3D Printing Without 3D Modeling Experience

Phone holders, vases, pixel cats…the possibilities are endless with 3D printing. Unfortunately, modeling objects for 3D printing is not as exciting as the possibilities. Many people are not comfortable or familiar with 3D modeling softwares such as SolidWorks, Rhino or Blender. However, 3D modeling is not needed in order to print objects.

To show people how to find objects to print as well as use the Ultimaker 3D printer we have in the EitM lab, research assistant Rachel Rodney created a how-to guide on finding 3D objects on Thingiverse and printing them. She tested these instructions with a classmate who had no prior 3D modeling or 3D printing experience. This classmate found the instructions easy to follow, and had started printing a snake within a few minutes. This classmate also noted that if she knew it was this simple to use the 3D printer, she would have started using it a long time ago. 

Having instructions available is important to making our makerspace inclusive. A barrier that people experience when using makerspaces is that they are not sure how to use the tools, and feel uncomfortable in the process of figuring things out. By having step-by-step instructions, our goal is that students will feel more comfortable entering our space and testing things out without knowledge being a barrier.


multiple 3D printed objects

Examples of 3D printed objects in lab

Infographic of Findings from “Descriptive Theory of Makerspaces”

The EiTM team designed an infographic for their recent article, “Descriptive Theory of Makerspaces: Examining the Relationship Between Spatial Arrangement and Diverse User Populations.” This graphic illustrates the two main themes found in this theory: one, that is is hard to define what “makes” a makerspace; and two, the affective and intangible features of makerspaces.  Designed by Emily Arnsberg, the EiTM team will use this graphic at future conferences and poster sessions.


Infographic of research findings

Infographic of research findings