Is PrusaSlicer just for prepping files for printing; or can it do complete 3D design?
I moved off Windows PC to a Chromebook three years ago, but as I enter the world of 3D design and printing it seems part of my plan will have to be a Windows computer.
I used Rhino3D in the past and found it very intuitive for drawing the more geometric designs I'm working on. And Autodesk use to make an app called 123Design and I found that quite intuitive too. Can PrusaSlicer do full 3D design like these or is it strictly for preparing the files for printing?
As I look into purchasing a Windows machine is there a minimum spec I need for both design and running a 3D printer?
Its just for slicing. It is NOT 3d design software. While it can do some simple things like cut a model apart its for turning your prepared models into gcode that can be used by the printer.
With some of the feature requests over on github some people dont seem to understand that and expect it to do things like make holes in models or automatically round corner off to make prints 'better' or smooth models that are faceted. Basically they download any old model off thingiverse and expect it to come out super smooth and perfect.
Prusa Slicer will run on quite moderate spec computers although there have been a few issues with graphics cards/drivers (when isn't there these days). If you get a decent graphics card you should be ok. More memory is always good, just in general on a windows machine.
Get yourself some decent design software and/or some that allows you to re-mesh existing parts. Not used Rhino but its available on windows. Personally I've been using the last version of Blender and I just started playing with Fusion360 using its maker/free tier on the licence (from Autodesk and why 123Design isnt around any more).
Running the printer itself you have a choice of either printing from the SD card (reliable, keeps all the power panic etc) or you can use a USB connection to a 3rd party server like Repetier Host to serve the gcode out if you have to print from a PC. Most people dont serve files from the PC though due to if your pc decides it wants to restart it stops your print and ruins everything. For those not printing from the SD card the most popular option by far is running a Raspberry Pi 3 or 3b and running octoprint. Theres loads of threads about that already so I want repeat but I encourage you to do a bit of reading on it if you dont want to use the SD card.
I use a Flashair wireless SD card so I can transfer files over the network and just print as normal. I never have to remove the card but do have to go to the printer to start a print job. I dont mind that though as it allows me to make sure every things ok.
Basically theres lots of ways of doing it.