hi where do i begin?
I mainly use Sketch8 but SolidWorks is the best freebie out there. I am switching over to it
I use Inventor (which is free to studends) and which, IMO, is MUCH more intuitive and has WAY more features than SW
Copy something around you or make a new simple part. I just made this little plant stand the other night for example: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:38299
http://www.shapeways.com is cool if you don’t have a printer or a friend with one and want to try getting stuff made. Just keep your part volume down and it’s affordable.
A) Don’t own a 3D printer already;
B) Don’t plan on buying/building one any time soon;
then learning CAD on any of the many programs out there should be step #1 when getting into 3D printing. Using Shapeways as @Matthew_Valancy said is fine for getting either your original design or someone else’s into the real world once you get a feel for it. Just don’t fall into the “I’ll just get all my designs from Thingiverse” trap. You won’t really be doing yourself any favors by sticking to being a consumer. Contribute to the movement and submit your own designs, even something as simple as a cube or whistle.
Wow great info thanx
Good luck! You have an enormous community to fall back on when you get stuck or overwhelmed.