I started investigating 3D printing in late 2014, I knew I had to be able to cerate my own designs so my first task was selecting a CAD program. I selected ViaCad 2D/3D starting with v8. I spend two years learning to use this program when I had some time to get to it. I upgraded to v9 then v10 with ProPack and have never regretted my choice. This is an incredible and underrated CAD program. There are many videos available available on how to use it. The manual for v10 is great (the previous manuals were less so) and one their is a fantastic hints and tips book that I highly recommend anyone get with it.
My first printer kit was a Wilson TS. Instead of just assembling and using it I read far to=o many articles on modifications and ordered many "improved parts" and tried to change too many items on it before I had it completed. It is still not yet finished yet, LOL.
Once I felt good with the CAD program and had created a fer designs (STL files) that I had local people print for me, I bought a Creality Ender 2 that I assembled and used perfectly for fou three months months. I then wanted to do some larger items and bought an JGAurora A5. It assembled instantly and like the Ender 2 it worked perfectly out of the box! I've used them both now for a year and and very please with it in virtually every regard. It does not have auto bed leveling but their "leveling assist" make leveling a 2 minute task and I surely do not need to do it but every third print.
Wanting US made filament I have purchased Push Plastic 95% of the time. Their filament prints perfectly on both printers and their colors are simply clean and sharp. I have bought five spools of PLA from Microcenter locally. It is also decent but simply not quite as good as the Push. For example, their yellow is a sort of milky version of that color and the red spool I bought there had the bottom layer stick to the bed but then broke off after that tip layer. I need to play with it to see if higher or lower temps in either the bed of extruder can solve that unpleasant trait on that particular spool. Again, the Push plastic had not given me any such concerns.
I print a lot of home storage gadgets. We have a small home and these like shaver hangers for the bathrooms have really helped. The items I design then print have mostly been the same sort of storage or organizational pieces. I have a plethora of battery powered items and Arduino projects and have designed and printed racks, brackets, and such and they are really handy to have round.
Tools I Use…
Printers: JGAurora A5
Design Programs: ViaCad 2D/3D v10 Pro with Powerpack
3D Design Skill Level