Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who is this for?
A: The course is for middle-school and up (adults included). This is ungraded and has parts you can skip over. Some people may not want to dive into the geekiest engineering bits but will have a friendly, gradual introduction to 3D printing. There are some nuances to choosing the right models to download, and how to slice and print them, to have a rewarding experience.

Computer literacy is definitely required, and if you’re going to do the assembly yourself, good spatial reasoning.

Q: How much does it cost?
A: The bare minimum (printer, USB cable, one spool of filament) plus a suggested minimum contribution of $20 for the course would be $290 (taxes and shipping extra). Setting up a fully networked 3D printer with additional tools and a suggested contribution of $50 for the course would be $504 (plus taxes and if you don’t have Prime, shipping). We want to make this course accessible and all the instructional materials will be available under Creative Commons – BY license, and the contribution is voluntary, so if you already have access to what you need, the cost would be zero. Enrollment is on a first-come first-served basis.

Q: How do I sign up?
A: Fill out the registration form at https://grooversoft.com/course-registration
We will contact you with a form to sign but your place in line is based on (properly) completing the registration form. There will be an introductory session where we answer questions and talk about how the course will work.

Q: Will this work on Mac OS?
A: Yes! All of the software we cover is freely available for Windows, Mac and Linux. You just need to be able to install software applications on your computer, and at least 8gb of RAM is required.

Q: What do I need at home?
A: Obviously, you need an internet connection. If you want to set up a networked 3D printer you’ll need wifi (although Ethernet works too). A computer with at least 8gb RAM running Windows, any modern Linux distro or Mac OS will do. You’ll want to have one free USB port on your computer. You also need to plan space for your printer. You need at least 4 square feet of flat surface with a little over 3 feet of vertical clearance.

Q: Does 3D printing produce bad smells and toxic fumes?
A: The PLA printing we cover in this course uses non-toxic material (PLA or polylactic acid is a polyester usually derived from corn starch). Some say that it gives off a mild sugary smell but I haven’t noticed that myself. If you plan to print with other materials such as ABS (which definitely gives off styrene gas and other toxic fumes) it’s good to have the printer in the garage or a well-ventilated indoor area. It needs to be flat and should not be subject to weather or extreme humidity. Drafts can also present a problem in printing. If the printer is in a garage or workshop it can be connected to the optional Octoprint setup we’ll also cover in this course, which allows remote printing and monitoring.

Q: Is 3D printing noisy?
A: I shot this short video of my Ender 3 Pro printing something to illustrate:

Basically, this particular printer is relatively quiet but if you had this in your bedroom running all night, it might be disturbing.

Q: What about safety?
A: We expect all participants (or their parents / guardians, if under 18) to take responsibility for their own safety. 3D printing does use temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius at the print nozzle. We only cover printing PLA and TPU which are both materials using lower bed temperatures no hotter than 50 degrees Celsius. This is by no means a list of all potential safety issues, but wearing loose clothing or unbound hair close to a 3D printer in operation can result in entanglement in the gears and pulleys.

Q: Can a group of people in the same house join?
A: Of course. You will definitely find it easier if everyone has their own computer and you set up your 3D printer for networking. Our meeting capacity should be enough to have multiple participants joining separately.

Q: Do I have to attend all the classes?
A: You do not have to attend classes. You can also watch the recordings and post questions to the forum.

Q: Will you issue a certificate on completion?
A: Good question. There are questions we’d have to resolve regarding how we count course hours. There are no plans to do so at this time but it’s a possibility.

Q: Can I tell neighbors, friends and family about this?
A: We are offering this to people we know through school or from parenting organizations like TPPG. We don’t mind sharing this but ask that you not post links to public media. We just have limited time to screen applicants so if you know individuals or families who might be interested and you know them personally, please feel free! Yes, we’re on the Google index and spammers are already finding us, but we can deal with that.