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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking for user experiences with hardware & software for an entry level / beginner type setup compatible with a Mac (Apple computer). I would like to be able to scan and replicate small parts (probably up to 6" cube print area), edit 3D files using an intuitive GUI, and am hoping to not need to buy a dedicated computer. I tried searching but this is such a new field to me that I don't really have the necessary vocabulary yet.

I would love to start scanning now, but may wait until the iPhone 14 Pro release in September (rather than buying a 13 Pro to get the LiDAR Scanner).


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I am thinking of buying this one, and use it with my Mac's too.

 

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Scanners are the biggest issue. If you want a very good copy then you need to pony up a ton of cash for a good quality scanner ($1K+).

On the printing side I've been very happy with my Ender 3 V2 from Creality. Its low cost, there are tons of parts available if you do want to upgrade, and it has a relatively large print bed. I've had good success with PLA and PETG.

For software I'd checkout the free version of Autodesk Fusion 360 and for manipulating already made files Meshmixer can be very handy. Hope that was helpful.
 

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If you are going to model parts to 3D print, you are better off with a CAD based software. Blender and other polygon based modeling is difficult to work on exact dimensions or to scale. You can get Fusion 360 with a hobbyists license, so it's free. It takes some digging around the Autodesk site since they would rather you pay for a subscription. There are also FreeCad and others out there, but might as well get a professional software if you can. Inventor is another option, but I find Fusion easier and their history timeline is better.

As far as scanning parts, it won't be as accurate as you think if you are trying to do some photoscanning. You're better off with some digital calipers. If the part you want to scan has some flat surfaces you can scan them on a regular scanner and import the images to trace, again, verify with calipers. But if the part is complex, you can still import a mesh into something like Blender and Fusion for the basic shape and remodel over the top of it.

It will take some trial and error to learn what tolerances to model in for printing, usually .1mm or so if parts are to fit inside each other. Although the parts can be sanded after if you wish for a prefect fit. Just print some test cubes and measure them.

Creality makes the best "budget" 3D printers. They have been around a long time and have a big following, so help is out there. You should be able to find slicing profiles online (the settings that tells the software how to print the part).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If you are going to model parts to 3D print, you are better off with a CAD based software. Blender and other polygon based modeling is difficult to work on exact dimensions or to scale. You can get Fusion 360 with a hobbyists license, so it's free. It takes some digging around the Autodesk site since they would rather you pay for a subscription. There are also FreeCad and others out there, but might as well get a professional software if you can. Inventor is another option, but I find Fusion easier and their history timeline is better.

As far as scanning parts, it won't be as accurate as you think if you are trying to do some photoscanning. You're better off with some digital calipers. If the part you want to scan has some flat surfaces you can scan them on a regular scanner and import the images to trace, again, verify with calipers. But if the part is complex, you can still import a mesh into something like Blender and Fusion for the basic shape and remodel over the top of it.

It will take some trial and error to learn what tolerances to model in for printing, usually .1mm or so if parts are to fit inside each other. Although the parts can be sanded after if you wish for a prefect fit. Just print some test cubes and measure them.

Creality makes the best "budget" 3D printers. They have been around a long time and have a big following, so help is out there. You should be able to find slicing profiles online (the settings that tells the software how to print the part).
Do you know if the LiDAR scanners built into high end smartphones are adequate for scanning things? Because my thought was it would be easier to justify an upgraded phone than another standalone device, at least for purposes of learning systems and prototyping parts I am thinking (hoping) it could be adequate.


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Do you know if the LiDAR scanners built into high end smartphones are adequate for scanning things? Because my thought was it would be easier to justify an upgraded phone than another standalone device, at least for purposes of learning systems and prototyping parts I am thinking (hoping) it could be adequate.
I'm no professional when it comes to 3D scanning, and I haven't worked with a phone scan model before, but from experience at my last job when they were scanning object (shoes, beer bottles, rings, etc.) with professional equipment, it still wasn't a perfect representation, we had to remodel everything. The smaller the object the harder it is to get an accurate model. Sure they look good when textures are overlaid, it looks like a real 3D shoe, but if you wanted to then 3D print that model it would be a bumpy mess.

Perhaps someone on here has more experience or can test it for you.
 

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I bought this one yesterday....now i guess its time to learn how to use it. I have a month before it arrives. :)
 
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Oh, and don't get hung up on expensive filaments, just get a brand that is readily available to you and stick with it. Sometimes different brands can print differently. Don't fall for negative reviews because 99% of the time it's user error with prints. I generally use Inland brand from MicroCenter, unless I'm looking for a specific color they don't offer, simply because I work next to a MicroCenter, so it's easy to stop by and pick some filament up.
 

