Spent the day on the computer figuring and scheming... Hate days like this because it feels like I didn't get anything done. In reallity, I think I got quite a lot figured out today in preparation for a 3D printer. Since Sketchup is free, I teach it to my Tech and Design students. It's not the greatest for all situations but its easy to learn and quite powerful. Unfortunately, you can't build a model and click "Print 3D". Theres quite a process, so with a lot of help from several other sources, here's what I came up with.
Please keep in mind if you choose to follow this information you do so at your own risk... I do NOT yet have a 3D printer so this is all *theoretical* for me at this point. There also appear to be several places where actual printer settings would need to be set, which I can't verify yet...
First thing you need is Trimble Sketchup, available here for FREE: http://www.sketchup.com/
You will also need an .stl exporter script. I used one from Github, also FREE: https://github.com/SketchUp/sketchup-stl
Once you have Sketchup installed with an .stl exporter, make something! Here's the widget I made. Once you have a model, simply click File/Export STL and your done.
Download and instal Netfabb, also FREE: http://www.netfabb.com/basic.php
Open the software and open your .stl model. Click on "Repair" (the red cross) and then save the file.
Download Slic3r, also FREE: http://slic3r.org/download
No need to install, once you unzip the folder you just have to open it and away it goes. Open the repaired .stl file in this program, and then click export gcode.
If you want, you can view the gcode by simply opening it with a word program like this:
Gcode! Been a looong time since I've seen any of that!
Download and install "Printrun" or Pronterface, also FREE: https://github.com/kliment/Printrun#readme
Open Pronterface and open the gcode file, and that's pretty much it! There appear to be several settings here and I'm assuming the "Print" button is shaded out because I don't have a printer plugged in.
Looks like it gives you all kinds of useful info- temps of nozzle and bed, estimated amount of filament used, etc..
There you go. I would love to hear if this works for anyone or if anyone has another free easier method, lets hear that too!
Even though I didn't get anything physical done (unless you count 3 loads of laundry) I did get this figured out and sourced all of the printer parts. Hoping to order the first set of parts next week if I can get it okayed but I'll be roughly $200 shy of having enough to get the entire thing this school year. *Sigh*
Best of luck - I'm hoping you get it set up soon and will be very excited when you do! I'll come and take pictures!
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