Tips for first time 3D Printer Builder?

Thanks to this group, I've ordered a set of parts for a RepRap Prusa Mendel.

I'm going to be taking the build slowly, and wanted to see if anyone has any tips that would pertain specifically to printing multicopter parts.

Is there a specific type of plastic I should use? Any gotcha's or no-no's?

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  • Not sure if you got your printer up and going. I suggest PLA. ABS was a pain and smells bad in my apartment. PLA lays down well and is still very strong if you design for manufacture. 

  • Since you're building a Mendel, you might consider doing PLA for ease of printing.  PLA is probably less tough than ABS, but on the plus side, more rigid.  

    And of course, if it breaks, you print a new one, maybe with slightly more fill or another external shell.  Rapid prototyping is key, make one and see if/how it sucks, then iterate.  Don't try to get it perfect the first time, you'll be better off with a "failing faster" approach.  

    Also I'm planning myself to take an approach that deliberately moves towards designs that take advantage of the 3D printing process, and for that you have to avoid just repeating other designs that were made with subtractive or assembly technologies.  

    I'm about to start printing PLA for the first time soon, I've been doing ABS for the past few months, and have discovered that controlled temperature is key for ABS.  Heated build platform is a must, and an enclosure for heat retention/draft avoidance is also necessary.  It also smells bad, so you need to vent, ideally to outdoors.  

    PLA is remarkably less sensitive to these issues, and in fact desires airflow for consistent results.  I'm trying to find an annular ring nozzle for airflow around the extruder nozzle to address this evenly.  Saw it on thingiverse somewhere...

    The other thing that comes to mind is build space.  Bigger is better to a point, then mechanical problems become relevant.  Having at least one fairly good sized dimension for longer parts is a challenge, but great if you can manage it.  

    Keep in mind that this stuff is changing rapidly.  Simpler is better, and new plastics are starting to become available (Nylon for one) that are potential game changers as things develop.  

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