A new 3D printer user is born every minute. Okay, I’m not exactly sure of the statistics, but often enough that these newbies are an important part of the 3D printing community and making them feel welcome is key. In addition, providing new owners with the support they need prevents that early stage frustration and burnout that can cause people to give up before they’ve had a chance to really get their feet wet (note: 3D printers should not be operated in locations where your feet are wet).
So, if you are new to 3D printer ownership, or know somebody who is, YouTube user MrJoeSays has been kind enough to create a new video designed just for the occasion (I am including some of my own helpful hints in this article as well). The star of the video, Joe, is a friendly and enthusiastic 3D printing adventurer and he’s just thrilled to pieces when people join in the game. His infectious enthusiasm is hard to resist and his solid advice is definitely worth the watch.
The number one item on his list is a print bed scraper, and as he goes through them you get the sense of someone who has spent a lot of time trying out different things in order to find his own way and who encourages you to do the same. Also, the Band-Aid on his hand is a good indicator of someone who is truly involved in making…maybe Band-Aids should be on his list of must haves too!
Second on his list are the tools necessary for continued maintenance and adjustments for the printer. Joe is quick to admit that he got his machine for making stuff, not for tinkering with, but most 3D printer owners find that the 3D printer is a project in and of itself. Whether that means you want to engage in high intensity upgrades or you just need to fine tune the creature, you will be saved some frustration if you have a hex set and a small screwdriver at your disposal. In addition, he recommends filling out your tool box with a safety blade, a pair of wire cutters, needle nose pliers, calipers, a small flashlight, and a metric hex socket set.
Most of these tools won’t come included in the box your printer arrives in. (Note: the little packs of desiccant that are included are NOT snacks…don’t eat them!) Just like a new puppy probably doesn’t come with food and a leash, but needs those things as important parts of maintaining a healthy, functioning pet. But what are you going to do with these tools? Well, sometimes you will be using them to install spare parts (note: this is where the puppy metaphor breaks down) and so Joe recommends keeping a small supply of commonly needed replacement parts, such as nozzles or liner tubes, on hand for when you need them.
Halfway through the list comes a recommendation for pen and paper. These are for note taking during the printing process so that you don’t have to re-learn the same lesson each time about things such as temperature, speed, mistakes and miracles. You’ll have enough going on while learning how to use the machine that you shouldn’t expect to be able to remember everything, and having good notes can help speed up the acclimation process. Another thing that will help you out a lot is connection to a good community that provides 3D printing tips and tricks and where you can go to ask the questions that stump you. Sometimes, just knowing that you are not alone can help you make it through a tough time. Joe specifically recommends that you join the 3D printing tips and tricks Google group and join it the very first day…if not sooner.
Now, chances are that you are going to want to actually print something with your machine (note: this may void the warranty); if you have such a crazy idea, Joe recommends that you go to yeggi.com, which is a search engine for all 3D print repositories. This is a great place to find tiny prints that help you configure your machine and save you from the boredom of calibration cubes. Also, go ahead and pick up a loupe or a magnifying glass because once you have printed something, especially if it is something small, that is your best bet to examine it so that you can really see all of the detail.
Just as duct tape has been the handyman’s secret weapon, ever 3D printer operator needs to have a tube of superglue on hand (note: don’t literally glue it to your hand, trust me, this is actually possible) and Joe recommends a hot glue gun too. In fact, he seems a bit concerned about the quality of your life in general if you don’t already have one.
Last, but not least, on his list of necessaries is a subscription to a YouTube channel…maybe one with helpful hints about the 3D printing? And, gosh, as long as you are already watching this video, maybe MrJoeSays is a good way to start. Just a thought (note: subscribe!) I’d say the only thing missing is the critical recommendation that you regularly check in and obsessively follow a fantastic source for all 3D print news (note: especially one with an incredibly talented and dedicated staff of writers).