Hopefully many of you received brand new 3D printers for the holidays. If so, I’m sure there are more than a couple of you wondering, “What do I do now?”. Thankfully, there are fantastic communities that have sprung up around 3D printing and they are here to help you.
Numerous groups around the world have come together to form dedicated 3D printing communities. These often meet monthly in varying locations and normally are free and open to anyone of any skill range. Since these meetings are organized by people who are passionate about 3D printing, they are always a great place to go and learn more about the subject and try to get answers to your questions. I organize 3D Printing Providence, and for over 2 and a half years now, we have been offering free meetings to help anyone in the New England area who is interested in 3D printing on the second Wednesday of every month. Check meetup.com or google for 3D printing meetings in your area. The London 3D Printing meetings on meetup.com seem to be very frequent and well attended.
Many hackerspaces have nights that are dedicated to 3D printing, and often open these up to the public. Hackerspaces also often offer classes on 3D printing. These classes are a great way to quickly get up to speed as they are often laid out to help make sure that beginners know what they are doing before having access to the 3D printers at the space. Deezmaker in Pasadena, CA are an interesting mix of 3D printing vendor and hackerspace. They have dedicated 3D printing meetings on the first Sunday of every month from 12pm-5pm. I will be teaching intro to 3D printing classes at my hackerspace, Ocean State Maker Mill, starting in Q1 of 2015.
Many libraries across the country are adding 3D printers to their community offerings. They often have a hard time keeping them regularly staffed with 3D printing experts, but often have a day or two a week when someone who knows their stuff is around to answer questions. Check with a librarian to see if you can schedule time to get help from their expert.
3D Hubs has created an easy way to connect those who need 3D prints with those who have 3D printers. Larger metropolitan areas have 3D Hubs mayors who are tasked with periodically hosting 3D printing meetings. Meeting with a few hub experts can be a great way to connect with someone who has a lot of experience with 3D printing.
I am beginning to compile a list of 3D printing meetings and events. If you organize a 3D printing meeting or know of one that we should include, leave a comment below so we can get it on the list.