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Using TinkerCad to build a 3D project

The best way to start designing for a 3D printer is to play with the online program, TinkerCad. This has been our go-to program for our Tinkering Tuesdays in March & April. It does require an internet connection so prepare in advance for any wireless connection issues.

We have been able to go from zero knowledge to creating some funny objects pretty fast using this powerful software. Sign up for a free account and you're ready to build. They have online tutorials to guide you through the beginning process upon your first sign in. My only complaint is they don't have anyway to accurately tell you that you have completed the lesson before moving on to the next. We are fortunate enough to have a Lynda.com account which hosts TinkerCad tutorials too but she talks very fast! Between these two resources, we quickly came up to speed with an accessible program that patrons can work with even at home.



For TinkerCad, it's all about already made shapes (including letters and numbers) so if that's the way you like to draw you are in luck. By combining and manipulating circular shapes, our talent staff member Lindsey was able to make a PEEP award for our diorama contest.

In my opinion, one of the hardest things about TinkerCad is making sure you are level with the work plane (the graph in blue) and each piece sits directly on top of each other.

Always be aware of the size of what students are designing (it is in metric).  We required everyone to stick with very flat designs in the beginning which was easier for our Cube printers to print (since they don't have a heated plate and tend to have issues sticking to the glass plate if the base design is flimsy) and it enabled more kids to get a chance to see their items printed in real time. If a completed print job was over a half an hour they had to come pick it up next class.  When students couldn't finish their project during our hour and a half each week they were able to go home and work on them through their own web browser and internet connection. This was perfect homework motivation because the next week they would be ready to print something when class started and feel the accomplishment of taking it home that very day.

Check out these great keyboard shortcuts-tinkercad.

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