When I first got my 3D printer, I printed quite a few items from Thingiverse. A bust of Yoda, screw-less heart gears, and an endless number of “upgrades” for my printer. But the reason I really wanted a3D printer was to prove to my wife that I had been right in saying for several years “if I had a 3Dprinter, I could fix that.”
What I needed was to learn 3D modeling. I started with Tinkercad, which had its upsides. It was free, easy to navigate, and (mostly) made printable models. Tinkercad was fine, so long as I wasn’t doing anything too complicated. In fact, with a little cut-and-paste fun time I had Han Solo in carbonite[B1] watching over the back wall of my Z stage. Soon, though, Tinkercad wasn’t cutting it for me. I needed something that was more technical and gave me greater flexibility. When I saw that 3D Hubswas hosting a Fusion 360 workshop, it seemed like the perfect solution.
The morning of the workshop was cold and blustery. I donned my Sorrels and braved the bitter cold NYC weather. Nikki , the 3D Hubs mayor for NYC, greeted me warmly when I arrived. There were a couple people milling around the bagels and juice. Alex was printing skulls on the FormLabs, and some high school students were working with autodesk (I found out later that they were working on a project to design, produce, and market a cell phone charger for the Razor scooter that would charge while scooting).
Erika, the autodesk evangelist, soon began her demonstration. She gave a quick overview of autodesk and the free tools, then began demonstrating techniques using the students scooter as a model. I got lost fairly quickly, and spend the first half of the class making an attempt to look like I was keeping up. Finally, I got up the nerve to raise my hand and admit that I had no idea where in the demonstration I had lost my way. It seemed I wasn’t the only one, as a sigh of relief seemed to spread around the classroom. Erika started over (it turned out I had Fusion in the wrong modeling mode), and this time I was able to keep up. By the time I left class, I had a basic knowledge of the software.
Over the next few months, I gradually taught myself to use Fusion. One resource I used was the Fusion360 YouTube videos. I put the video on one monitor and followed along in Fusion on the other. By the fourth or fifth chapter of the tutorials, I had enough knowledge to start working with some original drawings of my own. I then decided to build my own 3D printer (based off of Carl Fienek’s C-bot). I started by modifying simple things, like joining plates and end-stop brackets, then decided to copy of all Carl’s 123D parts into Fusion to really teach myself how to model. When I got stuck, I went to YouTube or posted on the Fusion forum. It took about a month for me to really feel comfortable in the browser.
The NY winter is long over, and I am finishing this up on the other side of the country, in the SF Bay Area, sitting under a Persimmon tree. It has been almost six months I was first introduced to Fusion. In those six months I’ve learned the basics of modeling and, more importantly, where to ask questions. I’m glad Erika had the patience to start her demonstration over again, and glad that Nikki and 3D Hubs hosted the event in the first place.