We are excited to see such an easy to read book hit the markets that is perfectly pitched to take the reader from complete novice to 3D Printing Pro in just 309 pages. Published by Apress, the book is available as an ebook or or as a paper back via Amazon.
We interviewed Sandeep to get to know a little about his background, what his inspiration was for writing the book and his experience to date with 3D printing from SketchUp to Shapeways. Following is the transcript of the interview between Duann and Sandeep.
Duann: Firstly thanks for writing such an easy to read book that explains both SketchUp and 3D printing to the beginner. You have a background in electrical engineering, how did you first get exposed to SketchUp and 3D printing?
Sandeep: For my Masters program I went to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and decided to get a degree in Biomedical Engineering. I was interested in working for a medical device company and helping people, there I took a course in product design and was introduced to 3D modeling, I used SolidWorks there for my course work but also was reading about other CAD software and saw SketchUp and was amazed at how easy it was to use. After graduation, a year later I believe shapeways started and was excited about taking something I have designed to see it in 3D form, and many of my Engineering friends didn't know about SketchUp or Shapeways
Duann: Did you find that having a tangible output with 3D printing gave more incentive to continue to learn 3D Modeling
Sandeep: Yeah it was exciting. Now I could take something that I have designed and hold it in my own hands without having to purchase expensive equipment
Duann: How did the learning curve of Shapeways and 3D printing compare to the learning curve of SketchUp? Was 3D printing as easy to achieve results quickly?
Sandeep: I remember in the beginning uploading models on Shapeways was a little tough a lot of the SketchUp models that I uploaded came out with errors, I think Shapeways over the past year has improved a lot.
Duann: The introduction of Shapeways Mesh Medic made many more files printable that would have otherwise been rejected, now most errors come from people not designing for the process or
materials, with thin walls, and unsupported large structures, or just
too small. Not from file mesh, manifold errors.
Sandeep: Yeah exactly right, I don't see as many errors now, there seems to be a lot of improvements. There are some amazing mathematical model designs on the site.
Duann: Your book covers both SketchUp and Shapeways in considerable detail, what was the stand out points, either hardest or surprisingly easy with each?
Sandeep: For the reader its important to know that there is a minimum wall thickness and manifold issues that have to be checked before uploading. This is one of the early mistakes I had made while designing my models. What makes Shapeways great is the ability to upload multiple file formats (.dae) which can be exported from SketchUp and the ability to check models for errors. I had some difficulty setting up the store in Shapeways. I believe the entire form had to be filled out before creating the store I figured this out after couple of tries.
Duann: And with SketchUp? what were the frustrating problems or happy surprises?
Sandeep: SketchUp is great because it is very intuitive. Simply click, drag push/pull and you have a design in no time. And all the tools are laid out simply. Other CAD software have too many tools tht can be confusing for a beginner. I also love that you can build upon SketchUp by adding plugins. The difficult part of SketchUp is designing curved models, it takes a lot of time.
Duann: I am always a little shocked when I see curved models in SketchUp, but some of the Shapeways community (dizingof) are doing amazing designs.
Sandeep: The model I designed in Chapter 8 took me couple of hours before I got it down (BA-64B armored car)
Promoting your designs on the internet is actually fairly simple, (but not always easy). To get the initial spark of interest from a potential buyer (or blogger) you need One Perfect Image that clearly captures the intent of your design at a glance. Once you have the viewers attention only then you have an opportunity to close the sale a brief description/story for your design and a great price.
Everything I can tell you about selling your own pieces to customers face to face is only what I've experienced in the past few months since I started to take my Shapeways art to various events. One key piece of advice I would give is to have a small spiel ready explaining as briefly as possible what 3D printing is, in layman's terms. Of course if you're not much of a talker you can bring your smart phone or laptop and have a nice explanatory YouTube video handy. You would be surprised how many people don't have the slightest clue about 3D printing despite all the cool media attention it's been getting lately.
I personally started off selling my creations (a few themed stainless steel and sandstone pieces) at a Japanese Animation convention in their "Artists Alley". More recently I also started selling at an Arts Market in downtown San Francisco and in March will have a go at my first big convention which is Steampunk themed. A good way to go when starting out is to share art space with friends, it brings down costs and lets you take a few breaks. Sometimes things will sell, and sometimes they won't. If you try a selling venue out make sure to bring something to pass the time. You'll know by the first event or two if selling your pieces in person is your niche, or if you want to go running back into your pajamas to make all of your sales online.
If you can ignore the muzak for a minute and a half, check out the video by Objet that shows how to vacuum form from 3D printed parts (from transparent detail) using your home oven and a vacuum cleaner.
There are a myriad of videos on YouTube on how to make your own vac-form bed, perfect for making your own holiday chocolates..