How did you learn to use your printer?

Following up on my last post, I’m curious how everyone on here got to where they are in terms of their understanding of their printers. I’ve tried to use the manual, in addition to videos on YouTube, but I’m one of those people who tends to learn best by doing things hands-on with someone who’s more knowledgeable guiding me. So, how about the rest of you?

I started by using the 3D printers in my local library’s Makerspace. I had to attend a class to get “badged” to use their printers. During open hours there was an “expert” on hand to answer any questions but the class was a pretty good starting point.

When I got to the point where the open hours weren’t sufficient to finish my prints, I had two choices. Submit them to the library to be printed “off hours” (with a 3 month backlog) or buy my own printer. I decided not to wait that long and bought my own.

These forums, the LulzBot support team, and a lot of “googling” got me through the beginner phase. There are some books (and eBooks) published that could be useful. I read one or two on my Kindle.

I borrowed a friend’s when he was on the road (Brand new Mini Classic). After a couple of weeks of goofing with it, it broke. So broke he had to send it back to Lulzbot, but they fixed it. So when I came into some money (wife didn’t like my motorcycle anymore, so I sold it) I bought what was then a very early Taz 6. And have been monkeying with it as I have time since then. I have learned a lot of hard lessons.

  1. Don’t take your extruder apart, it’s a lot harder to put back together than it looks (anyone want a Taz 6 extruder almost brand new?)
  2. Don’t buy cheap filament, it’s not a good deal it if raises your blood-pressure to stoke levels (plus you probably won’t get any worthwhile prints with it).
  3. Use good models to print. I’ve downloaded a few that didn’t look right and Cura did it’s best, but never printed right. Sometimes its the object, not you and not your printer. Make sure others can print the object before you start beating on your printer.
  4. It is going to take a long time (and I don’t just mean that prints will take forever). I don’t do this every day, I play with my printer every-so-often. I keep a journal (text files mostly) of what I have learned and what I still want to try. I have found that once in a while I will go back and realize I just learned something I already knew a couple of years ago.
  5. Most importantly and in order (I think) … Trial and error, This Board and the Internet.

I should have added that one of the biggest reasons I bought a Lulzbot was because when I broke my friends (it was actually a defect, but I thought I had broken it). I called Lulzbot on a Saturday and got an English Speaking human on the 3rd ring. He wasn’t able to fix my problem but he was able to tell me that it needed to be send back and that it wouldn’t cost me anything. Great customer service, I hope you all have the same experience.

I bought a cheap 3D printer as a Kickstarter. Struggled to get it to print well for about 2 years, but finally gave up. Purchased a Mini 1.4 and have been printing ever sense. I’ve spend a lot of time reading this forum and asking questions. I work 2nd shift so I can’t make it to most local Makespace events. I think b-morgan’s to do such is a good idea. You can learn on your own, its just takes longer. It may be a little more expensive as you found out. I damaged my first surface and the bearings on by build plate doing it wrong. On the plus side I changed the bearings and put new surface on my build plate myself.

A similar path for me as well. I found my local library and local makerspace had them available. The cheapest option was the library. I had the hopes of making (or buying my own 3d printer). My very first part printed was the large gear on the lulzbot mini. It was awesome watching a machine make a part for itself!

After that i brushed off my old solidworks skills and tested various parts at the library and makerspace. I eventually used 3D hubs service to print the parts i needed and purchased the remaining mechanical and electrical hardware and built my own Lulzbot mini from scratch. It still has the original crappy wiring, but it is still functional today. I learned by doing and many many mistakes. and many times breaking my printer or clogging it. Then by digging in cura’s advanced settings.