Welcome to Design for 3D Printing 101: Intro to Design for 3D Printing.
When you are designing for 3D printing there are two main factors that you really need to take into account before you start.
What application to design with
What material you are designing for
In this first introductory session, we are going to look at choosing the right type 3D modeling software.
There are now many 3D modeling applications you can use to 3D model your designs to 3D Print, ranging from very expensive professional engineering software to free online tools to get you started. Choosing the right software is an important first step in ensuring you can realize your ideas with 3D printing.
If you want to create organic, sculptural forms and characters to 3d Print, you may want to start with freeform surface modeling software. This modeling process represents the surface of the object, not its volume. With this method you will manipulate the surface of the model to create the form with points and curves. This gives you the freedom to do flowing forms, but can sometimes make it harder to achieve tight tolerances if your design is made to integrate an external object.
If you are looking to engineer a product (or robot) for 3D Printing, you are better off using Solid Modeling Software. This process defines the volume of the object you wish to model, by creating solid geometry, which you then modify by extruding or cutting away mass. The "Design for 3D Printing 101" image above was modeled using TinkerCad, a browser based 3D modeling application with drag and drop functionality to make it very easy to get started.
You can of course experiment with each to to find what works best for you, but often the tools within the application are designed for a specific kind of geometry. There is a relatively steep learning curve when you start to learn to 3D model, but once you hold your first design in your hand, it makes those challenges a pleasure.
There are a number of free applications in each type that you may want to download and play around with to get a feel, watch tutorial on YouTube and ask questions in the Shapeways forums as there is a wealth of knowledge within the Shapeways community.
In the next Design for 3D Printing 101, we will look a little closer at some of the 3D modeling software options available to get you started 3D printing.
Launched by Mayor Bloomberg at the Shapeways Factory of the Future, Next Top Makers is New York City's is challenge makers, designers, and engineers to create product prototypes.
New York's Next Top Makers is a challenge to prototype new designs
that have commercial potential. The goal of the challenge is to support
design-driven production, and promote a culture of innovation and
commercialization within New York City's industrial business, design and
Starting in mid November, makers, designers, engineers and others
will be invited to enter prototypes in the challenge. It is anticipated
that New York's Next Top Makers will be open for submissions until
mid February 2013.
Finalists will be selected by an expert judging panel, and will
receive assistance on the path to commercialization during the studio
phase. Assistance will include studio space from sponsor NYDesigns,
business support, and mentorship from industry experts such as Adafruit
Industries, Honeybee Robotics and Shapeways. It is anticipated that the
studio phase will run from April to August. Judges will award an
additional cash prize to the most promising winner following the studio
We introduced Polished White Strong & Flexible Nylon 3D Printing back in May 2011 and have seen your prints coming out looking much more smooth and professional feeling. Those making twisty puzzles now assemble their designs without the need for sanding prior to assembly and those painting their 3D Prints can do so with less preparation time and effort.
One downside is the size of 3D Print that can currently be polished is limited to 150x150x150mm so not all Nylon 3D Prints can be post-processed in this way. To polish your 3D Prints we place them in a giant vibratory tumbler with an abrasive medium that smooths the surface. The tumbling process can be a little rough on really fine 3D Printed wires so the minimum thickness for these kind of features in your design must be at least 0.9mm, over 1mm is preferred.
We do not currently offer smooth color 3D Printing but it is something we may offer in the near future. The current dying process does not react well to polishing but if we were to introduce polished colors we may need to limit the size from the current 230x180x130mm to 150x150x150mm. The result is there may be a few models that cannot be printed in color, but all color models would be nice and smooth, less stepping, less rough edges.
Let us know what you think? would you like ALL of your 3D prints to one day arrive at your doorstep silky smooth, is there any other post processing you would like to see? Let us know your thoughts...
The Designer Spotlight for this week focuses on Wesley Gunter who takes inspiration from all around him and turns it into wearable 3D printed designs.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I am Wesley Gunter (Krijntjes) a young Dutch designer living and working in Bergen op Zoom. I work at a Hi Tech Sheet Metal Processing plant welding, programming Mig and Tig Welding Robots and now and then I design a welding mold for the robots. I also have a little business of my own Gunter Art & Design.
What's the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
Me and my girlfriend see a lot of beautiful things in this awesome world and I do my best to transform those things into wearable 3D Printed designs. I also like food and light so now and then I design something in that area. Music, fashion and above all FUN are the keywords.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
I wanted to make a keychain casting mold for the company I work for, I was looking for a milling company, but then I stumbled on Shapeways and thought why make a mold when you can print the design?
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I had some experience with 2D in high school and when I had some free time at the company I worked for, I would play a little with the 3D software they have. Then I downloaded Blender on my own laptop and the shaping began. I knew how I would make something in real life so I approached my designing on the computer in the same way.
How do you promote your work?
The most promoting I do is with my Facebook page, and I also have a Twitter account @Gunterartdesign. I give almost every prototype I print away to family and friends so they can spread the word for me!
Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
Morten Linde designs very cool watches that I like a lot, and Nervous System and Museum of Small Things have the most amazing designs I have ever seen. They drive me to design cool things that I myself would like to have.
