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This content is taken from the University of Wollongong's online course, Bioprinting: 3D Printing Body Parts. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds So when we’re designing for 3D printing, we typically start in some sort of CAD software. So in this case, we’ll be using 3D modelling software, and what we’re going to do here is we’re going to create the Future Learn logo. So in designing from first principles, we create a series of lines which will be the outline for the text and the ladder structure, and we actually extrude that or build that, and create volume from it. So we create a two-dimensional sketch, and we expand it out, in this case up to 15 millimetres. From this point, we save the file and convert it to an stl. That’s the standard format for all 3D printing processes.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds With the file saved, we then import it into the software that we’re going to be using to 3D print the structure. In this case, it’s called matter control, and it links up to our 3D printer here. So this is a typical FDM printer– that’s fused deposition modelling– and takes a pre-formed thermoplastic filament and deposits layer by layer the 3D cross-sections that we’ve designed. So once we’ve imported it, we can view the layout that we’ve created. We can position it where we’d like it on the bed, and we can control a series of parameters about how it’s going to print.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 seconds We can change the material it’ll print in, the speed it will print in, and the density of the material that we’re going to be printing. In this case, we’re just going to be using standard typical parameters for PLA.

Designing for 3D printing

3D modelling software is integral to the creation and evolution of 3D printing.

Finding modelling software

There are open-source options available online. These modelling software options vary in quality and function but are available free online:

  • SketchUp
  • FreeCad
  • Fusion 360
  • Onshape
  • nanoCAD
  • OpenSCAD
  • Tinkercad
  • 3D Slash

Finding a printer

Due to developments over the past five years, 3D printers have become readily available to the general public. In fact you can actually purchase 3D printers from Amazon for a few hundred dollars!

Community spaces such as makerspaces and hackerspaces, are also scattered around. These are DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and print.

Conversation starter

The CHOICE 3D printing website has some great information about buying printers, finding software, and even finding local makerspaces in Australia.

  • Where do you create 3D printed objects?
  • What information can you find and share about makerspaces in your city?

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This video is from the free online course:

Bioprinting: 3D Printing Body Parts

University of Wollongong