From a Newbie: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

One Fuddy-Duddy perspective… I’m new to 3D printing, a 1 year laser engraver/cutter user, and almost 60 year woodworker for which CNC is second nature (almost). A Bakers’ Dozen off “just gotta know”.

  1. This is a fabulously designed/built product; in that small 1/2 dozen companies I truly admire. A- (95-96%). Following could help get to A+!(99-100%)

  2. Really need a simple pub explaining every option in SM-Luban, why I should care, what happens when I change them, and how each factor effects each of the common filament types.

  3. 3D printings; anyone recommend to me a single source book, site, etc that fully explains at the newbie level most aspects/considerations of 3D printing. For others the same recommendation for laser and CNC would likely be welcome.

  4. Glass top over top heat base? Type of glass? thickness? heat treated? Attach with binder clips?

  5. Best ways and all that is included in discussion threads to clean 3D pads? Does heating help?

  6. Suggest SM identify and team with a great filament seller and wangle their members a 10% discount and free shipping on orders of $XY or more… everyone wins.

  7. Enclosure… love it; but need better use guidance including detailed steps to update Firmware (explain why).

  8. Start a drop site where users can propose questions and info regarding any of this software and hardware WITH SM assurance they will read each one and if prudent, include in monthly manual updates.

  9. A little more in what not to embrace/cut in laser that could explode and maximum size of lockers.

  10. Electric chord from control head to 3D printer is a little tight/short, crosses (rubs) filament, etc. some sort of spring arm above x-axis and a longer chord should be considered.

  11. Either a filament retaining ring (like the electrical chief retaining ring) for the filament in the left tower would limit filament cruising to of X-axis and left Y-tower. In an enclosure, a ceiling ring just forward of the X-axis arm/head and 1/3 of the distance to the left of center to route the filament through could resolve generous potential problems.

  12. Consider packaging a Eufy Security camera (Remote control) and a Google, Seri, activated 110v switch; monitor printing even while remote and a quick turn off to avoid wasting filament.

  13. Recommendations best 3D AND 2D Graphics software to use for all 3 uses; obtain discounted price for SM users.

… and then he rested.

  1. I started with a couple of books from Make: (Make: 3D Printing and Make: Design for 3D Printing) that I obtained from Humble Bundle. A couple of times a year, one of Humble’s book bundles will offer materials on 3D printing and CNC very cheaply. Keep in mind that no book will be using Luban as its example software, which may confuse some people.

While it isn’t exactly a beginner’s book, I’ve also found Functional Design for 3D Printing: Designing 3d printed things for everyday use useful, although the way the book’s put together makes it look amateurish.

(Anyone have a good website to offer?)

  1. The catch here is that any filament seller Snapmaker teams up with will probably be Chinese. There’s nothing innately wrong with that if you can wait a month or more for your filament to reach you, but personally, I’m looking for a filament supplier within my own country.
  1. I think someone posted this page in this forum a long time ago: It remains the most useful quick reference on what not to cut with a laser and why that I’ve found so far.
  1. “Best” is a highly subjective thing. Best for what combination of purpose and user? It’s possible to make lists of the available software, what OSs it’s available for, where to get it, and how it rates in the categories of cost, user friendliness, and feature comprehensiveness, and in fact this would probably make a good forum sticky, but picking a single “best” program is doomed to failure. Just as an example, Blender has the perfect price point for a 3D subdivision modeler (free) and a comprehensive set of features, but the last time I tried to use it, it was rather user-hostile, and depending on what you’re trying to model, you might be better off with something more CAD-oriented anyway.

In your debt… you sir have given me just the type of materials I sought… well, with one exception. Courage, (#13). You have a “best” in mind or maybe two. Give disclaimers but don’t hesitate to share. I’ll give one: Affinity Designer: $50 for the MacOS and $20 for the iPad/iPhone (one-time price, not a subscription) ONLY FOR 2D. But for 2D design with robust layer capability, it is about the most capable design/export in a number of formats software for under the several hundred dollars of the Corel Draw, Rhinoceros, SketchUp, Illustrator, etc., etc. Not overly easy, but much easier than most of the others to learn. Multiple platform capability (desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone) is one of its best features. Outputs to the ever-important .svg format required by many standard devices.

That’s why I said it was subjective. I’m a Linux user, so “runs natively on Linux” and “can be installed from my distro’s package repository (or an overlay)” are very important factors for me when I evaluate software. This means in turn that most of the software I use is open-source, desktop-native, and not terribly polished in appearance. Mobile support is not a priority for me, since I’m rarely far from my desktop.

For SVG editing, I typically use Inkscape ( ), which uses a .svg variant as its standard file format. It’s available for all major desktop operating systems (not sure about mobile), free, and has enough features to be used for light professional graphics work. After more than a decade of on-and-off use, it’s difficult for me to be objective about its interface. It’s probably overkill for working with the Snapmaker, for the same reasons that Adobe Illustrator would be overkill.

The few actual 3D models I’ve created for printing so far (as opposed to swiping from Thingiverse) have been done in OpenScad ( ), which is a 2D/3D CAD program with an odd interface. It’s free, open-source, multi-platform, and quite capable . . . but the user interface was clearly written by programmers, for programmers, and operates by typing commands rather than clicking around with a mouse. Other users on the lookout for an open-source CAD software solution may have a better time with FreeCAD ( ), which I’ve installed but not played with yet. It appears to have a more conventional (but large and complex) interface. These programs are intended as replacements for pro-grade software like SolidWorks or AutoCAD, so they’re capable, but not user-friendly. (I seem to be developing a theme here . . .)

CAD programs are intended for modelling mechanical and geometric objects. If you’re looking to model sculptures or other freeform objects, you want a mesh editor. Blender, which I mentioned in my previous post, is the most-used open-source software package for this purpose (again, free, multi-platform . . .), but its user interface is large, complex, and ugly, and it has many features that aren’t needed to produce models for a 3D printer. Wings3D ( ) seems to be smaller and more user-friendly, but again, I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet. There are also programs like Makehuman that specialize in creating one specific type of 3D model.

That’s the software universe I live in, populated by large, heavy programs that mostly use too many CPU and GPU cycles to work well on mobile devices. Make of it what you will.

Now THAT sir is extremely helpful. Helpful to me (you’ve racked two apps I want to look at) and hopefully for others. Share your knowledge and judgments. Worst case, your wrong. There are entire governments that excel at that. But I’m betting you will help/inspire a lot. I want subjective… everyone’s adds say they are heaven sent, generally they are not. E.g., I love (no, LOVE) SketchUp. But it’s priced right out of the market. An A product of F value. Pure judgment, but I’ve saved someone cycles on a tight budget. You, unlike me, clearly know what you are talking about. I can back you up on Inkscape… exactly as you described. But that awkward, non-logical GUI makes it unusable to me. You rely on it; I won’t touch it (anymore); and we are both taking the same product. It’s these thoughts that might help someone.