Introduce 3D Printing Design by Creating Simple 3D Printed Animals
- Tinkercad Account
- Computer with internet access
- 3D Printer and Slicing Software
- Writing utensil (for sketching ideas)
- Paint (optional)
Build Directions: How to Make a 3D Printed Animal in Tinkercad
Step 1: Sketch an Animal and Edit Grid
Pick an animal and think about how it would look flat. How would it look it you only use basic shapes? Sketch it out if you need to. Open up Tinkercad, create new project, and change your grid to inches. Click Edit Grid and then change the default unit from millimeters to inches and set it to 1/8 in.
Step 2: Build Your Animal’s Body
Build your animal’s body and head using simple shapes like squares and circles. They should only come up 1/8th of an inch (0.125″).
Step 3: Create Holes For Legs
Do not add legs yet. Instead add rectangle-shaped holes so that you can slot in legs and make it stand up. This is how we change flat shapes into 3D!
Step 4: Make a Hole For Your Animal’s Leg
Copy the rectangle holes that you used on the animal’s body onto the middle of a new rectangle. Next, make the hole slightly bigger (about .03”). This will become one of the animal’s legs. Make sure to group this.
Step 5: Complete Animal’s Leg
Although the leg will will fit the animal’s body now, it will just look like a rectangle under the animal. You can add another hole to separate the rectangle into two legs. You can also add feet or hooves or whatever you want! Just remember to keep it flat. If both holes on your animal’s body are the same size, you can simply “duplicate” this set of legs to complete the set.
Step 6: 3D Print
Double check before you print:
- All of your pieces are no thicker than 1/8”.
- You used the same hole to create your slots on the legs and main body of the animal.
- Everything is grouped together.
You are done! It’s good practice to rename your project (typically with your name and a brief description). Our prints were approximately 2” wide and took about 25-30 min to print.
Step 7: Final Touches
Paint (optional), assemble, and show off your new animal!
Additionally, here are some suggestions to guide a discussion after completing the activity.
What is the difference between a 2D shape and a 3D shape?
- 2D shapes are comprised of connected lines.
- X & Y axis
- 3D shapes are defined as having depth
- X, Y & Z axis
What is tolerance?
Tolerance is important to consider when pieces or parts fit together. If the holes were exactly the same size, it would be more difficult to slide the legs onto the body. By creating a little wiggle room, we can easily attach the legs to the main body.
What do you think profile means?
When we say “in profile” we’re thinking an outline. In the image below we see the profiles of 4 individuals. We can tell that all of the profiles resemble women. When thinking of your design, how can someone tell what animal it is?
What ways can you think of to customize this project? For the llama, we only had legs that slid in but you could do something similar with horns or ears or a tail! Beyond this project, having the skill to turn 2D to 3D and back again gives you many creative possibilities.
Show us your 3d printed animals! Tweet the hashtag #DHFMakes