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Part 8: Designing for 3D Printing

So, you have found your perfect 3D printing solution, created the right environment and everyone is excited about it. How do you now find the right design resources or even use CAD (Computer Aided Design) software to design your own models? In this article, we look at some of the resources available to take you from zero to hero, or something in between. 
Ever since 3D printing was first introduced to the education sector, design resources and online guides have come a long way. So, no need to worry that you lack the design skills to support 3D printing in your school or university. There are resources and training expertise to help you get the most out of your 3D printers.
Let’s start with the design software used in 3D printing.
What is CAD?
If you are not a technical school or a 3D printing novice then you may not have heard of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. CAD is design software used to create, modify and optimize designs, commonly used in engineering and manufacturing. 3D printing designs require CAD software where you create a model, but if you are not experienced in CAD do not worry, there is help available. Online tools, guides and editable 3D designs help you and your students develop skills.

Uncover Your Design Journey
There is no doubt that the true value of 3D printing is realized when you learn to design for 3D printing rather than rely on existing online designs. There is a growing number of online resources and tools that help you introduce 3D printing into your classroom and develop your own and your students’ 3D design skills:
  1. Tinkercad: a free tool that is popular because it is simple to use and provides bitesize lessons as well as designs from the community that you can download. It takes as little as an hour to complete a lesson and develop your 3D printing skills.
  2. Sketchup: a paid for tool that offers designs, tools and tutorials for beginners, intermediates and experts. Education specific resources are also available and for technical students, you can also find engineering and architecture tools and designs.
  3. Vectory: a tool that allows you to customize thousands of 3D designs. It offers a free trial and is a natural progression from Tinkercard.
  4. AutoCAD by Autodesk: the go to tool for schools and students. It is offered as a free trial and special pricing offers post trial. It has a wealth of tools and projects and is the perfect progression, once you have outgrown free tools. For absolute beginners check out Fusion360, created by Autodesk this online tool is becoming increasingly popular with schools due to its simplicity and access anywhere, anytime licensing.
  5. SolidWorks: used by many technical schools and is a purchasable resource. It offers a wealth of tools and resources for the experienced 3D designer including white papers and webinars.
  6. Thingiverse: provides lesson plans, designs and enables users to share previous 3D printing projects, created by teachers for teachers. It covers 3D printing projects from K-5 through to university age.
Note: Y Soft is not associated with any of these products or companies and offers them as recommendations only.
Locate Your Perfect Trainer
It is important to remember that assistance is out there when you need it. There are a growing number of 3D printing design trainers and you will be able to find one in your local area. Your trainer will help you train your faculty as well as support you in building a development plan to take your school or university from zero to hero in 3D printing design. If you are new to 3D printing, joining a community offers you a free opportunity to dip your toe in the water. FabLabs is an online community that enables you to work with other teachers or students on projects. With Fablabs, you can work with your local community to problem solve and collaborate.

Our Favorite 3D Printing Teaching Tools
There is growing number of resources and tools available online that help teachers introduce 3D printing into their classroom. For example, Thingiverse provides lesson plans, designs and previous 3D printing projects, created by teachers for teachers. It covers 3D printing projects from primary school through to university. Other resources exist where curriculum can be purchased.

Learn more about 3D Printing in Education

Introducing 3D Printing into the Classroom is a series of articles designed to help educators and IT administrators in education understand 3D printing, how 3D printing can enhance the learning experience and the considerations about the 3D printing ecosystem. Understanding the 3D printing process, how the solution fits into the classroom and how costs, access and usage can be managed are elements of a successful 3D Printing Program.

In Part 9 “Building a curriculum around 3D printing” coming soon, we offer inspiration to educators on how to add 3D printing to bring subjects to life.

Part 7: Successfully introducing 3D printing into your school
Part 6: Finding your perfect 3D solution
Part 5: Creating the right physical environment for 3D printing in Education
Part 4: Building a business case for a 3D printer
Part 3: How much does 3D printing cost?
Part 2: How do you know if you need a 3D printer for your classroom?
Part 1: What is 3D printing and what are the benefits for education?


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