How can I learn to create models for 3D printing?


I've recently bought a 3D printer and waiting for it to be delivered I've given quite a lot of time to looking things up on Thingiverse. I see people create incredible models with gears, screws, lids and a lot of very cool and functional connectors (there are some project for boxes with an iris tipe lid that can be printed already assembled as a single model). I'd like to learn to do some of that as well. At the moment I have some proficiency with Blender where I can navigate the interface and sketch up some simple shaped model without any of the functional parts described above. My question therefore is:

Are there any tutorials that could help me create better models? If I need to I'm ready to learn to use a software other than Blender. I've tried searching for a similar question but found nothing.


Posted 2016-11-21T23:31:38.203

Reputation: 51

Question was closed 2016-11-23T21:11:36.000

Hi, welcome to the site! Unfortunately I think this question isn't a good fit, because it is far too broad. We prefer questions that have technical answers that fit within a few paragraphs. "How do I do X in 3D modelling software Y?" is a good question. "How do you learn modelling software Z?" is on the edge. "How do I learn modelling software full stop." is without a doubt too broad. – Tom van der Zanden – 2016-11-22T06:50:41.617

Hi! As pointed out by Tom, your question is very generic, and therefore have no single good answer. However, I found another question that might be considered a duplicate of your question (except for the particular model the OP wants to create). Does perhaps this question answer your own?

– Tormod Haugene – 2016-11-23T21:14:25.677



The answer to your question is yes, there are tutorials to help you create better models. Unfortunately, the back-story to the answer is beyond the scope of StackExchange.

Don't limit yourself to Blender, especially if you are attempting to create non-organic (engineering-type) models. Blender is great for curves and bulges and bumps (and animation, and so much else) but not so great for parametric modeling. Meshmixer is a useful program, but more organic than engineering.

Consider to search for OpenSCAD, Fusion 360, TinkerCAD, but also use terms such as "parametric 3d modeling software" to find a wider range of solutions to your quest. The above programs are free, there are too many paid programs to list even a small number.

Oh, yeah, stay away from SketchUp for any 3d print modeling. So many failure modes result from models created with that program.


Posted 2016-11-21T23:31:38.203

Reputation: 8 399

TinkerCAD has a very intuitive interface and a set of starting tutorials that got me to understand the basic controls in under 30 minutes. Although it seems a little simplistic I'll definitely be using it. Thanks for the advice. OpenSCAD however feels very rough at first impact and I don't feel like I really understand it after around 1 hour of monkeying around. It does however feel much more powerful than TinkerCAD in allowing me to design more complex shapes so I'll keep looking into it. – BlueCloud – 2016-11-22T13:33:41.267

Fusion 360 is a little hard to obtain and I seem to understand that there is no support for linux. It's been a while since i last booted windows but I'll definitely give it a try as soon as I can. Thank you for your answer. – BlueCloud – 2016-11-22T13:37:32.503

Ah, linux. Another piece of information missing from the question post. That does make things more difficult for you. You have to find the software that does what you want and hope there's enough secondary activity that someone has created videos and tutorials to cover it. I suppose you can restrict yourself to web-based software, but that's not always an easy answer either. OpenSCAD is in an always-developing stage and is indeed powerful, but depends on the code-writer's skill for the power level determination. – fred_dot_u – 2016-11-22T15:41:23.370

onshape is a good tool to get some good cad out. – albseb – 2016-11-22T20:59:12.833


I think rather than looking for a tutorial at this stage, it might be instructive to watch some videos on tuning and calibration (since these touch on what is difficult). Also download Cura (or some other slicer of your choice) and look into how your existing models would be printed layer by layer. Cura has a layer slider so you can step through the design.

So, to make an attempt at answering what I think could be a good question, things to research whilst waiting for your printer are:

  1. Print failure examples and calibration;
  2. Parametric 3D modelling packages;
  3. Slicer operation (this ties in with calibration).

Sean Houlihane

Posted 2016-11-21T23:31:38.203

Reputation: 3 622

Thanks for the advice! Since my printer (Anet A8) will come as a kit to be assembled, I've already looked at all the youtube assembly and calibration videos I could find. After reading your answer I started digging into videos about slicers and was quite surprised to find out that changing the slicer can produce such different results on the same printer. – BlueCloud – 2016-11-22T13:43:22.167

I got mine last week, and I'm happy with the results so far. – Sean Houlihane – 2016-11-22T13:46:00.060