Kristina Jonker Community Technologist
With everyone sharing all kinds of new crafts and ways to keep yourself busy at home, you may be finding that your creativity has been sparked! If you’ve been wanting to spend some time in our 3D Lab at Do Space, the great news is it’s easy to do a lot of prep work from home. Much of the software used in the lab is freely available online or has a free alternative. Let’s go over some options!
The Cricut Maker, and most Cricut machines, uses Cricut Design Space, which is available to use for free on their website. You simply create an account and download the software. Since it’s account based, you’ll even be able to save your projects and access them later from Do Space. If you’re using your own tablet or computer, you could also just bring that with you!
In addition to project ideas and templates, Cricut also has extensive tutorials for learning the ins and outs of Design Space. Check that out here: https://learn.cricut.com/design-space/overview
If you’re wanting to get into 3D printing, first you’re going to need a 3D model. We recommend Thingiverse.com if you are looking for something ready and freely available. However, if you are wanting to create your own 3D models for printing, there are a few great options that are all available to you at home.
One of the best and easiest places to start is TinkerCAD. This is a free, web-browser-based 3D modeling program with tons of easy-to-follow tutorials. It is simple to start, but don’t underestimate it. As you dig in, you’ll find that there’s more than meets the eye.
If you’re looking for something more advanced for 3D modeling, check out Blender or Fusion 360. Blender is free to use, while Fusion 360 has an option to get a free Hobbyist license. Both are powerful in their individual ways and have many tutorials available online.
At Do Space we have two options when it comes to 3D printing. You can check out a 3D printer to use yourself or submit your .stl file at the Tech Help desk for staff to print on the professional series printers. For both, you’ll need an .stl file saved onto a flash drive. Once you’ve finished your model, export it as an .stl and save it on a flash drive so it’s ready to go!
Similar to the Cricut above, our desktop CNC machine Carvey utilizes a free design software straight from the company that created it. Easel by Inventables is browser-based, meaning you don’t even have to download it to start planning out your future projects. Simply create an account, select Carvey under Machine at the top, and start designing. Your designs will be saved to your account for access at Do Space later on.
Easel is great because it not only gives you a live preview of your design as you build it, you also have the ability to select your material and bit for a more accurate representation of your finished product. There’s even an option to watch an animation of how the machine will engrave your piece! If you’re looking to get even more in-depth, Easel also has a Pro version available for a monthly subscription cost which gives you access to even more tools.
Last but certainly not least, we have the laser. If you haven’t had a chance to use the laser cutter at Do Space yet, here’s what you need to know. We use Adobe Illustrator to send .svg files to the laser machine as a ‘print’ job.
Any vectors that you want the laser to cut need to be:
Other vector without these characteristics or raster images in the document will be engraved or etched.
If you don’t have access to Adobe Illustrator at home, have no fear. Any vector program will do! A popular free offering is Inkscape. There are also free trial periods available for CorelDRAW and Affinity Designer. To make things easier, you can set your document size to 16 inches by 12 inches, the same size as the bed of the laser cutter. No matter which of these you use, all you need is to save your work as an .svg file onto a flash drive to bring it to Do Space.
The 3D Lab may be quiet for now, but there’s still plenty to do!