Diamond Age 3D printer basics
Getting a project from vague idea to tangible object follows three key steps:
Design > Slice > Print
First, design your object
You don’t have to design a object from scratch, there are websites full of free designs like Thingiverse where you can download or customise files, as well as some walkthroughs on how to calibrate or modify your printer.
However, if you want to design a object from scratch, there are some good free options available. You can use any modelling software so long as the end product is manifold and in stl or obj file format.
Free Design Software
OpenSCAD is a great program for designing precise and parametric objects using mathematical commands. Brilliant for engineering types who prefer to design from dimensions, not so great for organic shapes or sculpting objects.
Blender is what you want to use for everything else, it allows you to sculpt, animate, whatever you want. The only catch is a massive learning curve. Luckily there are plenty of tutorials out there to help. (Bonus point, it can check whether a object is manifold and where exactly it’s gone wrong which has saved a lot of time for me personally -Tamara)
Next, slice your object
Once you know your object is manifold, import it into Repetier or your slicer. Tutorials on how to set up your slic3r can be found here.
Free Slicing Software
Sliced prints can be sent via USB Cable* or copied to SD Card and printed.
*Note! your print will stop if you are using USB and your computer decides to be stupid and power off/lock/die, SD card run printers are much more reliable.
To setup USB just install Repetier, connecting at 115200 baud rate.
-Windows Drivers http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Software/
-GNU/Linux and any Unix-like OS will simply work.