From Idea to 3D object

How do you get your project from idea to 3D object?

  • There are websites with readymade objects that you can download (some objects are free and others cost):

  *  Makerbot Thingiverse


  • Design your own objects using a modeling software:

 * some softwares are costly, like AutoCad


  • Or, use a FREE application to design your object:

      *  Autodesk has 123d Create Family (more below under "Use a hand-held camera")
      *  Tinkercad is web-based software
      *  Thingiverse has web utilities to customize you Thingiverse object
      *  Cubify Draw is an application for ipad --  you draw on the tablet and the ap allows you to adjust the  shape’s thickness and height, then you save the .stl file, which you can print (see
      *  Doodle 3D sketching tool

      *  Create your 3D model using Goodle Sketchup
           -- Youtube example --  "3D Printing from Google Sketchup Model- Tutorial"  (

           -- Youtube example -- "Beginner's Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure" (

      *  Create your 3D model using Blender
           -- Youtube example – “????

      *  Use photo software to convert a 2D image to a 3D Object
           -- Youtube example --  "Blender-converting 2D Image to 3D Object” (


  • Scaning your object is another option

       *  Clever and economically minded DIYers construct their own homemade scanners
            -- Youtube example -- How to make a 3D scanner. – webcam, laser pointer, and free software (

   *  The Cadillac model of scanners are the industry scanners, where an inexpensive scanner starts at about $19K
Example video from the Smithsonian

      *  DAVID Laserscanner a software package used in building you own scanning system (you will need a camera and a line laser).  Your scanner will be is part proprietary software and part build-it-yourself.

      *  The NextEngine 3D Scanner HD has lasers that sweep over your object, the software pieces together each of the multiple scans.  It costs about 3,000 to purchase the scanner, rotating platform to hold your small object, and software. 
           --  Youtube example --“Digitizing Everything w/ NextEngine 3D Scanner HD - I even scan a Chicken” (


  • Use a hand-held camera

      *  Using a hand-held camera, you can take pictures by walking around an object (or rotating the object), and then stitch the images together with free software called 123D Catch by Autodesk.

           -- Example using Autodesk 123D -- "Dinosaur Skeleton from Photos" (

           -- Youtube example -- "Autodesk 123D Tutorial” in which Ben Heck designs and 3D prints an enclosure for his Raspberry Pi computer. (
           -- Youtube example -- “A Comparison of Capture Methods for 123D Catch” (
           -- Youtube example -- “How to Make 3D Models from Pictures”  (  University of Illinois student Ehsan Noursalehi is studying industrial design.  He  is using Autodesk’s 123D Catch to create 3D models of objects and then he manipulates them on a computer.  Ehsan Noursalehi posts the following web links:

123D Catch Download:
123D Catch Tutorials:

Mudbox & 3ds Download:
Mudbox Tutorials:
3ds Max Tutorials:


  • Microsoft Kinect camera is an inexpensive DIY solution.

          --  "How It Works: Xbox Kinect" (

           --  Youtube example -– “Real-time Kinect 3D scanning with ReconstructMe” (

           --  Youtube example –- “Kinect 3D scanner tutorial for instructables” (

           --  Youtube example –-  "Scanning, Modelling, & Printing 3D Objects with Kinect & ReconstructMeQT" ( continues on "3D Prints of 3D Scanned & Modelled Objects" (

           --  Example –-  "Scientists Hack Kinect to Study Glaciers and Asteroids" (