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I bought this one yesterday....now i guess its time to learn how to use it. I have a month before it arrives. :)
I've been quite happy with how the mk3s works with little fuss -- it's an order of magnitude less fiddly than an old solidoodle 3. I've used it with a wide variety of PETG (and a bit of ABS and PLA) and never had any issues with any of those filaments as long as print settings are correct.

Larger ABS parts will require an enclosed build volume, and do be warned that the PETG the printer contains can get a bit soft and warp if your build volume is too hot.

Colorfabb HT does seem so far to be an easier to print alternative to ABS for that printer.
 

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Nice.
Learn about printing with ABS, you'll want to use that in a car environment over PLA plastics that have a lower melting temperature. YouTube will be your friend.
I would recommend looking into PETG over ABS. Nearly the same heat resistance, but much easier to print and no fumes to worry about.
 

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I would recommend looking into PETG over ABS. Nearly the same heat resistance, but much easier to print and no fumes to worry about.
I have a couple rolls of PETG laying around I could try.
When I print ABS, if it's warm out side I just put the printer in the garage, in the winter I put it in the basement because yeah, the fumes get bad on a long print. The pods I'm working on will probably be a 12 hour print.
I'm concerned because the pods are going to be right on the dash in the factory speaker locations, finished and painted black, they are going to be subject to a lot of heat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This is the one I am eying now. I think it should be sufficient for my needs. Going to wait a bit and play with the software, possibly try some scans with an upgraded iPhone and make sure I'm comfortable with that aspect of the technology before committing to any one specific printer.

 

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I'm not familiar with the R QIDI as a specific model; but in general --

* Be sure that the nozzle and related parts are fairly standard. For nozzles, that means e3D compatible.

* Be sure that the firmware has adjustments for the steppers on the extruder and the heating elements PID functions. Hopefully it'll come pre-tuned well enough that you don't have to mess with it, but if you later want to try something new, having adjustability is better than not having it.

• Be sure that you can fit larger nozzle sizes to it. Small diameter nozzles make for good detail, but for a lot of stuff detail isn't needed, speed of printing and strength of the resultant part is. Larger extrusion sizes are both faster to lay down and stronger. A machine that can handle an e3D Volcano or SuperVolcano would be great for making stuff like speaker pods, for example. On the other hand; if you are wanting to do super detailed stuff like tabletop gaming figurines (custom WH40K pieces, for example) you might wish to look into a liquid-resin based SLA printer.

* ABS and many (but not all) liquid resin formulas stink; but they also don't like being without environmental control (i.e, HVAC). Factor this into where you intend to set up the machine.

• As mentioned earlier in the thread, PLA doesn't stink and is pretty much nontoxic (at least, the plastic itself is - any particular filaments additives & pigments may not be)... but... it has a rather low melting point; so it shouldn't be used for parts that could be left in a car. PETG is low-odor, relatively innocuous chemically, has decent temperature tolerance, and isn't too hard to get to print well. It's what I use in my printer. However, PETG is a little bit softer at room temperature than PLA is, which feels quite rigid when you tap your fingernails on it.

* Most 3D printers take job files on micro-SD cards. Make sure you have a couple on hand, along with micro-to-standard SD adapters (which often comes with the card for free). Cheap, small ones work OK - the actual job files aren't very large, and the flash storage is far, far faster than the speed of the print head. Also, make sure you've got a card reader that's convenient to use. The built-in one on my MacBook Pro works just fine for me, but the one on my iMac is a pain because it's on the back of the machine (seriously, Apple, what were you thinking?) -- so I got a cheap USB one that sits on my desk.

• I too use Fusion 3D for technical parts design. Works OK, noncommercial license is (as note earlier by other posters) free.

• If you are looking more to do artistic work, then Blender is a good free option. Be sure to get a Wacom tablet, as you will want to use it's digital sculpting engine.

• Subscribe to some YouTube channels: Maker's Muse, Thomas Sanladerer, and CNC Kitchen are all great ones, but there are many others. Expect to spend a lot of time watching videos... they're addictive, inspiring, and informative!

I also agree with these lists for Blender and Fusion360:

• In addition to the 3D scanner of the new iPhones, you might want to look into photogrammetry software. I haven't personally used it, so I don't know how well it performs, but... Regard3D is both free/open-source and runs on a Mac. Home

There's a ton more to this field, but this post is longer than I intended anyway, so....


:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'm not familiar with the R QIDI as a specific model; but in general --

* Be sure that the nozzle and related parts are fairly standard. For nozzles, that means e3D compatible.

* Be sure that the firmware has adjustments for the steppers on the extruder and the heating elements PID functions. Hopefully it'll come pre-tuned well enough that you don't have to mess with it, but if you later want to try something new, having adjustability is better than not having it.

