This is a quick resource to give you an idea of what this hobby would entail based on my experience. It's meant to be a starting point for your research.
🥇 Highly Recommended
This is a remote controller for your 3D printer. You will have a webpage where you will be able to upload your files that you want to print. You can see the status of your print, such as how long it has been printing, how much longer til it's done, see the temps, watch a live stream of what you're printing, and much more. Check out their page at https://octoprint.org/ it's free!
There are many resources out there to help you setup OctoPrint, but here's a quick rundown of the equipment you need to acquire:
- raspberry pi 3 and newer (get the cheapest)
- microSD card, doesn't need to be large
- power supply for raspberry pi. Do not use your phone charger, it's not powerful enough
- micro usb cable to connect raspberry pi to your 3d printer
That should be enough to get you started with OctoPrint
👍 Nice to Have
If you want to go a bit further for convenience, you could also get the following
- USB webcam
- Smart Plug
This will give you the ability to have a live stream of your printer. Useful if when you want to be able to look at your print from your phone or computer to make sure nothing is going crazy. You could also set it up to do a time lapse of your print if you're into that.
Almost any old usb webcam would work. I use a Logitech pro 9000
This allows OctoPrint to turn off your printer when your print has completed. I set mine to turn off after 30 minutes of no activity, to give time for everything to cool down.
In OctoPrint, you can install plugins that other people made (on their free time) that would expand on functionality. There are quite a few that do the same feature, it just happened that I had a TP-Link smart plug and I used the TPLink Smartplug plugin.
Looks like there is also a Tuya Smartplug plugin that could do the same thing.
Tip: You'd have to know the ip addresses of the smart plugs to be able to control them. It is highly recommended to give them static IP addresses so they will maintain functionality.
If you're using a webcam, it would be beneficial to have some sort of lighting pointing at your 3D printer so you could see what's going on. Definitely needed if you're planning on doing time lapses of prints that will be happening in the dark hours of the night.
Explore the Plugin Repository in OctoPrint. There are many things to make your 3D printer smarter, such as sending you notifications via SMS, Telegram, MQTT, etc. There is a pretty good integration with Home Assistant, if you have that setup already.
I have it so that I get notifications in Telegram, and announcements on my smart speaker when the print has finished.
Thanks to the 3D printing community, there are a lot of things you can download and print from the internet. The following is a good starting point. Just search for what you're looking for, and someone has most likely made something. You can find many things for free and to purchase. If you are really in love with a free design, don't be afraid to thank the designer by donating to them.
If you feel adventurious, you could design your own files! Here is the easiest free tool to make simple 3D objects. Really, it's super easy to use! I wouldn't recommend you to this app if I didn't feel like anybody could do it.
Of course there are more powerful tools out there, but I am not well versed in them, and to be honest, they were pretty indimidating for me. Check out blender if you're willing to learn. If you're lucky enough to have 3D designing skills, please continue to use your program of choice and help us who have not put in the hours to perfect that skill.
Once you have the file that you need, you will have to convert it to a file that your printer will understand. It will take your 3d object and slice it horizontally into layers. Then it will generate a file that you will then send to your printer/OctoPrint. I use Ultimaker's Cura.
Inside cura, you can rotate the 3d object, resize it, change how thick you want the walls, the temperatures you want to setup, and so much more. I would recommend leaving it at default until you get more familiar and play around with the settings. I would also recommend rearching about generating support structures.
Things that I use frequently
- Digital Caliper
- I have a generic one I got from a hardware store, less than $30
- Use it to measure if you're designing your own 3D objects, or making sure you print something the right size from someone's file
- Regular ruler
- Stainless Steel Spatula
- Use it to scrape the print off the printer and clean the bed
- Sand Paper
- Diagonal Pliers
- I couldn't find the right name for the tool, but it looks like this https://we-supply.com/products/10531c Sometimes came up as mini diagonal side cutting pliers. My printer came with one.
- Super Glue
I'll get some photos of some of the things I printed so your mind can get a jump start on all the possibilities. You'll be seeing things in a different light when you realize you can make things better by printing something, or finally fix the broken thing that you've been meaning to fix.