Getting expert help for your advanced 3D printing related questions is challenging. Where should you look? Who should you ask? The thing with 3D printers is that there are various experts you should relate to in terms of software and hardware. Tom and Tracy Hazzard offer their advice as to how to solve your 3D print problems, who to ask, and where can you find the right support people.
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Where Can I Get Expert Help?
This is the Ask Us Anything segment.
At least anything 3D Printing.
We could answer some questions about invention and design. I’d be willing to answer any of those. I get a lot of questions about how it’s like to work with your husband.
For now, this is WTFFF?! so let’s keep it 3D printing.
Our question is, “Besides the printer manufacturer, where can I get expert help?”
In certain things about your printer, there are experts at the printer manufacturers who created the machine that if you’re having a mechanical problem, a hardware problem or even with their software interface, you need to go to them. There is then the realm of settings for printing your particular object.
That’s the big issue. It’s not one expert. It’s like five experts. You’ve got the expert on the printer and how it calibrates, how it sets and how it functions. You’ve got the expert on the slicing software and all the settings within there. You’ve got materials that sometimes you’re slicing software smart enough or sometimes they’re not. I haven’t found anyone at the basis of the materials who is that big an expert. There aren’t too many out there who will give you their setting because they don’t know what machine you’re using them in.
You have the people that create the onboard software, the firmware that’s on the printer. There can be glitches and problems there as well. Unfortunately, all these experts are spread across different companies at times.
Sometimes there’s some finger-pointing. It’s like, “It’s a firmware problem. It’s a software problem.” You get to solve that problem for them. The only place that I found experts are in real users. The makerspaces have experts. I found some experts there.
Every printer manufacturer or at least everyone that I’ve looked up in detail, has their own knowledge base. They have forums of their community of users that are out there. You probably want to be talking with someone who’s using your same printer and your same slicing software. It’s easiest to find that first at a forum in your printer. I’ve done this. We have a Leapfrog Creatr HS. We were the first people in the United States to get one. There weren’t any expert users in the United States that I could talk to when I was having some issues. I reached out to the printer company. They not only referred me to the knowledge base, but they had a user they recommended and said, “This guy is on the forums a lot. He knows a lot. Why don’t you start talking to him?” I did and I emailed him. We started a conversation back and forth. We found we were having some of the same issues and we helped each other solve them. You want to find other people that are having some of the same experiences as you are.
As you start to print more and more, you also have a what problem. What you’re designing and then printing is sometimes a part of the issue like it prints better on a certain printer. It’s stressing the printer.
The majority of these printer manufacturers, when they’re testing their printers, when they’re calibrating their own printers or they’re testing their upgraded firmware. They print the same old models over and over again because they’re not in the business of creating new stuff to print.
In all fairness, they don’t want a new model to be the problem. It throws a wrench in the works. You have a design of experiment. It’s got to be stable.
When we’ve had problems with some of our models, they don’t always know. They would have to go and experiment as well. That’s the tough part and unfortunately, it is the nature of open-source 3D printers now. You were talking about materials. The nature of open-source 3D printers is you can put whatever material into what you want as long as it can melt that material. If it has the capability to melt that temperature, you can put in anything that you want. We’re all experimenting here and as frustrating as that is, that is the reality of it.
You might want to approach it in two ways. You might want to go to the knowledge base, join the forums, join something that has to do with your printer, but you also might want to join other people who are printing similar types of things. Whether it’s fashion, there’s a great 3D print fashion LinkedIn group. I love that group. They talk about it at a high level. They’re pushing the envelope of what 3D printing can do for fashion. That’s great. There are a lot of materials discussion and a lot of things appropriate to what they’re printing there. Not every group is like that. A lot of them are a lot more general, but that one is specific. That’s one thing we’re tossing around here.
Some new groups are needed. This is something we’re tossing around. We’re thinking, should we create a user group or a forum, whether it’s through Google Hangout, YouTube Live events or as a LinkedIn group? If any of you out there reading would be interested in participating in such a thing, can you please contact us? Provide us some feedback.
Where you want to do it and what you want it to be about. We think it should be about the what and the focus of designing that, then executing that and printing. What do you guys want?
We’d love to know it. I hope this gives you pointers in the right direction of how to get expert help. We’ll keep talking about this as time goes on.
If you are an expert, contact us so we can refer you to people. That would be great as well.
We’d be happy to add you to our resources page at HazzDesign.com.
Also, interview you on a future podcast. I have an artist who’s been doing it in sculpture and jewelry. We’re going to interview her. That’s a great area that is growing fast in 3D printing.
Thanks for your question.
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