If you weren't limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
If I had the time, knowledge and money I would love to 3D print an interstellar space craft that could fit me and my girlfriend and a bit of food drinks and go on a little vacation around the galaxy. I would like to encourage everybody to design the things they like the most and in a couple of years we all can buy custom products right here at Shapeways!
Check out his varied designs on his Shapeways Shop Gunter Art and Design.
TinkerCad is a perfect tool to get started designing for 3D Printing thanks to it's drag and drop capabilities. Because it is browser based you never need to download or update the software. You always have the latest version.
Thanks again to the team at TinkerCad for putting the video together...
We have updated the downloadable files for customization now that we have been able to test the fit, especially around the corners for the iPhone 5, the case can be downloaded here, and the bumper here.
This is urban planning for people who thought the best part of Monopoly was playing with the little houses and hotels. At Louisville, Kentucky's Ideas festival, community members got the chance to rearrange the city and try out new ideas for future development, all with the help of 1/1000 scale 3D printed models of existing city buildings.
The buildings were printed out live at the event by local hackerspace LVL1, who had collaborated with University of Kentucky architecture students to develop the models. Attendees were not only able to move the 3D printed buildings around the huge map of the city, but the building's designs could be modified via Google SketchUp and printed live on one of the five 3D printers that LVL1 provided. Sort of a real-life D&D tabletop game, although with no dice or goblins, and more discussions of traffic patterns and zoning designations.
The interactive event was used to kick-off Vision Louisville, a planning initiative to shape the next 25 years of the city's development. The city plans to hold on to the 3D printed building models and record the ideas that were developed on the map for future use. Louisville is not the first city to get the 3D printing treatment, Chicago was rendered in 3D in 2009 as part of an exhibit by the Chicago Architectural Foundation.
Sound like a lot of fun (maybe even more than Monopoly), and if you want to get going on arranging your own city, maybe check out these sweet buildings from Shapeways' own pfeiffer stylez.
Ikea is using 3D Renders as it is faster and cheaper than photographing an object in different settings, it also means they can prepare the catalogue artwork before the product is in production. Ikea as a brand is reliable enough that we understand the basic quality of product we will receive if we purchase from the catalogue.
Kickstarter is moving away from 3D renders so backers can better understand the quality of the product they will receive. The projects on Kickstarter are not (often) from a reliable brand, so people are taking a risk that they can actually deliver the product they promise, to an acceptable quality, in a timely manner.
Shapeways renders your 3D model as soon as you upload it so you can preview your design before you 3D Print it for yourself. We recommend that you do 3D Print and photograph any product you would like to sell so that your customers can see exactly what they will get. Like Ikea, uploading photorealistic renders is often faster and cheaper than taking photographs but like Kickstarter potential buyers of your designs are relying on these images to determine the look, feel and scale of the design as proof that your design will work. This is the reason we only promote products that have photographs, not renders to ensure that your customers have a better understanding of what they will receive.
We would love to get your thoughts, are there any scenarios where you think a render is suitable?
We announced the contest to win $500 worth of Shapeways 3D Printing last week and have already seen a few designs for the iPhone 5 trickle in but we wanted to make it a little easier for you with a few 3D files to download that might help.
Please note we are waiting for the 3D Prints to come back and of course we have not yet tested them on an iPhone 5 yet.....
You can download the STL files to modify in your 3D software of choice as long as it supports STL import, we have also uploaded the case to TinkerCad along with the bumper and the dummy iPhone 5 so you can start customizing the design even if you do not have any 3D CAD skills, yet...
The iPhone 5 has now been announced and about go on sale on in the U.S. so we want to see what innovative new designs you come up with to 3D Print for the latest iteration of the iPhone to hit the market.
Continuing our series of Solidworks 3D modeling tutorials for 3D Printing by SolidWize, this week they explain Validating your Design with SimulationXpress:
You just received your bright new 3D printed part and the unthinkable happens; it breaks. With the right model prep, this can be avoided. Last week I did a post on creating a one handed bottle opener modeled after the Kebo from Rush Design. The last thing you would want to happen is to have your brand new bottle opener break the first time you use it. That's why in this week's tutorial by SolidWize, I'll be talking about validating your design using SolidWorks SimulationXpress. The most suitable Shapeways material for this use case would be Stainless Steel.
SimulationXpress is a fairly simple tool to use, and can allow you to quickly verify that your model will have adequate strength.
Watch the full tutorial below. If you'd like to follow along, you can download the SolidWorks file from my GrabCad Profile.
From time to time, you'll likely come across an image of something you
want to create a 3D model from. With SolidWorks, you can use the sketch
picture tool to import an image to build from. This Kebo bottle opener by Rush Product Design Studio makes for a great example, and we'll use it in this weeks tutorial from SolidWize.
By bringing the picture into a sketch, you can quickly reproduce the
desired geometry inside of SolidWorks using just a few lines, arcs, and
the fully define sketch tool.
Watch the full tutorial below. If you right click and save the picture
of the Kebo, you'll be able to follow along. You can also download the
completed model from the Solidwize Shapeways page.
Autodesk offer free 3 year software licenses under their assistance program for Students, Faculty and Displaced Workers.
This is an awesome program for students and/or the unemployed to get their hands on some professional tools (including 3D modeling software), hone their skills and knowledge of software to make them an asset to an employer or maybe even start your own business.