How I learned to 3D Print

How I learned to 3D Print

A quick back story: my oldest son received a 3D printer for Christmas 2018 from his Grandparents. While a 3D printer can be very cool, the thing that bothered me was, he would only download things from Thingiverse and print them out - he wasn't making anything! This made the printer more of a very expensive way to collect objects around the house, like a Chicago Bulls logo. I wanted him to learn how to use it in ways that could be more useful.

By the way, the 3D printer he has is the Alta from Silhouette (find it on Amazon here). The quality seems to be pretty good and we have generated some really good prints with it.

Now I admit, I was stuck along with him. I could not think of something to build, but it wasn't because I didn't have things that could be created, I didn't know how to create them! I had no design experience at all, I mean, come on, I'm a Speech Communications major that works as a Network Engineer on Internet stuff.

Then one day, it happened. I received the spark I needed to get into designing.

I was talking to a friend of mine, another Mike, and he does have a background in Design. He is a Mechanical Engineer. In fact, he has printed some things for me in the past, like this ceiling mount for my Aruba IAP-205 WiFI router. He has some really neat stuff up at Thingiverse like this Ryobi Power Deck that lets you re-purpose your old Ryobi batteries. He had mentioned how he loves to use Fusion 360 for his design work, but that was always too intimidating to me to think about. Until...

Until one day when he said:

"Mike, you can learn the basics of Fusion 360 easy, just go to YouTube and look for videos from this guy Lars Christensen. He has a tutorial on there, he has lots of them, but he has one that will teach you how to build a basic object. Go check it out."

So I did it. I watched his videos on Fusion 360 for Absolute Beginners and it worked. I was so inspired by the videos from Lars that I set out to find something I could 3D print.

First, I purchased a digital caliper. I needed to having something to create exact measurements. My friend Mike also has a long story about why these things can be so cheap these days, even with very precise measurements. I bought this Performance Tool caliper to get started. This was one of the keys to success.

My Performance Tool Caliper on my design notes

Second, I downloaded and installed Fusion 360 This tool is fantastic and can be used for free if you are not making money from your creations.

After watching the videos from Lars Christensen on how to learn Fusion 360, I was ready to find a project.

My project ended up being - A new foot for my Black & Decker toaster oven. One foot had broken off almost one year ago and it has been driving me nuts ever since! We get it out of the cabinet daily for breakfast and the fact that it always fell over to the side was enough to drive me crazy.

Now, I could fix it myself with a 3D printing. Here is my write-up on how I created a toaster oven foot.

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