Here are some more comments from Matt, WX1A on his journey to accumulate 3D printing experience. You can learn a lot from him.
“I use PRUSASLICER to go from 3D models (e.g., “.STL” files from Thingiverse) into g-code that I download to an SD card for printing. I typically use layer thickness no more than 0.15mm. I stick exclusively to PLA and PETG for now.
PLA is pretty easy to use. PETG is trickier. When transitioning to PETG, start with something simple like the ghost bookmark. I use isopropyl alcohol to clean the bed prior to PLA prints. I use Windex (which leaves a small film behind) to clean the bed prior to PETG builds. Even then, some PETG prints really stick to the bed.
Prusa includes the g-code for their PETG C-Clamp on their web site. This is a great early build for PETG. It’s a really cool product and it is easy to release from the bed due to its large size. PETG can clump and string very easily. I use PRUSA and Overture PLA and PETG. I use the PRUSASLICER settings for PLA and I lower the temperatures by 10-15 deg. At 250°, I find PETG can become a clumping-stringing mess. Cooler temps help it to behave better. You’ll have to play with it a bit.
Prints can be slow. You don’t need to watch over them continuously. However, it is critical that you watch the first couple of layers, when problems happen. My biggest disaster was a relatively large print (maybe 3″ in diameter) that totally lifted off the bed. Unfortunately, as the print stuck to the nozzle, the printer didn’t detect a crash and kept printing. The result was the nozzle squirting out several cubic centimeters of PLA and moving around with the glob as if it were printing. When I came by an hour later, I found this ungodly mess which was no fun to clean up.” (Matt now has a remote camera for monitoring.)
Accumulate 3D Printing Experience – Software and More
“As for designing my own parts, I use Tinkercad. It’s a free online CAD tool and it is quite easy to use. Use their online tutorials to teach you basic tasks (making shapes, aligning them, joining them, making holes, rounding corners, etc.). They seem challenging at first. But once you learn how to make shapes, duplicate them, adjust their sizes, and align them, you’ll be off and running.
Things that I’ve designed so far: 1) an endcap for a PVC drain pipe that allows water to drain but keeps critters (frogs) out, 2) a aesthetically pleasing eye drop holder for my dog’s eyedrops, 3) a project box for a greenhouse vent fan that I’m building, 3) a custom holder for the temp/humidity sensor for my greenhouse, 4) a custom cookie cutter for my wife’s club,
I keep working and learning. I’m also playing with electronics and ham radio. I’m basing my electronics projects on the ESP32 processor. It’s a really powerful and easy to program system that uses the Arduino development environment. ESP32 projects and 3D printer projects dovetail nicely. Random Nerd Tutorials is a great site for learning the basics.” (Thanks, Matt.)