I've had a 3D printer since April of 2017. I wasn't early to the party by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm lucky in that I catch onto things quickly. It didn't take me long to understand the mechanics of 3D printing and once the novelty of printing things off the internet got old, it came time to learn how to make my own stuff and man, that's when all hell broke loose because I literally had no idea what I was doing.
I tried the software that came with my 3D printer, and of course it was garbage. Most printers literally come with garbage software that's unusable to begin with. Combine it with being new to the concepts and you have a mess in a brown paper bag waiting to be left on someone's doorstep on fire while you ring the bell and run.
I couldn't wrap my head around any of it, but I knew I had to learn something, so I grabbed Fusion 360. If you've been in 3D printing or modeling for any length of time, you know that there are a few "standard" programs that everyone uses, and Fusion 360 is one of them. In fact, I dare say it's the one most people use for making models for 3D printing, and with good reason. It's incredibly flexible, has tons of features, and in most cases you can use it for free legally. The learning curve, however, is incredibly steep, and it was a turn off to me. I didn't understand the concepts at all, and the more I tried to teach myself the more lost I became. I tried Autodesk's tutorials, but they were simply too long and went into too many features I didn't need and would never need.
That was when I said to myself, I need to go simpler and started learning Tinkercad and the more I used it the more I started to understand why Fusion 360 did what it did. I couldn't do much, but I was starting to understand it, at least. Combined with a lot of videos from some of my favorite Youtube personalities where Fusion tutorials would appear occasionally, I was starting to get it, but I knew I needed more specifics.
I took a class on Skillshare from Vladimir Mariano called Fusion 360 for 3D printing on Skillshare (affiliate link). It's an eleven lesson course in modeling a few small practical items to use around your home. Not only did I start catching on, I really started getting it to a degree where I felt confident and started modeling my own things. Then I went back and re-watched the Youtube videos I tried to learn from before, but something had changed. I understood what they were doing. The concepts were sticking. And that's when everything opened up for me.
Now, when I open Fusion 360, it's rare that I don't know how to do what I opened it to do, and even if I don't a quick Google to set me in the right direction (I don't even need a full tutorial on things any more) gets me what I want. I'm not an expert but the concepts roll in and I just smile thinking how much I learned.
I didn't learn everything from the course I took on Skillshare. I did, however, learn a lot. I learned the concepts and set a great foundation that has since set me into an amazing direction of making and exploring and being able to bring my own ideas and designs to life.
So for this entry, the takeaway is simple: you don't have to learn all the things to move on with something, and learning is a process not a stop. You learn, and what you learn enables you to learn more, and you keep doing that until you've learned enough to be satisfied and then you learn the next thing. I didn't learn Fusion 360 at once. I don't even know if you could, but when I had a good enough foundation to uncork my ability to learn and be productive, that's when everything changed. It will for you too, so start small, start learning, and push yourself. Just be fair to yourself and understand you won't absorb all things immediately and you'll be surprised what you can pick up if you give yourself a proper and fair chance at it.