Resources: 3D Printing and Fabrication

3D Printers and Projects

Cutters (Subtractive Machines)

  • Laser cutters – Although we do not directly address laser cutters in this book, they can be a part of a school makerspace. Adafruit has a terrific tutorial and buyers guide for those thinking about laser cutters
  • Programmable vinyl cuttersRoland, US Cutter, and other companies make vinyl cutters. Look for large format printer companies in your area.
  • Cutter software – You will need a vector graphics program such as Adobe Illustrator, or the free opensource Inkscape (also many cutters come with their own software)

Software for 3D Design

  • TinkerCAD – Just before Invent To Learn went to print, TinkerCAD announced it was shutting down its easy to use, online CAD program. It was a favorite of many schools for its friendly interface, tutorials, and price (free!) Just weeks later, Autodesk announced that TinkerCAD will come into their fold of 3D modeling programs.
  • SketchUp – A free, easy to use 3D modeling program There is an online warehouse of models to download or contribute to.
  • Autodesk’s 123D – Free 3D modeling program, available both browser-based and as a downloadable app. Options include creating paper sliced or folded creations.
  • Shapesmith – Free, open-source, browser-based 3D modeler.
  • 3DTin – Free use 3D modeling program, charges for storage. Browser-based (WebGL enabled browser required).
  • ReplicatorG – Open source CAM program
  • Maya – Maya is a professional 3D modeling program that can be used to create 3D files for printing. It has a steep learning curve but is very powerful. AutoDesk (the publisher) offers a free 3 year student license if models are not sold commercially.
  • Blender – Blender is a widely used 3D creation tool, free to use for any purpose and supported by a worldwide developer and user community. Blender has a high learning curve but may interest students who are fans of 3D animation or video games.

Outsourced services

  • Shapeways – Upload a design and it will be printed and delivered to you. Also offers a community and marketplace to sell your own designs.
  • Ponoko – Create your own design or modify someone else’s with an easy to use “Personal Factory.” Your object will be delivered to you in plastic, wood, metal, ceramics, acrylic, or other materials.
  • Sculpteo – Print your 3D object in a variety of materials. Browse designer collections or open a 3D object store. Offers plugins for SketchUp and Blender.