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Hey Everyone,

I am looking to get into 3d printing an will be buying an entry level printer over black Friday in the less than $300.00 range. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! I am a equipment technician by trade, so I don’t thing there will be to much a technical learning curve, although I am very interested in getting into the design aspect and eventually making my own 3d models.

Any advice would be great and I hope to give back to community as well.

Thank you!

A lot of people think that buying a 3D printer is the answer. It isn’t. Without establishing firstly that you can use a CAD program to design parts, the printer becomes an expensive ornament. There must be thousands of printers out there that are never used because the owners can’t do anything other than download useless things off Thingiverse and print them. The way to go about it is to download a CAD program, Blender/Openscad whatever, then spend a few weeks using You Tube tutorials to learn how to use it. It isn’t an overnight process, it will take dedication, perseverance, and an understanding of the terminology, as well as learning how to create objects that will actually print, how to design them to save filament, structural integrity, faster prints, splitting large objects into smaller ones, interference fitting and so on.

Once you have mastered the CAD program, and allow a couple of months, then look at the printer you need to print the things that you design. The CR10 has a large print bed and a huge following, its smaller brother also. Once you have the printer you can then look at setting it up to print, problem solving etc.

You can test your files using Cura without a printer, the software is all free, and way cheaper than buying a printer and then realising that you have neither the time or aptitude to make use of it.

3D design/printing is not a simple thing, not even remotely simple. Unless you have a lot of spare time and are prepared to lock yourself away night after night to learn, it’s a non-starter. I have been doing it for around 4 years, most days/evenings, and I am still learning.

Wibbly has made some great points about the 3D printing world. If your intent is to design your own models, it matters little what printer you buy today, although some are indeed better than others.

I’ll second the recommendation for OpenSCAD, a text based model generator that lends itself well to the logical mind. Blender is rather challenging to beginners and is a less-technical-model builder, but great for organic model building.

I’ve also used and can recommend Fusion360 (free to hobbyists) and OnShape. A couple of our makerspace members are big fans of TinkerCad, although it can be limiting. Absolutely stay away from SketchUp for 3D model making. It’s too easy to generate models that won’t 3D print, or if they print, you get broken segments. Meshmixer is another free program that has usefulness in modifying models created from the above software packages.

I’ve got all of the above in my “toolkit” and have to use YouTube or The Google to find an answer, but having an expansive resource of many programs is to your advantage.

Three things you need to do.

  1. Have a good idea of what you want to use the printer for. Are you making proto types, things for existing hobbies etc.
  2. Get a cad program and use it a lot before you even start to print. Cad programs can cost a lot, but there are a lot of free ones out there. Of the free cad programs I won’t recommend one, as I haven’t used any of them. I use rhino3d and solid works.
  3. For $300, buy a kit. You get more for your money and if something doesn’t work you have a good idea how to fix it. You can print some sample parts and play with print settings and materials. Make sure your printer has a heated bed. Most of all have fun.

I agree with all previous answers, but I want to give my 2 cents too.
There are a lot of differents materials witch you can use to print things, but for a beginner I suggest to start with PLA only (It’s the easiest material to print with), once you feel confortable with it you can try different type of filaments.

To make 3D models I use fusion360 and Ideamaker is my slicer of choice

And Here is my Two Cents. Is a Super easy yet powerful (basic) Online cad program it’s part of the Autodesk world. Also ( can use for free but does have some paid options that aren’t that expensive ) can take hand drawn pictures and turn them into .stl files that can be brought into all of the above mentioned programs. It’s a good idea to run any .stl thru Meshmixer it has a repair feature. Blender and Fusion 360 are both awesome and have great YouTube tutorials. Solidworks is along the same lines but is pricier to use. Blender is free, Fusion 360 you can get a free license-education, small business, hobbyist etc. Meshmixer is a little trickier- windows pop up asking for a license, just close them till they offer a non licensed option.

well here’s my two cents as well, im afraid I don’t agree in what most has been said for just one teeny weeny reason, and that is Why do you have to learn Cad programs to use a printer did you all learn cad programs before you purchased you printers, Every one has to start Somewhere in my book buying a cheap printer is a good start, you can get the feel of printing things before Jumping into cad Programming you have to WALK before you can run and you might fall a couple of times just get up and start again, and if you don’t like it sell it on flea bay with all the other Thousands that are out there, that way you haven’t lost a lot but you just might gain a bit, at least you had a go and tried something different, and good luck to you if you do…

I agree! But they did say they were buying a entry level printer and was asking about modeling. Of course you have too learn how to use your printer. But if you want to make models you have to learn how to use at least one program.

I can share something every beginner needs. Mudbox is undoubtedly the best software for 3D printing, but if you researched it a bit you probably already know that it is super expensive. There’s a solution to the price problem though. Here check the mudbox 2016 . You will find a second-hand license there and it is super cheap.