Project of the Month – Print Your 3D Designs

So, you’ve spent some time in ViaCAD Pro or Shark modeling the perfect 3D project. You’ve subdivided your objects, given them a finished look, and now are using our 3D printing tools to make your design come to life. The video below takes you from the construction of a 3D spoon, which you can read about here, to exporting it and getting it 3D printed using a great online 3D printing service called Shapeways.

Before getting your project printed there are a couple really cool PunchCAD features that will help you visualize your 3D models.

First, let’s talk about the ‘model to sheet’ tool. If you watch the video at the 4:50 mark, you’ll see the finished 3D model of a spoon as well as the ‘model to sheet’ tool being used to get exact dimensions of the spoon to be shared via a printable PDF. This useful tool can create sheets to be emailed for review as well, which is seen in the video.

Quick Tip: PunchCAD files are interoperable, so if you need to edit the file further you can use software, like the video does with Adobe Illustrator, that interacts with PDF files to make the changes you need.

Second, the video then shows how you can go one step further with rendering your 3D object. Using the ‘photo render’ tool  that can be found in the window tab at the top of the program, the spoon’s color and material can be altered (you can visualize the spoon as metal, mirror, plastic, glass, and wood).

Once you’ve finished creating your model using our CAD software and want to create physical prototype or finished object it’s easy to use Shapeways to get it 3D printed. As you can see in the video, you can export your model as an STL file (what’s an STL file?) and upload that file onto the Shapeways website. After a short period, Shapeways will analyze your model and give you pricing options for various materials. Once you’ve chosen your material, Shapeways will do the rest.

Pro Tip: When 3D printing using an expensive material, we recommend giving yourself the time to first print out a cheaper prototype to further refine your design. The ability to reference a physical object while making last minute adjustments will save you a lot of trouble (and money) moving forward.

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