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Introduction to 3D Design and Printing

Resources to learn about 3D design and 3D printing best practices

In This Guide

This guide is intended for beginners to 3D printing who are looking for 3D design resources for learning. This guide is going to walk through  navigation tips,  printing your design, and resources to learn more advanced techniques and software.

The guide covers the following software for use for 3d design work:

  • Tinkercad—Free online app to create 3d models by Autodesk. Works great for beginners‚Äč.
  • Blender—Open source 3D Creation suite—Including modeling, animations, simulation and compositing.
  • SketchUp 3D—Proprietary software with multiple pricing tiers. Great for architectural projects.

Options and alternatives to the above software including commercial options are listed in the Other Software tab. And if you want to submit your build to the BPL the procedures are also included in the Getting Ready to Print Tab.

Lastly you can search the BPL calendar for classes on workshops about 3D printing and design.  

Helpful Terms to Know

  • Computer-aided design (CAD) -- The use of computers to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design.
  • Computer-aided engineering (CAE) --The use of computer to simulate performance to improve product designs or help solve engineering problems. 
  • Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) --The use of software to control machine tools in the manufacturing of a particular object. 
  • Direct Modeling -- Designs made using direct modeling are not defined by equations. Faces, points, and vertices can be manipulated without having to manage complex geometric relationships.  Many "beginner" programs use this form of modeling. 
  • Parametric Modeling -- Designs are defined as a series of parameters, and constraints, bound by mathematical equations called feature. The relationships between these features are often complex and can be hard to master. Most engineer oriented applications use parametric modeling