During our 3D printing demonstration on our 1st anniversary celebration I received a lot of questions regarding 3D modelling. Questions included: what programs can I start with? What 3D modelling facilities do you have here at Do Space? How do I 3D print the results?

In light of that curiosity I am here to talk about the basics of 3D modelling and hopefully get you started.

At least once or twice a month we offer an introductory class to 3D modelling called ‘3D SketchUp Basics’. Primarily an architectural modelling program, SketchUp is ideal for beginners, fun and best of all – free. In addition to that, we offer access to the SketchUp Pro version on all of our computers and have installed an extension that allows you to export your 3D model in the format needed for 3D printing at Do Space – an .STL file.

SketchUp is a great starting point if you are interested in developing your 3D modelling skills. I always suggest starting with a program like SketchUp and using it until you outgrow it, at which point you can move onto some of the more advanced 3D modelling programs out there. Try to use each one as a stepping stone. Other 3D modelling programs on offer here at Do Space include:

Blender – A free and open-source 3D creation suite available on most computers.

AutoCAD – A computer-aided design (CAD) program used to create blueprints for buildings, bridges, and computer chips, among other things. It is very popular, commercially-speaking. Available on select computers.

SolidWorks – Another solid modelling computer-aided design (CAD) program. Like AutoCAD it is often used for commercial and educational purposes. Due to its advanced features it is a program that is best learnt with instruction from a mentor or online learning resources.

3D Builder – An application native to Windows 10 that is used to make, prepare, view, repair and print 3D models.

Cura – Technically, Cura is our 3D printing software, however it does allow for some minor modifications of 3D models.

If you still find the idea of using 3D modelling software daunting then you do have a couple of options. www.thingiverse.com is a great online resource for downloading open-source pre-made 3D models. By using the search bar you should be able to find a model in the category you are looking for. You could then modify the existing model using our software at Do Space. Giving credit to the designer is encouraged. In addition, it is now possible to save models created in our Minecraft server and prepare them for 3D printing. For more information refer to our recent blog posts on the subject or if you have more questions about this feel free to ask Dale, our Minecraft expert at the Tech Desk.

Lastly, a little while ago my brother Lucas – down in Australia – shared his portfolio of 3D models with me that he has been diligently working on in his spare time. Impressed as I was with some of his models I thought they could provide some inspiration for Do Space patrons that are interested in 3D modelling or its possibilities. The two models I’ve included below demonstrate what can be modelled from scratch. The software he used to create the old house and the space pod is called AutoDesk Maya and can be used by beginner and advanced users alike. As the models were not originally sculpted with 3D printing in mind I did have to use 3D builder to prepare the models, but all in all they came out quite good. Capturing the detail from the models also would have been improved by printing them at a larger size. If you like these 3D models then you can find more at https://www.artstation.com/artist/lucaskelly. If you would like to see the rest of our collection of 3D prints then head on over to Do Space.

If you have any further questions please ask our staff and volunteers at the tech desk or head to our website and check out ‘available software’ under the ‘Technology’ section.

Sean out.

About Author
Sean Kelly, Community Technologist

Sean is an Australian abroad. He is living in Omaha and working at Do Space as a part-time technologist with the desire to gain a valuable insight into U.S. community and culture. Sean has embraced his role at Do Space by combining his enthusiasm for technology with his various backgrounds as a tradesman, audio-visual technician and graduate of International Studies. You may have seen him at the tech desk or conducting classes in the 3D lab.