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Most of the guides I can find are just canned responses to specific questions. Instead I'm looking for something meant to teach good fundamental understanding and core needed skills. Beginner's guides are common in other hobbies but I am having trouble finding one for 3d printing.

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  • $\begingroup$ Most printers come with a manual that teaches you the core stuff. Anything else would be specific questions I would think. It's not rocket science. $\endgroup$
    – Kilisi
    May 7, 2022 at 6:33
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, see this question for instance: 3dprinting.stackexchange.com/questions/5215/… $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    May 9, 2022 at 7:37

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Here's a brief outline I threw out in chat once. I'm marking this as a "community Wiki" answer so feel free to edit.

It is not a full Primer, so should date better than a Word6.0 manual.


Start by reading the instructions that came with your printer. There's a high chance that some assembly is required, and if you get something wrong then things may nor work right later. Some brands come complete, some are better than others in this regard. Take your time.

For most people, they spend the first couple of weeks failing prints for multiple reasons. For me it was bed levelling and getting the first layer-adhesion, and filament tension.

So work on getting the bed levelled, work out how much gluestick or tape your filament needs to work, and what temperatures work in your environment.

I use 210 °C on the hotend for PLA+ and 60 °C bed temp, though others get away with 190 °C on the hotend and 50 °C on the bed. My printer is in a garage though.

Try and print a 20 mm cube or a benchy.

After that, explore http://thingiverse.com or http://thangs.com looking for pre-made stuff that you would benefit from. Start small.

The Grab Toy Infinite is a great starter - it's very forgiving about tolerances, and kids like it. Expect rough handling to break it.

When you're happy printing other people's things, identify some needs of your own. In fact, make up a document / draught email / notepad of ideas of things to print. I add stuff to mine all the time.

When you've got a need that no one else can fill, you can start designing your own item and do the whole

idea -->  ||:  (re)design --> implement --> test --> curse :|| success!!    loop.    

Many people bang on about expensive fancy software, but you can make a perfectly adequate part using http://tinkercad.com/ as a grounding.

For example, I had too many spare hacksaw blades and none of the "holders" I could buy were perfect, nor even close. Here's my output:

https://www.tinkercad.com/things/9yQMmxRv4Lz-spare-hacksaw-blade-holder

Like many things in making, expect to fail and learn and do it again.

Sometimes it looks like we buy printers to print things for the printers for printing things for the printers...repeat.

Look for needs in your life and design something to fill them. It's most satisfying.

There's a huge gap between Functional prints, which do a job, and pretty prints which are just to look nice.

Functional things are great - you can therefore justify the cost of more printer upgrades. LOOK AT ALL THE MONEY WE SAVED!

But overall enjoy yourself and the time you spend making things.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Kilisi: Maybe you printer came with good instructions. Not all printers even come with instructions at all beyond basic assembly. And when they do, more often than not the instructions are bad or outright wrong. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2022 at 1:14
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Thera are plenty of such guides. But from necessity they deal with specifics, there are too many things to cover otherwise.

Multiple types of printers, multiple brands, multiple slicers, multiple ways of modelling etc,. With more all the time. Reading up on something that tells me how to model and slice in Freecad & Creality, when I'm using Blender & Cura is a waste of time.

Generic instructions that apply to everything are so vague as to be essentially useless. (Plenty of those online though)

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm doubtful of the claim that general instructions would be useless. The bigger problem is how much bad information there is out there, and finding a trustworthy source that's not full of bad information. $\endgroup$ May 7, 2022 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ Generic instructions are... follow the instructions that came with your printer, use the temp range suggested on your filament... blah blah... useless... $\endgroup$
    – Kilisi
    May 8, 2022 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ Those definitely aren't good generic instructions. The temperature ranges suggested with filaments are marketing material to sell to people with PTFE-lined hotends; most of the time you actually need to ignore them and look up the right values for the material (which will be much higher), then tune it to your machine's temperature reading, which may be off. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2022 at 1:04
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    $\begingroup$ And the ones who use them without any understanding of that stuff are helpless when it doesn't do what they want, because they don't understand any of the how or why. Then they listen to the first piece of random bad advice from somebody else who doesn't understand anything... $\endgroup$ May 8, 2022 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ "Only helpless if you're trying to do things outside the norm" <- no. Since you brought up the photocopier analogy, I'm going to run with it. If you don't understand the different ways it's treating black-on-solid-background vs grayscale/color content that lets you do things like copy from yellow paper to white paper and also copy illustrations, you're going to be trying random wrong things as soon as that stuff goes wrong trying to copy mixed content. You need to learn the principles behind a machine to use it effectively. Not just to press buttons like a robot. $\endgroup$ May 9, 2022 at 17:45

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