I would like to begin designing and 3D printing propellers for both a toy airplane and drone that I own. I want to do this for experimental purposes.

I have never used a 3D printer nor have I used any 3D printing design software. So as a beginner to both of these things, I would like to know what would be the best type of 3D printer to use to create propellers for toy aircraft and I would like to know what is currently regarded as the easiest-to-use 3D design software for creating objects such as airfoils.

Also, at this time, the most I want to pay for a 3D printer is $500.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because shopping and recommendation questions without a very narrow scope are out of the scope of any Stack Exchange $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Jun 5 '19 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ The 3d printer is irrelevant here. What you're asking is 'how to use CAD programs' , and even that is a small part of the problem. You can easily design a propellor that works, but if you want it efficient and low-noise, then you need a lot of knowledge about fluid dynamics. $\endgroup$ Jun 6 '19 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ Hi HRIATEXP and welcome to SE.3DP..! Unfortunately your question has been closed as both a [shopping] recommendation and for being too broad. However, it won't get auto-deleted as it has some up votes. In future try to ask questions that are specific to one particular issue. You can join us in 3D Printing Chat, have a look at the on-topic page (although that is in a state of flux) and don't forget to take the tour. Thanks :-) $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Jun 7 '19 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ Thingiverse.com has a bunch of propellers you can download and print. Choice of printer varies from kits you need to assemble, a great way to learn what's really involved, to more expensive ready to go systems. $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Jun 19 '19 at 17:29

First, welcome to 3D Printing SE. This is a great place to ask questions and get answers from people who have walked the same path. I see from your profile that you are not a stranger to StackExchange and the available sites.

This question may be too broad for this SE Group, as it is asking for opinions rather than facts. We try not to ask questions about "what is the best printer", or "what software is the best". We avoid it both because it will change frequently, and because the answer needs to be gauged in your context, not the answerer's. We have some tools and community guidelines that suggest how to formulate the best questions.

Never-the-less, it is very hard when starting to even know how to make the first step, so with the indulgence of the group and your patience, I will make a suggestion or two. These come from my experience and your's is surely different.

To try out 3D printers you may have resources the don't require buying one yourself. It doesn't seem that 3D printing is the end goal for you. You want to use 3D printing as a way to manufacture several experiments. To access a 3D printer, it could be productive to check for local makerspaces, public libraries, or high schools with 3D printing capability. You may find a friend you 3D prints who would be happy to run some objects for you. You might even find it cost-effective to send designs to a service bureau such as 3D Hubs. Note: I have no relationship with the company, although I did use their services once.

With the printing side temporarily in abeyance, you can focus attention on the design side.

If you are familiar with programming, you might be able to use either OpenSCAD or SolidPython as a design tool. If you want something graphical, it might be worth trying OnShape. NOTE: I know at least one of the founders of OnShape, but have no investment nor role in the company. There are many design tools available. For designing technical parts, I think you want tools more focused on technical than aesthetic content.

I would avoid purchasing a printer unless you want 3D printing and 3D printers to be part of your project. People have mixed stories with many brands of printer, and lower-cost printers often become projects in themselves. They can be satisfying, rewarding, and learning-driven projects, but can distract you from your prime intention for a long time. In my case, I wanted to print boxes for projects, and prototypes for larger wood carvings. I designed a printer, acquired materials, built it, and spent 3 years playing with it. Along the way, I made some useful prints. Eventually I was tired of not having a reliable 3D printer, and I wanted to reliably make things. I needed a printing appliance. So I bought a mid-range printer (which works very well for me), and I don't mess with it (much).

So, a broad answer in response to a broad question. Welcome to 3D printing, the hobby and the StackExchange site.

  • $\begingroup$ thanks for those suggestions. Now that I think of it, it would be a good idea to first learn how to use design tools/software and then send my propeller designs to someone, or some 3d printing service, that will 3d print my propellers and then ship those to me. $\endgroup$
    – user16674
    Jun 5 '19 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ I'll second the learning to design aspect of your quest. It will be the most productive use of your time and effort, in my opinion. Consider also to search for makerspaces in your area, which will have members to print for you and possibly advise for your design goals. There are as many design programs available to the common man as there are 3D printers. $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Jun 5 '19 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ At the current price you can get a decent 3D printer ($200 or less), making trips back and forth to a maker space for each round of prototyping really doesn't make sense unless you're operating on an extremely tight budget. IMO we're to the point where dedicated spaces are more for taking a look at the tech before you start and for occasional use of specialized higher end equipment you don't otherwise have access to. Nobody uses computer labs/cyber cafes anymore... $\endgroup$ Jun 6 '19 at 0:48