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Posted by mcwoods 
September 11, 2009 02:13PM
Hey everyone,
I am new to this forum, so I will start with a little background. I am a recent graduate of Brown University in Providence, RI. I studied manufacturing and design in college, and am currently the founder of a RI based startup with a couple classmates who graduated with me. As the lead engineer for my company, I have been looking for ways to take our prototyping to the next level, and 3D printing has been something I have pushed for to the company for some time now. I also do freelance CAD work using Solidworks, so virtual modeling is something I am very familiar with. During my search for more affordable 3D printing I came across this group, and it seems very interesting to me, both as the lead engineer of a (currently) low budget startup and someone who is constantly tinkering with gadgets. Unfortunately, neither the company (since we are pre-seed funding) nor myself (pre-salary) can't afford to get involved in the project through buying a kit, so I was wondering if there was any other way that I might get involved while I save up my money.
Re: advice
September 11, 2009 03:03PM
The quickest way to start contributing is to write documentation. For example skeinforge needs more documentation and you can help develop it on the wiki at:

Once you know the project better, you can try designing stuff and posting it on thingiverse:

Once you contribute for a while, you'll get to know people and if you contribute a lot, eventually someone will offer to print parts for you. With those parts and a few hundred dollars to buy an electronics package and the metal parts, you could then make your own.

Re: advice
September 12, 2009 05:35AM
Check out the repstrap documentation - basically it's a low-cost reprap built out of scavenged parts . By using anything you have to hand, it keeps the costs down.

There are some good RepStrap blogs out there - they've got good ideas and a description of real-life building, for example

The software will run happily without being connected to a RepRap - the java host software, and the skeinforge toolset will both run, slice 3-d models, and you can view the generated toolpaths. That's a good (free) way to get started.

Designing objects for thingiverse is a really good way of contributing - anything 'cool' or practical will almost certainly get printed by someone, and you'll probably get some photos and comments of the printed object. It also starts to free your mind of the normal constraints from 'normal' manufacturing (e.g. complexity - free! complex curves - easy!) as you no longer have to worry about how the object is produced .

Reprapping blog and other rants: [renoirsrants.blogspot.com]
My Reprap: [sites.google.com]
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