This build was kickstarted (pun intended) by my fathers purchase of a Printrbot. With his printer I am able to print parts for my MendelMax (hence the whole “replicating” part of the RepRap philosophy).
A few of the parts needed tweaking due to some different bolt sizes (M6 instead of M5 for the tapped ends of the extrusion). This leads to being thrown in the deep end with programs like SketchUp, OpenSCAD, NetFabb and ReplicatorG.
Where SketchUp is a great visual CAD program where you can drag surfaces around with your mouse OpenSCAD is purely code based. This leads to (depending on the code) a more simple and accurate control over geometric shapes and patterns.
After creating or tweaking STLs in SketchUp I’ve found the “Center” and “Put on platform” functions quite useful for aligning up your objects reading for printing.
Also, after some failed prints I started using the free / basic version of NetFabb as this program has a “Repair” feature which repairs any non manifold parts (breaks in geometry) which would cause issues with Slic3r which we were using to print the parts. So in total this lead to a SketchUp -> ReplicatorG -> NetFabb -> Print work flow.