Creating a 3D Object Using TinkerCAD
Creating your own 3D object is very easy and can be performed using free software available via your web browser, so you do not have to install anything to get started. For this demonstration, we will use the TinkerCAD software now supported by AutoDesk. This software can only operate using Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox browser, but all you need to do is go to http://tinkercad.com.
After creating your account (requires an e-mail address) or using your existing account, you can logon to the TinkerCAD service which will run entirely within the browser and does not require a download or installation of any software on your system.
Once you successfully logon, you can quickly start creating 3D objects and export them as .STL or .OBJ file types for 3D printing. To do this, just do the following:
Select [Create new Project] from the listing at the left, under PROJECTS.
With the new project selected (Project1 for this demonstration), select [Create new design] from the action options in the middle area of the screen.
The Workplane is displayed for your new object (the name is random) as a simple flat grid and you can select Geometric shapes from the right side to build your object. Dimensions and orientation of each element can be modified by selecting them with your mouse and making the desired adjustment. Here, the Cube object has been selected and the orientation arrow is being used to rotate the cube at an angle of -40 degrees.
Add objects as you like.
Adding a triangular Roof object and rotating that to the proper orientation is performed using the same procedure, but now both objects are aligned to the same base plane. Selecting the alignment and pulling up the roof by its arrow will manipulate its location in three dimensional space. Here, we have raised the roof object to match the proper height of the cube's walls.
You can hold the Shift key and select multiple objects at the same time. Selecting the [Group] option in the header bar joins the objects to form a very simple house design, where the display color (not the color it will print, only the color it is displayed in TinkerCAD) can also be selected to make it easier to identify the object when building larger structures.
If you select an object, you can adjust its display color or make it into a "Hole" to designate a shape that will be subtracted (cut out) of the final object. This is performed using the Inspector option at the upper right of the display. Hole objects appear transparent in the display and if you group them together with solid objects, the result will be a complex shape that can include empty and filled spaces like this cleat that includes a solid Hexagon and hole-configured Cylinder grouped together.
Additional options allow you to Duplicate, Mirror, Copy and Delete individual items within the Workplane of this particular design. Combining both solid and hole-designated objects, you can create almost anything your heart desires using the provided sample geometric objects to build up more complex forms.
When your design is completed, select [Design] from the header bar and choose to Download for 3D Printing to create an .STL or .OBJ formatted object based on the type of 3D printer software you are using. By exporting the .STL model of your object design, you can open it in your 3D printing software and create a solid version of the object or share the design via any of the various object repositories and join the 3D printing revolution around the world!