3D Printing Resources for Beginners

This video, Massimo Banzi: How Arduino is open-sourcing imagination was filmed in June of 2012 and it was one my first introductions to 3D printing. I heard about it on NPR that same month when Ira Flatow said, Can 3D Printers Reshape The World?. Since then I have learned a lot more, but I’m barely scraping the surface. I’m a newbie and this post is for beginners like me looking for pathways into the 3D printing world. So to start, I’ll start you where I started, with this video:

Here are some links and information included in the video:

  • Thingiverse – now “MakerBot Thingiverse” – a place for you to share your digital designs.
  • Arduino – an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
  • Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design – An international centre of excellence for interaction design and innovation; seems to have replaced Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.
  • Creative Commons License – copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates.
  • GNU General Public License (GPL) – The GNU General Public License is a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works.
  • Android (Google) Accessory Development Kit (ADK) – a reference implementation for hardware manufacturers and hobbyists to use as a starting point for building accessories for Android.

So it turns out that that video, while it mentions 3D printing in the beginning, has more to do with the Maker revolution. Here’s some 3D printing resources I collected:

What software should I use if I’m a beginner in 3D design?

  • Google provides a free, easy to use application called Google Sketchup. This tool allows you to design everything you want in 3D, through an intuitive interface, and offers free 3D models for download.
  • Wings 3D is another free 3D application; the website has a forum, which is very useful to find answers to all your questions.
  • Blender is available for free, but targets a more experienced audience.
  • Newcomer Sculptris works like you are sculpting directly from clay.
  • Make Human is a free specialized in human body 3D designs and lets you play with all body and face details. Amazing!
  • (versions compatible with Sculpteo for 3D printing: “Nightly Build” or v. 0.9.1).
  • GLC Player is a free application which allows you to easily view 3D models. It’s lighter than regular modelling software so comes in handy when you just need to quickly check a 3D model before uploading it to sculpteo.com (are the materials properly linked to the model ? Are the textures in the right place? Has the model changed before and after the export?). GLC Player also lets you categorize 3D models into albums (like you would with a photo album).
  • 3D Model to Print (3DMTP) – A revolutionary cloud-based software service, focused on 3D architectural models. 3DMTP automatically, efficiently and economically transforms 3D designs, from BIM, 3D CAD, SketchUp software and other 3D visualization software into scalable and 3D printable model files.
  • Online Service
  • 3D Tin – A free browser-based CAD editor. Perfect for beginners and young makers, but with a growing list of advanced features attracting professional 3D artists as well.
  • Autodesk 123D – Free, fun, easy to use apps to take you from photos to modeling to making.

What 3D printing services are available?

  • Shapeways – a 3D Printing marketplace and community.
  • Sculpteo – Innovative 3D printing service for creative people – great FAQ with lots of resources

What 3D printers are available?

Are there any other 3D printing guides?

  • MAKE Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing

Other Free Design Software:

  • Dia – Diagramming tool like Microsoft Visio
  • Auto CAD trial (CD or Download)
  • Smart Draw

I recently identified 3D printing as one of the 13 Trends That Are Changing the World and will soon be writing up a list of 10 Ways to Make Money from 3D Printing.