Introduction to 3D Printing: An Easy Start to your First 3D Design

7 Videos (1h 4m)
  • How 3D Printing Works and Materials

    • Trailer


    • Intro to 3D Printing


  • Sketching Design and Importing to Software

    • Sketching Design on Paper


    • Importing Paper Image to Software


  • Designing 3D Object

    • Importing Design to 3D Software


    • Customizing Your 3D Object


  • Ready to Print

    • Preparing for 3D Printing


Class Project: Model Your Own 3D Design for a Hand-Held Object

How 3D Printing Works and Materials

  1. Resources for getting started

    Here is very unspecific list of additional beginner 3D design resources. Keep in mind some of these links are not official Shapeways resources. Always check the materials guide and your design file to be sure it meets the specs and price range you were aiming for.

    Shapeways 2D to 3D creator app

    Tinkercad intro videos: here, here, and here.

  2. Brainstorm your final design

    Their are many production decisions to be made when designing for 3D printing. Designers have the option to determine what material their objects will be constructed from, the volume of the material, the color, level of detail, and pricing.

    Visit the Shapeways Material Portfolio page to get an idea of the logistics of your final product. You may be surprised by the amount of choices you can make in regards to production! Think through the material constraints that you would like to apply to your final object.

Sketching Design and Importing to Software

  1. Sketch your design

    Create a sketch of your design concept in pencil. Remember to keep it clean and simple. Don't worry if your sketch conveys three dimensionality. Aim to conceptualize your design. It doesn't have to be perfect. Failure is an option.

    Redo your skecth in black ink. Strive to be clean and accurate on paper. Use thicker lines to make it easier to work with the image digitally.

  2. Photograph your B&W design

    Using a digital camera (mobile phone works great) photograph your design and import it to your computer.

    Share your initial concept design on your project page.

  3. Open your image file in Photoshop

    Photoshop is an unavoidable step in the process of converting a sketch to a digital file. Open your image in Photoshop and crop out any excess information.

  4. Select your design

    Use the magic wand (or another tool) to select your design. The goal is to create a smooth image to export to other design software. 

    Remember: If your selection has rough edges or misplaced "marching ants", you can use the masking tool to correct it.

  5. Export your work path to Illustrator

    Create a Work Path with your selected edges.

    Use File > Export > Paths to Illustrator to create a vector ready file type. Be sure to save the file as SVG (scalable vetor graphic).

    You can find my Illustrator design attached below.

Designing 3D Object

  1. Open your work paths in Illustrator

    Open your vector paths in Illustrator (it may look empty but the path will be there if you select them). 

    Be sure to save the file as an SVG.

  2. Open your design in Tinkercad

    Create a new account at Tinkercad.

    Import your design by opening Import > 2D File > Your design. 

    Adjust the thickness/height of your shape to a desired size.

    Tip: Resize your grid to visualize how large your object will be.

    Other 3D design software include 3DtinSketchUpAutodesk123DFreeCAD, or OpenSCAD.

  3. Embellish your design

    Feel free to use the tools Tinkercad provides to add embellishments to your design. 

    In the lesson I use letters to create customized embossed lettering. 

    Thinkercad handly includes a keyring tool that allows users to easily create keychains from their designs.

    Toy around with your design to create a trinket of your choice.

    Once your object is finalized in 3D you can export it by going to Design > Download for 3D printing, then uploading it to Shapeways.

Ready to Print

  1. Acknowledge material restraints

    Before you print your object you should verify that its manufacturing is possible.

    Do this by checking your design against the material restraints we have on Shapeways. You should also check our design guidelines for general best practices. 

  2. Upload your design for production

    Upload your design to Shapeways to access the production page. Here you can make crucial production decisions such as printing material, volume, color, and pricing.

    Take a screenshot of your final product and share it on your project page.

Additional Resources

  • completed and scaled .SVG file

Attached Files