I wanted to start a separate thread to discuss and document my journey through 3D printer land. I have been an AutoCAD user since 2001 - sadly, I still run AutoCAD 2002. I am very familiar with the solids modeling approach, especially in AutoCAD 2002. Using old school AutoCAD I can draw a lot of different things with enough time and motivation (I was even able to extrude technically correct threads at one time) - but it does not, to my knowledge, support newfangled file formats like STL. Nor, for that matter, do the 3D models generated in old school AutoCAD support correct tool paths etc.
After seeing Brian RIcher's extremely cost effective 3D printed cabinets for his Overnight Sensations, it lit a fire under my ass and I immediately requested and received permission to order a printer of my own.
So I ordered this Monday morning, along with a few spools of cheap PLA and an odd accessory or two:https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074QLQSQV/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Grand total came to under $700 for enough materials to print two bookshelf cabinets. Wait, what? Cost effective? How can that be? Well - my table saw originally retailed for over $1000, and I challenge anyone to build a pair of cabinets with complex curves and ready to go for the $30 in material and 70hrs that it took for Brian to print his pair. Time is money, and when you no longer enjoy making sawdust and your skill set in the woodshop makes it difficult to produce the kind of baffle geometry that I believe is required for next-level speaker systems... Plus, the 70 hours to build the cabinets are effectively free-time as the printers do the majority of the labor. I am not seeing how I, as a very lazy man, can lose by offloading the bulk of the labor involved in building a cabinet to a robot. In fact, that was essentially my bread and butter for the majority of the last fifteen years anyways.
Anywhoo, since I am in need of CAD software that will allow me to produce correct STL files and I am in need of software that will assemble those STL files into printable objects, I started doing some research.
I am hesitant to use any of Autodesk's products, but will not rule them out. I learned Inventor years ago, and found it to be astonishingly difficult compared to some of the other alternatives - although it was extremely powerful and those that have a knack for it really made it sing.
I downloaded and installed something called "FreeCAD" today - I am going to commit to learning it as it is multi-platform, meaning at some point in the near future I will be transitioning to Linux for the majority of my PC work. It appears relatively full-featured, but will present a learning curve for me as I am very used to subtractive/additive solid modeling in AutoCAD. I imagine regardless of what software I pursue I will be presented with that challenge.
Based on some research, I opted to purchase a license for Simplify3D. It allegedly prepares the model for optimal printing etc, and is not really expensive compared to most 3D modeling software.
I am not necessarily here to solicit opinions on software, however, so much as to just get a conversation going about 3D printing in general. I have noticed over the years, listening to various commercial and DIY designs, including my Vermillions, that there is a significant benefit to a specific type of baffle treatment. The specific type of geometry I want to begin implementing cannot be done within the constraints of my time and talent limitations.
In addition, I imagine all sorts of goodies coming off the printer not necessarily related to DIY audio.
I do not plan to use primarily PLA in the future, but it is extremely cost effective and I do plan on fucking up more than once during the process. Eventually, however, I do plan on attaining a high proficiency level in both 3D modeling and printing so I am looking forward to that.
I have a signature.