• Be sure that you can fit larger nozzle sizes to it. Small diameter nozzles make for good detail, but for a lot of stuff detail isn't needed, speed of printing and strength of the resultant part is. Larger extrusion sizes are both faster to lay down and stronger. A machine that can handle an e3D Volcano or SuperVolcano would be great for making stuff like speaker pods, for example. On the other hand; if you are wanting to do super detailed stuff like tabletop gaming figurines (custom WH40K pieces, for example) you might wish to look into a liquid-resin based SLA printer.

* ABS and many (but not all) liquid resin formulas stink; but they also don't like being without environmental control (i.e, HVAC). Factor this into where you intend to set up the machine.

• As mentioned earlier in the thread, PLA doesn't stink and is pretty much nontoxic (at least, the plastic itself is - any particular filaments additives & pigments may not be)... but... it has a rather low melting point; so it shouldn't be used for parts that could be left in a car. PETG is low-odor, relatively innocuous chemically, has decent temperature tolerance, and isn't too hard to get to print well. It's what I use in my printer. However, PETG is a little bit softer at room temperature than PLA is, which feels quite rigid when you tap your fingernails on it.

* Most 3D printers take job files on micro-SD cards. Make sure you have a couple on hand, along with micro-to-standard SD adapters (which often comes with the card for free). Cheap, small ones work OK - the actual job files aren't very large, and the flash storage is far, far faster than the speed of the print head. Also, make sure you've got a card reader that's convenient to use. The built-in one on my MacBook Pro works just fine for me, but the one on my iMac is a pain because it's on the back of the machine (seriously, Apple, what were you thinking?) -- so I got a cheap USB one that sits on my desk.

• I too use Fusion 3D for technical parts design. Works OK, noncommercial license is (as note earlier by other posters) free.

• If you are looking more to do artistic work, then Blender is a good free option. Be sure to get a Wacom tablet, as you will want to use it's digital sculpting engine.

• Subscribe to some YouTube channels: Maker's Muse, Thomas Sanladerer, and CNC Kitchen are all great ones, but there are many others. Expect to spend a lot of time watching videos... they're addictive, inspiring, and informative!

I also agree with these lists for Blender and Fusion360:

• In addition to the 3D scanner of the new iPhones, you might want to look into photogrammetry software. I haven't personally used it, so I don't know how well it performs, but... Regard3D is both free/open-source and runs on a Mac. Home

There's a ton more to this field, but this post is longer than I intended anyway, so....


:)
Great feedback, I will save this checklist for when it comes time to purchase. Working on insulating the garage soon and adding a mini-split, so I will have conditioned space, but will retain the vent fan so I can run that if the printer stinks up the place too much. I kind of doubt the wifey will allow this thing to live in the house, so I'll just start in the workshop rather than find out...

Ideally I would like to be able to run both smaller and larger nozzles, for example, I may need to print speaker adapter rings (I've gotten tired of the MDF + router + deck stain approach), which would certainly benefit from extra print speed and strength. I'd also like to be able to print parts that are detailed/smooth enough to easily sand down and use in visible areas, but I'm not entirely sure a resin printer is in the cards. Not ruling it out, but it would need to be a do-everything printer and ideally come in under $650 or so. I want the machine to pay for itself quickly!
 

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For that brand you picked, make sure there are forums where people talk about them and have tips in case you have issues. Make sure there is support from the manufacture, etc. A lot of 3D printers are open source, so someone can take a design, copy it and resell it. If they go cheap or improve things is up to them. There are a lot of printers that look the same and use the same basic construction, so look more into the parts and support side of them, don't just trust Amazon reviews.

There is no need to go crazy in the garage for the printer (unless you're just into that). If it's room temperature in there you'll be fine. If you are printing with ABS the keep is keeping the print hot and letting it cool slowly after it's done printing. ABS shrinks more than PLA (it's not considerable, but enough to warp a print or have it release from the bed). Your printer is enclosed and that's all you need. you can even cover a non-enclosed printer with a cardboard box or foam board to keep the heat in.

Your main issue is going to be keeping the dust out of the printer. You want to keep the bearings and belts clean, dust off of the filament which could cause a clog in the nozzle, and dust off the print bed so things will stick. Even in the house I cover my printers with an old sheet when not in use.

Filament takes a lot of work to sand to a smooth finish. You can't use power tools because it could cause too much heat and melt the plastic again. Best bet is to sand it by hand to knock off the high spots and use a lot of sandable filler primer spray paint, sanding between coats until it's smooth. Use body filler if needed.

You'll be surprised on how versatile the standard .4mm nozzle is. Going up to .8 or 1mm will generate parts faster and will work for speaker rings, but if it's something you're going to finish, the .4 nozzle will get you a cleaner start.
 
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