3D Crash Course

3D Crash Course

Depending on the product, 3D printing may be a good way for your students to create a cost effective and flexible prototype. Austin College has purchased an Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer from Ultimaker and several scanning devices including iSense and Einscan Pro. To create a 3D model you will need 3D modeling software, some include: Tinkercad, Sketchup, Autodesk 123D, Meshmixer, AutoCAD, or Rhino3D. There are many options to chose from and before making a decision you should take into consideration your experience with 3D modeling, what you will be designing, and if you are using any other tools like a 3D scanner. If you are new or have a limited knowledge of 3D design and printing Tinkercad or Autodesk 123D are great to learn on. If you have more experience or plan on importing and editing 3D scanned objects AutoCAD, Rhino3d, and Meshmixer are more appropriate. If your students are looking to sculpt something rather than model, Sculptres does this very well. We encourage instructors to take part in this process, as you may discover other ways to introduce this process in different academic exercises.

Before moving forward make sure you have the latest version of Cura installed. Once your students have created their designs using one of the tools we have recommended and saved their prototype as an STL, OBJ, DAE or AMF file (types of files that 3D printing software the printer can read) or it will not print. Load the file into Cura, save the Gcode onto the SD card that is provided by Ultimaker, put the SD card into the Ultimaker 2+ and print. There is a link below that goes into more detail if you have any questions. You can also download the Ultimaker 2+ app on your phone or tablet.

Given that their may be a backlog of requests for the printer or your students may want to print their prototype in another material like carbon fiber or gold, Shape Ways and 3dhubs are great resources that allow you to upload your design and print it for you in many different materials. If your students do not feel like they are able to create their design with all the resources Austin College has provided, Shape Ways and 3dhubs also provide collaboration with community designers, but we encourage all students to give it a try before using this resource.

We will also provide a list of the tools and resources we have researched, downloaded, tried, and continue to use for all things related to 3D printing.

Simple Tinkercad tutorial:

One of six simple Autodesk 123D tutorials:

Current print material:

Ultimaker General-Use Filaments

Preparing a print file:


Meshmixer Basics:

Blender tutorials: