Maker Training Camp: Design for Desktop 3D Printing

Let the technology inspire you! Create designs that are optimized for 3D Printing.
  • Lectures 64
  • Video 6 Hours
  • Skill level intermediate level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android

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Course Description

Desktop 3D printers are powerful tools for designers and hobbyists, but these machines present a unique set of design challenges. Learn to harness the design constraints of a desktop 3D printer by optimizing existing designs, or creating new designs that bend the rules, and push the limits of what is possible.

This course starts with an overview of the 3D printing process, and proceeds to an in depth exploration of the strengths and limitations of desktop 3D printing. This class is a great starting point for designers who want to bring their work to life with desktop 3D printing, or DIY 3D Printer owners who want to take their designs to the next level. To get the most out of this class, you should own or have access to a Desktop 3D printer, and be able to print successfully. You should also have basic CAD skills in a program of your choice, or additional time to devout to learning outside of this course. The course is platform agnostic and concept focused - choose the 3D printer, slicer and CAD program of your choice.

The course is designed in 3, week long segments, but you can listen to the pre-recorded material on your own timeline.

Week 1 focuses on basic topics like support material and rafts, as well as the software skills necessary to work with meshes. Learn to repair, cut flat bottoms, add custom support, plate and more with a variety of free software.

Week 2 focuses on intermediate topics like bridges and small details, with an emphasis on the implications in your design process. Develop a set of rules to guide your design process by testing your printer's abilities. Optional modeling tutorials are provided in 123D if you're looking for more help.

Week 3 focuses on color techniques, strength, flexibility and assembly strategies. Plan a complex, optimized project by combining 3 or more concepts discussed in the course in a final project. Optional modeling tutorials are provided for a variety of assembly strategies.

Each week ends with a project prompt to practice the skills in the week's lectures.

Get inspired and master the skills necessary to bring your design to life on a desktop 3D printer!

What are the requirements?

  • Desktop 3D Printer
  • Basic skills in a CAD program of your choice

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Over 64 lectures and 5.5 hours of content!
  • Learn the language & vocabulary of 3D Printing
  • Understand the qualities and limitations of Desktop 3D Printers
  • Create designs that are optimized for 3D Printing
  • Choose the right slicing settings for your design
  • Adapt & repair designs using free software tools
  • Learn basic solid modeling in 123D

What is the target audience?

  • 3D Designers who want to optimize their designs for 3D Printing
  • 3D Printer owners who want to start designing

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee

Forever yours.
Lifetime access

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion


Section 1: Week 1 - Getting Started and Basic Concepts

3D printing has its roots in rapid prototyping, but many desktop 3D printing users are doing something entirely different.  There are main categories: Prototypes, Portrayals & Products - and the category your work falls into will affect your design choices.
How does a 3D file become a 3D Print? STLs, Slicers, Gcode, and everything in between.
STL is a unitless filetype.  Learn why most 3DP users work in metric, and what work arounds are required for the imperial system.
Learn to identify the parts of a 3D print - rafts, perimeters, shells, infill and more.
What are rafts?  Why should I use them?  Why not?  What alternatives are there?
What is support material?  When should you use it, and when should you avoid it?  What workarounds exist?
A collection of design that showcase unique ways to avoid support material.
Section 2: Week 1 - Software Skills - Working with Meshes
Software Skills Intro
Learn basic navigation, and how to decimate STL files in meshlab to reduce file size.
Learn to use Meshlab to separate a single STL from a multi-part file.  
Learn how to navigate Netfabb Studio Basic, what the program is capable of, and a how to do an automatic repair.  The lesson also includes an intro to netfabb's cloud repair tool.
Learn to modify STLs to create flat bottoms with the cutting tools in Netfabb Studio Basic.
Learn to use Netfabb Studio Basic to slice a design in half to avoid support material.
Learn to plate your design with Makerware or Slic3r.
Mouse Ears with Makerware
Blender is a popular mesh program, but its diverse features can be daunting.  Learn basic navigation, moving, rotating, scaling, object & edit modes.  
Learn to use Blender to add custom designed support to an existing design.
Learn the basics of tinker cad, and why STL import is such a useful feature in this solid modeling program.  
Week 1 Review & Project
2 pages
Section 3: Week Two - Thread Width, Layer Height, Bridging and More
Week 2 Intro
Learn about thread width, or extrusion width, and how it affects wall thickness in a design.  Infill, shells & perimeters aren't just slicing settings.  These parameters can be important parts of your design.  Learn how to test your printer for threadwidth, and develop a set of design rules for your modeling process.
Unique example showing how to use thread width in interesting ways.
How do layer height, thread width and orientation influence resolution?
An exploration of interesting ways to exploit layer height in designs.
How small can you print on a 3D printer?  Discover your feature threshold through testing, and measuring.  The discussion includes positive features, negative features, and fonts.
You can print in mid-air with a 3D printer, and it's called Bridging.  Explore how your slicer interprets bridges by examining gcode in a visualizer, and designing work arounds to force bridging in the correct direction.
An exploration of creative commons designs exploring bridges.
This lecture is an overview of my personal design process and considerations while creating my 1:24 Windsor Chair design.  See how I combine my personal design rules for bridges, small details and thread width to create designs optimized for desktop 3D printing.
A step by step design process for planning a simple box with lid, using the concepts of thread width and more.  Tackle the project from two vantage points - a walled design, and a design meant to be sliced hollow.  
New to solid modeling?  Want to see how I tackle geometry in different ways?  This lecture covers ten ways to make a simple box, using tools common in CAD programs.  The lecture also includes an introduction to boolean operations, and tools you should look for in a solid modeler.
We end Week 2 with a practice project.  Choose to follow the 123D design tutorials, by creating and optimized lidded box.  Or, explore this week's topics in your own way by following any of these week's project prompts.
Section 4: Week 2 - Modeling Practice in 123D
123D Basics - Navigation
123D Basics - Moving & Cruising
123D Basics - The Manipulator
123D Basics - Attributes Panel
123D Basics - Smart Position
123D Basics - Groups, Solids & Voids
123D Basics - Parts & Materials
123D Basics - Export to STL
Design a Box & Lid in 123D Online
123D Shortcuts & Tips
Section 5: Week Three - Color, Strength, Flexibility, Assemblies
In this lecture, we explore strength and flexibility in ABS & PLA.  How do you orient parts for the most strength?  How can you accomplish flexibility in rigid plastics?
Explore more ways to achieve flexibility by studying designs in the creative commons.
There are many ways to utilize color in 3D prints.  From dual extruders, to layer based color swaps, this lectures explores how to incoprate multiple colors in one print.
Color - Examples & Ideas
Explore projects in the creative commons that have tackled large, multi part prints.  What types of placement pins or keys can you add to a design, and what are the best practices to do so?
There are four tried an true ways to tackle movable and interlocking joints in 3D prints.  Explore these strategies, by viewing successful designs, and gleaning tips to apply to your own projects.
Learn the secrets to print-in-place and pre-assembled interlocking parts.  
Assemblies - Hardware & Vitamins
Design Research - Discover Tolerances with Netfabb
Section 6: Week 3 - Modeling Techniques for Assemblies
Placement Pins
Snap Together Dimple Hinges
This is a lengthy lecture - the first third is reproducing a derivative of the impossible dovetail, and the second two thirds shows various ways to expand and alter the design with tools in 123D.
Slot Ball Joint
Print In Place Hinges
Section 7: Wrap Up & Final Project
Concept Wrap Up
11 slides
1 page

Showcase what you've learned in this course.  Combine three or more concepts covered in this course to create an optimized, 3D printable design.  Use this worksheet to plan your design process and tackle a complex project head on.  Get ready to share your final project with your fellow classmates.

Section 8: Live Lectures and By Request
Notes & Overview
This is a live lecture recorded in a google hangout on July 8th.  Learn to repair a 123D Catch scan with meshmixer. The source file OBJ is available to download on the linked thingiverse page - try the scan repair yourself!
This tutorial was recorded during a live google+ hangout.  TinkerCAD does additions, and subtractions easily, but the third type of boolean operation isn't as straight forward.  Check out this video for an easy workflow for performing intersections in TinkerCAD.
Orientation & Iteration: Two Projects
123D Basics: Intro to Modifiers
123D Pro Tip: Bodies and Features

Instructor Biography

Kacie Hultgren , 3D Designer

Kacie Hultgren is more commonly known as PrettySmallThings in the 3D printing universe.  Kacie is a scenic designer in the theatre industry, and was recently profiled in Stage Directions and Wired for her work using her 3D Printer to create scale set models. Her delicate designs are Thingiverse favorites.  She is an expert AutoCAD user, and brings enthusiasm for craft & design to 3D printing.  

Instructor Biography

Parker Thomas , Education Director, Maker Media

Parker is the Education Director for Maker Media and is organizing these courses. Maker Media is a global platform for connecting makers with each other, with products and services, and with our partners. Through media, events and ecommerce, Maker Media serves a growing community of makers who bring a DIY mindset to technology. Whether as hobbyists or professionals, makers are creative, resourceful and curious, developing projects that demonstrate how they can interact with the world around them. 

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    • Keith Woeltje

    Got me going on 3D design

    Making your own designs for 3D printing has a steep learning curve. This course was exactly what I needed to get started. Kacie provides a solid introduction to the basics and teaches enough about the tools to get you going. I've now successfully designed and printed my own robot parts!

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