Category Archives: 3D Printing

Best tutorial on learning to use Fusion 360

Computer aided design (CAD) tools like Autodesk Inventor or Solidworks – are difficult to learn to use.

Most available online tutorials are out of date as the software is updated annually – and you’ll quickly get stuck, with no where to go for help.

Products such as Inventor and SolidWorks are priced for professional engineering firms – with licenses costing thousands of (US) dollars per year per “seat”. Not something hobbyists can use!

For hobbyist use, you should check out the Educational license for Fusion 360 or the freely available DesignSpark.

With Fusion 360, I also quickly ran into the gotchas of learning CAD software and got stuck.

With much relief, I found Paul McWhorter’s outstanding Youtube tutorials on Fusion 360. Start here!

Right out of the gate, he recognizes the places new learners get stuck and smooths out those challenges right in the first lessons.

Paul is very calm, patient and mild mannered in his presentations. They are great. He also has extensive tutorials on Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Sketchup and other topics.

I had to look a bit online to find out about his background as he doesn’t say much about it. He is a retired research scientist/engineer, inventor, author of numerous top ranked research papers, executive management at a national laboratory (at which my late father-in-law worked as an electrical engineer), and co founder of a Silicon Valley tech company. Apparently he gets bored easily as he now teaches high school math too. He’s awesome – thank you Paul for all you have done!

Oddly enough, the very first video of his I saw was a video on how to protect home raised chickens from predators! Yeah, his several channels cover a wide range of topics!

Finally doing my own #3DPrinting

I finally got around to getting my own 3D printer and its cool.

My first steps were to print the objects provided by the vendor, to verify that it was set up correctly.

Next, I downloaded an item from Thingiverse and printed that out fine. At this point, I’d used up the small amount of filament that came with the printer and changed to an actual filament reel.

However, I did not get back to using the 3D printer for a couple of days due to other obligations on my time.

Next up was to design a simple item in CAD software. The design was fine but when I loaded it into the slicer software, it had shrunk! After going back and forth a bit, I realized that I’d started the CAD design using English (inches) measurements but specified some of the items in millimeters. Somewhere, some how, the CAD software managed to output the STL file storing my 68.5 mm as 6.9 mm – meaning my item had shrunk by a factor of 10!

The solution was to correctly set up the CAD software for metric from the start.

Next up, I found that my X-plane axis was 90 degrees rotated from the X-plane in the slicer. Took me a bit to figure out how to rotate my part so that the bottom would be downwards on the 3D printer bed.

My first attempt to print failed – well, it started out okay but then after after awhile the filament stopped adhering to the bed.

Again, I had to study this for a bit and then eventually realized my test prints were done with PLA filament and the reel I’d put on a couple days ago was ABS. The problem was I had the print head and bed temperatures set for PLA and not for ABS!

Got that fixed and finally got my 3D print done. Good news, the part – a replacement for something I’d lost – fits just fine. Slightly bad news, but expected: I need to make parts of it a little thicker to make it sturdier. But that’s okay, progress was made!

Part of my reason for getting a 3D printer has been to learn CAD and to learn the intricacies of 3D printing. Each of these little booboos become a learning experience for me.

Therefore, I think everything is going great!

Data files describing 3D-Printed Guns are not “free speech”, says Court

If I understand this, the Court is saying that technical descriptions of “something” are not considered “free speech”. That could have implications for the government restricting software development (such as cryptography or e-commerce or e-medicine) or the 3D printing specification files for any number of items that the government decides it does not want us to share.

According to a landmark court ruling handed down this week, citing national security

Source: 3D-Printed Gun Files Aren’t Free Speech, Court Rules | Popular Science

Additive Manufacturing (aka 3D Printing) poised for industrial applications and growth

The key take away is that “additive manufacturing” is moving from the rapid prototyping of parts stage into a new kind of manufacturing.

Source: The Additive Manufacturing/3D World: Vast And Valuable (Part 1) | Seeking Alpha