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3D Printing - An Introduction

This guide will provide a general introduction to 3D printing.

3D Design & Modeling Programs

For those wanting to try their hand at designing their own 3D models, there are also quite a number of good free programs to work in. These range from basic learning programs, to professional quality modeling environments.

  • Tinkercad - A browser-based 3D design platform. Simple to use and good for learning the basics of CAD design. Free with an Autodesk account. You can take our Introduction to 3D Modeling & Design class to learn how to use Tinkercad.
  • OpenSCAD - An open source CAD program that focuses on the computer aided side. The program creates 3D models by compiling code inputted by the user, specifying the models settings. Good for those with a programming background.
  • Fusion 360 - A powerful CAD program that allows for modeling 3D printable files and the creation of machine files and renderings. Free for personal use through Autodesk.
  • Blender - A powerful, open source 3D creation suite. Allows building and editing of 3D models, in addition to 3D modeling for animations, and video editing. Steep learning curve but large user community for support.

Logos of Tinkercad, OpenSCAD, Fusion 360, and Blender

3D Print Repositories

For those wanting simply to try printing out ready made 3D models, there are many options. 3D printing repositories are sites that gather user-submitted models that anyone can download and print. Some models are for purchase from their designers, but there is no end to what can be found for free.

  • Thingiverse - One of the largest repositories of 3D models on the web. Files are free to download or remix.
  • MyMiniFactory - Another large repository. Includes many artist & designer created files for purchase, along with free files. Also includes the Scan the World project, which is a community build repository of 3D scanned sculpture and cultural artifacts.
  • NIH 3D Print Exchange - A user submitted collection of 3D printable models related to biomedical science and healthcare.

Logos for NIH 3D Print Exchange, MyMiniFactory, and Thingiverse