3D Modeling


If you’re a frequent visitor to our space or this blog, you may know that we have a MakerBot Replicator. We pulled it out recently for Youth Maker Night, an event for older children and young teens. We figured it would be a fun thing to check out while people were snacking in between working on projects. Unfortunately, some of the printer settings were accidentally reset before the event started and we couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Some of the event-goers were pretty printer-savvy and made suggestions on how to fix it. We tried about six times, making small tweaks and adjustments, but it just wasn’t staying put properly.

My technical advisers eventually found something more interesting to do than wait for the printer to preheat (again), but other visitors wandered up to ask what was going on. Cora mentioned that she’d been interested in printing something specific. I suggested that we get her set up using some modeling software, and maybe attempt a print later on.


Since 123D Design was already open, we started there. She found the interface difficult to navigate and somewhat confusing, so I pulled up TinkerCAD. The website now runs on paid subscriptions, but I signed up long enough ago that I have a free “legacy” account. The interface is straightforward with enough complexity to be flexible, but not enough overwhelm a beginner. I walked Cora through the basics of creating a shape, create a cut-away, and navigating the model in 3D. We grabbed a ruler, too, to make sure her digital scale was correct.



I had to leave the event early, so Cora worked on her own to model her key, and then Kevin helped her figure out how to save the file into the correct (.stl) format. They tried running the printer again, but it was still uncooperative. Over the weekend Christian discovered and fixed the problem with the settings, and took a video of the key being printed:


He also took a photo of the final print. It’s rather grainy and hard to see the detail on, so I put it next to a white version of the 3D model for reference.

MAKESHOP will running 3D-printing demonstrations during select Sundays in March. Check the calendar for more information.

  1. Pingback: MAKESHOP » Field Trip: Mt Lebanon Public Library

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