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Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!

Posted by C15Fudge 
Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 27, 2012 02:13AM
So, I've known for a long time that 3D Printers exist, but until about 2 weeks ago, I had no idea how accessible they had become!!! Now, the more research I do, the more excited I get, and I've learned more in the past week about 3D printing than I ever thought possible.

Now, for the next step. I am currently on the hunt for my very own 3D Printer. Here comes the problem. I am NOT an engineer, or a programmer, or a builder of things. I'm more of a hobbyist and enjoy making small things like jewelry and crafts (hence the reason I want a 3D printer). So, in doing some research, I think I've settled on either a prusa mendel, a makerbot thing-o-matic (if I can afford it), or a printrbot (if I can manage to wait that long for them to get their store up and running). The thing is, I don't really want to put it together myself since I'm not sure how well that would go and I don't want to chance it.

Anyway, the reason I'm posting. In anticipation of getting my very own toy, I've been looking into 3D printing software, and found a couple of options. I tried downloading openscad as well as blender onto my Mac. However, neither would work. In doing some research, I found that, since I have a Mac OS X, version 10.4, neither current update of those programs will run on my Mac. Well, I couldn't find a version of either program (or any different program) that would work on my computer.

Again, keep in mind this isn't really my element, so I am turning to the more learned people out there in RepRap land. The question is, IS there a program (or programs) that I can use to design and print my own 3D models that are open source, or do I need to just suck it up and get a new computer? I want to practice designing my own 3D models, but I don't really know where to start. Any other tips/advice for a true newbie would be appreciated as well. And, if you could dial it down to like a 5th grade level, that would be awesome. I may not be completely dumb, but at least then I'll be guaranteed to understand it.

Thank you in advance to this amazing community of innovative people. Oh, and if you have anything negative to say, please keep it to yourself.
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 27, 2012 03:41AM
Google sketchup, Blender.

You need to be able to save to .stl

However I don't know if any of those will work on a MAC

Experimenting in 3D in New Zealand
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 27, 2012 09:46AM
For assembly the big thing is if you are good at looking at assembling kits. If you can look at a diagram and get the parts together in the same way, or can pick up on what the instructions tell you, you can do it. Gray Hodgson has really good assembly instructions for the Prusa Mendel: [garyhodgson.com] .
For getting it going, sounds like you're doing your background research. Read the reprap wiki and the older posts here and make notes. I don't have a background in programming either. But I'm good at figuring out the mechanical part.
There are plenty of things on Thingiverse you can print to get you started. Looking at SCAD/Blender/etc. files people have posted is a good way to see how people build a item.
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 27, 2012 12:22PM
You're likely going to have to upgrade that computer to run any of the decent software packages (at all), let alone at a decent speed.

There are a plethora of 3d printers out now, most of them derivatives of the reprap Prusa mendel. Not a lot of preassembled ones out there other than through a service or via MakerBot.

I bought a Thing-O-Matic kit first and now I'm fighting to get my hot end working on a prusa mendel I printed myself...if building mechanical things aren't your thing, you may have trouble with the kits and pre-assembled can be very costly.

The biggest challenge is the build instructions are often incomplete, don't perfectly lineup with the kit/parts you have or assume you know/understand a certain concept so gloss over it....I'm pretty technical and found a number of gaps myself.

Fortunately, there is a HUGE community that can help you so consider tracking down some local folks (check hackerspaces or universities) for people doing the same thing....my experience is that they will help with open arms and fill in those gaps and also help you make the right choices in which machine to get.

Seeing one in person is a big help in understanding what you're getting into as well.

Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 27, 2012 04:45PM
Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. I found someone who has kits available and seems to offer really comprehensive, detailed directions specific to his parts. I've been looking into the local hacker/tech scene. It seems to be small and very underground, but hopefully I'll make contact soon. I've been meaning to get a new computer. I guess this is my excuse to get one (you know, when I come up with the money).
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 27, 2012 06:25PM
I run both a Prusa and a Sells Mendel (one at a time) from either an old Pentium4 or if out and about an Intel Atom netbook. The computer doing the driving doesn't need to be powerful at all, the only thing I find is they are both slow to run skeinforge slicing so I do that on my main desktop in the office

Experimenting in 3D in New Zealand
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 27, 2012 07:25PM
Do you know where I could get some open source software for my Mac?
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 28, 2012 02:13AM
Unfortunately no I don't know of any

Experimenting in 3D in New Zealand
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 28, 2012 12:09PM
You'll need to be more specific about software: what do you want to do with it?

As has already been mentioned, Google Sketchup and Blender are available for the Mac. Also, Meshlab, Pleasant 3D and others are also freely available.

Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 29, 2012 12:35PM
As I stated, I tried downloading Google Sketchup and Blender on my Mac, but they wouldn't work. I guess my Mac is to old for them. I will look into the others. I want 3D Modeling software that is relatively user friendly.
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 29, 2012 11:04PM
If you can't run Sketchup, it's doubtful your Mac could run any other package.

As far as user friendly goes, that will be up to you to decide.

You may also want to check out [Tinkercad.com] since it's browser based...although given your Mac, it may not have the horsepower to run it either.

I did a post about it recently: [johnbiehler.com]

You'll need to use Chrome or Firefox (latest versions) to use Tinkercad.

Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
January 30, 2012 05:53AM
Certainly add [blog.ultimaker.com] to your list of 3D printers. It is a kit, as easily built as the Makerbots'.
The Ultimaker has a huge advantage being its speed. When printing with more detail, twice higher resolution will double your print time. The Ultimaker allows for more detail within a reasonable print-time.

Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
February 02, 2012 05:42PM
i will also recommend mendelmax (www.mendelmax.com). no "kits" are available (yet), though there is a complete BOM and plastic parts can be bought from a couple vendors (lulzbot and techpaladin... the techpaladin kit being the better option imho). the good thing about the mendelmax is that there is no adjustment necessary. no lining up of rods. and it's not made of a bunch of wiggly threaded rod, so higher print speeds should be attainable. i built one myself with no experience whatsoever and didn't have any trouble at all beyond waiting for parts.
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
February 04, 2012 09:59AM
C15Fudge, what Mac have you got? if your Mac is an older PowerPC Mac, not an Intel-based one, I'm not sure you will find anything recent will run on it. Better to go an buy the cheapest netbook with Windows or (perhaps cheaper) Ubuntu - most software is available for linux. I run all my 3D printer software (Printrun, Openscad, Skeinforge, Blender, Slic3r) on an Intel-based MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard. I think 10.5 (Leopard) should run most software okay, but again, I think your Mac will need to have an Intel, not PowerPC, processor.
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
February 12, 2012 12:52PM
Legacy versions of Blender can be downloaded here.

The url is [download.blender.org]

Really, though, you may have to investigate buying a new computer. Apple switched over to intel processors in 2005. Finding all of the software you need will be a lot easier with a newer computer.
Re: Just discovered this 2 weeks ago!!!!
February 12, 2012 01:02PM
You really should be able to get Blender to work, even on a PowerPC Mac. On the Blender downloads page, there is a PowerPC version (although it says that it requires OSX 10.5+).

If you can't upgrade your OS, you can get legacy versions of Blender at [download.blender.org]
well for a different answer....

make it easy on yourself - don't try to do everything all at once.

if you want to make models and don't want to spend the money or
the time learning how to make things....
I'd suggest start out by learning how to make stl files.
You can then farm the hard work out and sent the stl files to a rapid prototyping company.
shapeways.com is a good place to go (note: i'm not connected with shapeways)

If you get acceptable results and want to learn more then take the next step,
spend the bucks and buy some hardware.

By this time you will know more and be in a better place to make good decisions.
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