How to get free computer hardware and software
You can find cheap or free computer hardware if you know where to look. While it might not be great, the most basic of systems should be able to run cloud based CAD modelling packages and slicers for your 3D Printer. Always keep an eye out for good deals or freebies you can use in your makerspace setup!
Our System: Lenovo ThinkCentre
Processor: Intel Core i5 2400 @ 3.10GHz
Memory: 4.00GB DDR3
System Type: 64-bit
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro (Free Upgraded from Windows 7 Pro)
Monitor: Dell 4:3 LCD Monitor (Found on the side of road)
Cost: Free / available for ~$100USD
Learn how to get Windows 10 for FREE here (subject to change without notice)
Download Windows 10
Ubuntu Budgie (alternative to windows but won't run all software featured below)
Not all software will work on all operating systems. The compatibility for the following software is listed in green for compatible, red for not compatible, and orange for possible but not reliable or with caveat.
3D Design / CAD Software
Software you use to create your designs! All of the following are free for educational use at time of writing. The choice of 3D Design software is very much down to personal preference. Check out the following and find learning resources to see which suits you or your child best!
- Fusion 360 - Autodesk Windows macOS Linux (cloud only)
- Tinkercad - Autodesk Windows macOS Linux
- Vectary Windows macOS Linux
- OpenSCAD Windows macOS Linux
- Blender Windows macOS Linux
- Bforartists Windows macOS Linux
- IceSL-Forge Windows macOS Linux
Slicers are used to convert your 3D Designs into G-code which your 3D Printer can understand. Every slicer has its own feel and features so experiment to find which suits you best! Unless your 3D Printer is already catered for in a profile you will need to setup the print bed size and other specifications. Dialing in a 3D Printer can be fun. Check out the Maker's Muse 3D Printable files available here.
- ideaMaker Windows macOS Linux
- PrusaControl (currently only supports Prusa Research printers officially) Windows macOS Linux
- Slic3r Prusa Edition Windows macOS Linux
- Cura Windows macOS Linux
- iceSL-slicer (adaptive layer heights and infill. NOTE: may not work on older hardware) Windows macOS Linux
Mesh Editing Software
Software for repairing, altering and creating mesh files. Invaluable for 3D Printing.
- Meshmixer - Autodesk Windows macOS Linux (see here)
- Blender (yes, you can use it to edit mesh files as well as 3D model!) Windows macOS Linux
- Vectary (similarly, vectary offers a degree of mesh repair and edit functionality) Windows macOS Linux
- Meshlab (incredibly powerful, complicated and no undo button...) Windows macOS Linux