3D Printing Resources for Beginners

This video, Massimo Banzi: How Arduino is open-sourcing imagination was filmed in June of 2012 and it was one my first introductions to 3D printing. I heard about it on NPR that same month when Ira Flatow said, Can 3D Printers Reshape The World?. Since then I have learned a lot more, but I’m barely scraping the surface. I’m a newbie and this post is for beginners like me looking for pathways into the 3D printing world. So to start, I’ll start you where I started, with this video:

Here are some links and information included in the video:

  • Thingiverse – now “MakerBot Thingiverse” – a place for you to share your digital designs.
  • Arduino – an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
  • Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design – An international centre of excellence for interaction design and innovation; seems to have replaced Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.
  • Creative Commons License – copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates.
  • GNU General Public License (GPL) – The GNU General Public License is a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works.
  • Android (Google) Accessory Development Kit (ADK) – a reference implementation for hardware manufacturers and hobbyists to use as a starting point for building accessories for Android.

So it turns out that that video, while it mentions 3D printing in the beginning, has more to do with the Maker revolution. Here’s some 3D printing resources I collected:

What software should I use if I’m a beginner in 3D design?

  • Google provides a free, easy to use application called Google Sketchup. This tool allows you to design everything you want in 3D, through an intuitive interface, and offers free 3D models for download.
  • Wings 3D is another free 3D application; the website has a forum, which is very useful to find answers to all your questions.
  • Blender is available for free, but targets a more experienced audience.
  • Newcomer Sculptris works like you are sculpting directly from clay.
  • Make Human is a free specialized in human body 3D designs and lets you play with all body and face details. Amazing!
  • (versions compatible with Sculpteo for 3D printing: “Nightly Build” or v. 0.9.1).
  • GLC Player is a free application which allows you to easily view 3D models. It’s lighter than regular modelling software so comes in handy when you just need to quickly check a 3D model before uploading it to sculpteo.com (are the materials properly linked to the model ? Are the textures in the right place? Has the model changed before and after the export?). GLC Player also lets you categorize 3D models into albums (like you would with a photo album).
  • 3D Model to Print (3DMTP) – A revolutionary cloud-based software service, focused on 3D architectural models. 3DMTP automatically, efficiently and economically transforms 3D designs, from BIM, 3D CAD, SketchUp software and other 3D visualization software into scalable and 3D printable model files.
  • Online Service
  • 3D Tin – A free browser-based CAD editor. Perfect for beginners and young makers, but with a growing list of advanced features attracting professional 3D artists as well.
  • Autodesk 123D – Free, fun, easy to use apps to take you from photos to modeling to making.

What 3D printing services are available?

  • Shapeways – a 3D Printing marketplace and community.
  • Sculpteo – Innovative 3D printing service for creative people – great FAQ with lots of resources

What 3D printers are available?

Are there any other 3D printing guides?

  • MAKE Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing

Other Free Design Software:

  • Dia – Diagramming tool like Microsoft Visio
  • Auto CAD trial (CD or Download)
  • Smart Draw

I recently identified 3D printing as one of the 13 Trends That Are Changing the World and will soon be writing up a list of 10 Ways to Make Money from 3D Printing.

Friendly Professionals

I want to focus on what we actually do and what we are good at. We aren’t really a web design shop, we are a WordPress design shop so that is what I want to focus on. We aren’t selling WordPress designs though, we are selling web site interactivity – the ability for a user to login and change content – essentially BlueBoards and BlueMessenger is now the core product, but we are just being more transparent in saying that we are selling WordPress installations which will allow for that functionality. We won’t have to hide that we are using WordPress, we can promote it because its well supported and adopted.

Second, since we are selling the ability to edit their own website, we will also be selling the ability to manage their own email using Google Apps. This is secondary, but it falls into the primary selling point – control. We give the customers control of their website and their email, something they may have felt powerless to control in the past.

