;-)

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        • #5
          I recommend Fusion 360 for the CAD work. All the fun of autodesk with none of the price. Can't help you with any of the other software you'll need though

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          • #6
            " What I want is to know where I go from this 2D CAD drawing. What do I need? And how do I do it? I would guess that a 3D CAD drawing would be the first step, but will any 3D CAD program do or do I need any specific ones. Cost is a prime consideration so no $10K programs, PLEASE. Free would be best. "...

            There is an online, free web based cad program called Tinkercad (click to go there) that is designed for 3d printing. It's fairly primitive and yet works well. You can quickly build up a model there. The result is a model that you download as an STL file.

            Then you use a free slicer program that takes the model in the STL file and converts it to gcode that will build the 3d model one layer at a time. That gcode is then sent to the printer that has it's own controller.

            It's not too hard. I was able to convert a 2D picture (using http://www.online-convert.com/) to a 3d profile in a "SVG" format. I imported that into tinkercad, rescaled it, then emailed the resulting STL file to my buddy who then printed it out. Took only an hour or two.


            Dan
            At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

            Location: SF East Bay.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by H380 View Post
              It is just a very basic CNC mill control holding a hot glue gun.
              It's a CNC extruder. But that doesn't sound as sexy as "3D printing." Actually I'd even argue they are more like 3d plotters than printers.

              Recently I picked up a generic (as is my style) Qidi printer from Amazon. I'm using Linux so am limited to FreeCAD and Cura, which are also freely available on Windows/Mac. The tricky part was finding the gcode to add as the setup, beyond that the main learning curve depends on your CAD skills.

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              • #8
                First step is to import the 2d dxf (or dwg) into a 3d modeling program. I use Fusion 360. It's free for hobbyists. You should also redesign it to be more 3d printer friendly. The long arch requires a lot of support which may or may not work well. Once you have the 3d model, save it in a format the slicer program can use, generally STL. In the slicer program, set all of the parameters to print the model. I use Slic3r for slicing. It's also free and open source. It outputs gCode which is used by the printer.

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                • #9
                  I haven't delved into 3D cad yet,but I did recently buy a printer and started learning to use it.I'm using Cura for slicing software and like it since it's fairly simple to use.
                  I just need one more tool,just one!

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                  • #10
                    Looking into Fusion 360 I see free offers for a three year student/academic subscription, but they say nothing about amateur use. If I register as a student, I wonder what happens after that three years expires. Can it be renewed? There is no way I can afford their regular prices and I do not want to invest my time in learning to use it only to find that I am forced out after three years.
                    Paul A.
                    SE Texas

                    And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                    You will find that it has discrete steps.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      For a hobbyist I believe you choose the 'company' option when signing up. Its a one year subscription, but it's free so long as your 'turnover' is less than $100k. You only need to reverify your turnover once a year, and the licence continues free in perpetuity.

                      As far as the 3D printer goes, I could not recommend the Cetus 3D any more highly. It was truly an almost plug and play experience for me, no bed leveling or other tuning required.

                      For software, get a copy of Fusion360 and learn 3D CAD. Once you've learned 3D CAD you'll never go back to 2D. It's not even difficult, since you likely have the tools in your head on how to design a part sorted - you just need to learn the new tools to turn your 2D profiles into 3D parts. Fusion has a built-in .STL exporter, so you just send that file off to your slicer - or in the case of the Cetus, the control software has a built in slicer.

                      It couldn't be any easier, and honestly, on a weekly basis I find new uses for my printer. It's one of the purchases I'm most pleased with.

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                      • #12
                        It is free for hobbyists and companies making less than $100,000 per year. The price is $300 per year if you don't meet the hobbyist criteria. You just need to renew every year. They have repeatedly stated that it will continue to be free for hobbyists.

                        This took about 2 minutes to draw in Fusion 360:


                        If you add dimensions to your 2d drawing, I'll do an accurate model for you.

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                        • #13
                          Step by step:

                          * draw in a '3D modelling' package, and I'll add a +1 for Fusion 360.
                          * export as an STL file, which is a 3D model.
                          * import the STL into a 'slicer' package. I use Cura (free) but there are others.
                          * tell the slicer the specifics of your printer, the filament you are using, and the print characteristics you want.
                          * export the output of the slicer as printer specific gcode.
                          * get the gcode to your printer, via USB cable, wifi, SD card, or USB thumb drive (all depends on the printer).
                          * tell the printer to print it.
                          * wait.

                          Note that some of the above steps are starting to get integrated as, for example, fusion 360 actually has a slicer and some slicers talk directly to the printers. Eventually, it will be draw and print, except for the tinker-types (like most of us) that want full control.

                          The hardest part of all this is configuring the slicer, and it's not that hard considering all the help and examples out there for various printers. The settings in the slicer are your primary point of control, and it's mostly a trade-off between speed on the one hand and how pretty and strong it is on the other.

                          The next thing to get your head wrapped around is how to design something such that it is easy to print and strong in use. For example, in your design, I'd note that the bottom is going to have the texture of whatever you print on, the build table, so it's good that it's the bottom. The arches, likely being made of PLA plastic (the beginner's choice in filament) won't be that strong. Assuming the remote fits in the top, I'd fill those arches in with vertical bars or something or just leave them solid (look solid but the slicer can fill with a grid pattern of whatever density you want). At a fine layer setting, the sides actually end up looking the best.

                          If I went through and described all the slicer settings and what they do, you'd probably glaze over and not buy a printer. It's not that hard. Just get the printer and start playing. It will all make sense fairly quickly. Once it does, a 3D printer is a handy thing to have around. I've not had one for that long but it's already just another tool to fix things. Go for it. It's time.

                          David...
                          http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

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                          • #14
                            I'll second Fusion 360. easy to use and you can just convert your drawing to an STL file and dounload it directly to the printer software. I recomend
                            the Cusa printer that was mentioned here a few weeks ago.
                            You'll find excuses to use the printer. I made some specialty knobs with a captive nut for work. All kinds of stuff.

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                            • #15
                              A nice little book (~120 pages) is MAKE's Getting Started in 3D printing.
                              Here in Ottawa (Canada) the public library has a workcenter with assorted 3D machinery. DIY projects need only the .STL file; the user pays only for materials.

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