3D printing allows us to create solid objects that occupy space in the real world. 3D printing is an additive process whereby one layer (most often ABS plastic) is added onto another successively until the full object is formed.
There are many different 3D printers on the market now as well as services that will do the job for you for a fee. Just as with paper printers, the cost and quality vary greatly.
In order to make a 3D printing, you need to create a digital file of an object. As when learning to do anything, it is best to start simple and build some understanding skill and being able to “think” about an object in 3D.
There is a variety of 3D or Auto CAD software available. To learn and explore it would be best to try out some of the easier and free apps.
3Dslash ( Windows, OS X, Linux, Raspberry )
3D Builder ( Windows )
SketchUp Pro Version 15 ( Windows, OS X )
( free educational licence in Quebec, ask your local RECIT )
There are 2 extentions for SketchUp that are important to add.
SketchUp STL Lets you export in .STL format. That is what most 3D printers use to print from.
Solid Inspector Tests your model to make sure all parts are solids.
A common mistake that 3D beginners make is designing something that is way too complex. When building your first object try keep it simple.
- Walls must have a thickness.
- Surfaces must meet at the edges.
- All parts must be solids.. (You can make a hollow cube, but the walls have to have thickness and each be solid and connected to the other planes)
- Everything should be connected to everything else.. (no floating parts).
- The bottom or base of the object should be flat so it will stand up.
More Info about 3D Printing:
CBC’s The Current Episode:
“3D printing technology changes manufacturing processes from cars to kidneys“