We are also FRIENDLY PROFESSIONALS. That is who we are as people and in every business capacity we serve in from Telablue to Neighborhood Geeks. That is what sets us apart from the competition in this world.

Telablue is a WordPress implementation shop serving the greater Indianapolis area. We specialize in developing web sites for WordPress using professional web design techniques. WordPress is an open source, fully supported content management system (CMS) that was originally developed for blogs, but can be used for almost anything. We chose WordPress because it allows our clients to manage their own content if they so choose, not to mention all the built-in functionality like search and RSS.

Another one of WordPress’ greatest features is the ability to add software called plug-ins that add functionality for SEO, web forms, or social media, just to name a few examples. And for those who stay up at night worrying, WordPress has backup tools and we at Telablue use international web port monitoring to make sure your web site is up at all times.

If you are unsatisfied with your current web designer, want more functionality and visitors, or are looking to get started online for the first time, let us show you how friendly, personable, and professional we can be. We can setup a tour of WordPress and go over your needs. The first consultation is free. New web sites start at $1200 for base design and implementation. Existing web sites can be ported to WordPress for as little as $600. Hosting starts at $125 a year and marketing packages start at $150 a month.

NOTE: Telablue Web Design and SEO was an Indianapolis-area based, WordPress shop, specializing in developing user-editable WordPress themes and templates or transferring current web sites to WordPress installations. It was converted to Watershawl in 2010 and now operates as “Erich Stauffer”.

How to be a Stud in Geekdom

I was reading an article in WIRED magazine about Open-Source Hardware and how it is the newest trend to hit the open source market. It was mostly about the Arduino circuit boards, but towards the end began to mention David Rowe. I hadn’t remembered hearing his name before, but thought I may have used his products or been introduced to them in the past. A quick Google search and I am staring at this minimalist, humble-as-pie, mac daddy of projects. Check out this list:

Current Projects

  1. Free Telephony Project: Free (as in speech) hardware and software for embedded telephony. My particular interest is using this technology to help people in the developing world through low cost community owned telephone networks.
  2. The Mesh Potato: The Mesh Potato is a 802.11bg mesh router with a single FXS port. Adjacent mesh potatoes automatically form a peer-peer network, relaying telephone calls through a community without land lines or cell phone towers. The Mesh Potato is designed using open hardware and open software and is part of the Village Telco project.
  3. Open Source Line Echo Canceler: A popular high quality line echo canceler for Asterisk that is free as in speech. Works with any Zaptel-compatible hardware, from humble X100Ps to multiple PRIs. Removes the need for expensive “hardware” echo cancellation.
  4. Electric Car: I have converted a Daihatsu Charade to run purely on electricity. Estimated range of 50km, 130 km/hr top speed, 144V at 300A peak, and no more fuel bills ever again! Here is the evalbum entry and some slides from a presentation I made at Linux SA.
  5. Peak Oil: I spend a lot of time researching this subject. IMHO the biggest challenge facing the world today – bigger than climate change.

Previous and Inactive Projects

I don’t have the time for these right now but would love to see them move forward – please contact me if you are interested.

  1. WiSPCaR: Wifi Station Power Controller And Reporter. A PIC micro-controller gadget using to monitor solar powered remote Wifi stations. Parts cost is around $2!
  2. Low Cost IT for The Blind: The Louder Router is a $200 talking computer for the blind, built around free software and commodity routers.
  3. $10 ATA Project: Cheap telephony for the developing world using a novel $10 Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) design and commodity routers.
  4. gEDA gschem/PCB: Perl Scripts for the free gEDA/PCB CAD tools, e.g. automatic updating of PCB footprints, and improved component dragging.

This list inspired me to coin the term, “Stud in Geekdom”. Geeks who read this understand that this a) not easy stuff, b) is beneficial and useful, and c) varies in specialties, something that not everyone can do. Every once in a while I run across people like this and from now on I will start to track them as Studs in Geekdom.

If anyone has anyone, guy or girl, they would like to recommend for this honor, please post it in the comments.