Stocking Stuffer: 3D prints!

Before my summer mini-mester earlier this year, 3D-printing was not anywhere in my scope of “things I could possibly do.” However, like a lot of my experiences at USG, I was given the chance to do something I had never done before.

As part of an engineering and design class (super exciting compared to the typical math methods or pedagogy course), we were assigned to create prototypes of a new product that would some problem. In addition to learning how to code/program, another helpful lesson to apply to our prototypes was creating 3D models using AutoCAD.

Image result for autocad 3d print

Image from AutoDesk Forums

For UMD students, it’s free through TERPware! All you have to do is create an account, sign in, and install.

Though it takes a while to get used to using the software, once you get past the initial learning curve, the opportunities are endless. Youtube will be your best friends in getting used to it, but there’s also tons of value in taking some time to mess around with the platform on your own. Click around!

After the design part comes to the printing. While the libraries on campus at UMD have printers, along with some other local libraries around the county, the option I’ve found most convenient is ordering it online. There are several websites to use. All you have to do is upload your 3D print file from your computer onto the website. Two I’ve had a little experience with is Scupteo and Hubs.

The total price depends on several different components, like how much it weighs, what materials you use, if you want a particular finish on it and shipping based on distance.

With the holidays just around the corner, I plan on 3D printing several small gifts for my colleagues. It’s an easy way to make gifts customized, down to every last detail. It’s a great way to practice problem-solving and use your own creative mind in a low-pressure setting. Happy printing!

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