Cool Tools for 3D Printing

So you just discovered that your friendly neighborhood faculty support center (i.e. the Exchange) has a 3D printer.  What are you gonna do about it?  Good question.  How could 3D printing help your content come to life?

Option 1:  Print an existing model with which students could engage

The MakerBot Thingiverse has a library of literally (and I’m using this term in the original sense of ‘literally’) thousands of printable objects that are available for free.  Quite a few of them could be used to great effect in an educational environment as an object for students to engage with.  But Thingiverse isn’t the only game in town for 3D Printable objects.  Check out these other warehouses:

United States Electoral Vote Map

United States Electoral Vote Map

Apollonian Cone (Conic Sections)

Apollonian Cone (Conic Sections)

Worm Gear Reducer

Worm Gear Reducer

Double Helix

Double Helix

Option 2:  Capture something in your environment

Do you have an iOS device?  123D Catch can turn a series of photos into a 3D model in literally an instant (okay, this time I’m using ‘literally’ in the virtually sense.  It’s perfectly fine.  It is in the dictionary.).  Just download the app and get started.  If you don’t have an iOS device, you can take photos with any camera and upload them to the web app.  Then clean up your files so that they are ready for printing.

You could capture a statue, a person, a vegetable.  You could capture anything, but it is definitely easiest if the thing you capture holds still.

Option 3:  Build something from scratch using free software

123D Design

A free 3D design tool from AutoDesk

Trimble Sketchup with STL Plugin

A simple 3D design desktop tool.  The Exchange offers classes on Sketchup, so if you want some in-person support on 3D design, sign up!


Build printable objects in a web-based editor using simple shape objects

Option 4:  Ask your students to design something

The MakerBot Replicator at the Exchange is for faculty use only.  However, if your students designed a magnificent creation that you would like to print, do it!  Consider having student design teams compete for the prize of having their digital 3D creation printed for all to behold.

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Posted in Cool Tools, The Exchange
10 comments on “Cool Tools for 3D Printing
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  2. Dany says:

    I’ve really enjoyed reading and watching the above video and have to say that i use to read this 3D printing blog for everything related to 3d printers, games figurines and 3d files.

  3. Jacob Arch says:

    If you don’t have an iOS device, you can take a photo with any camera and upload it to your web app write my assignment UK. Then clean up your files so they can be printed.

  4. roman davis says:

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