Sometimes the world of 3D printing still feels a bit like the wild, wild west. The rules are being made up as we go, and it’s still a fairly lawless frontier, as well as one where you, well, sometimes just have no idea how to pull off a particular concept, or no earthly idea why something went wrong when you were in the throes of creativity, bringing a supposedly great design to fruition. And of course, when things do go stupendously, we want to share. Thank goodness now for the talented—and generous—souls in the Pinshape community, who have offered up all of their tips, now compiled in their Pinshape 3D Printing Design Guide.
The team at Pinshape shared with us that most of the tips do come from their own designers within the community who over time have also been writing guest blogs regarding design—along with the best ways to sell those great 3D designs. The guide itself is indeed meant to serve those who are interested in selling their work.
“We hope that our 3D Printing Design Guide will serve as a resource for designers to improve their models and share them with the 3D community who are always looking for unique things to print,” Lucas Matheson, CEO of Pinshape, told 3DPrint.com.
While you may have what it takes to get some really cool prints out there, the guide brings up some interesting points right away. What does your audience want? Here, they offer up tips on making ‘hot designs’ that will appeal to many. While everybody wants something fun, as the mother to a brood of 3D printing enthusiasts, I am always trying to encourage them to take the time to print something useful (especially if it’s for me!). Fun, useful, simple, yet unique—if you keep those four points in mind, you should be off to a great start.
“Additionally, look for well-known products you might be able to piggy-back off of to connect with passionate owners. Products like cell phones, camera and quadcopters all have dedicated followings and owners looking for cool accessories for their new favorites gadgets. If you can create something unique and useful, you’ll be in great shape!” states the team.
Any novice, especially, will tell you that they are seeking to print 3D models with the least hassle possible. This is why it’s very important to have a tried and true print that you have experience with yourself, and one which offers published settings for potential users.
“Some details in the design are lost during the 3D printing process, or some elements could be too thin to print. If you want to make your design easy to print, keep it simple,” Clair from Sculpteo offers with a ‘pro tip.’
One of the best parts of the guide helps you with modeling software. Having tips from those who’ve already taken the time to venture into ground unknown to you is invaluable, as delving into 3D modeling software can be time-consuming. Why not take advice from those who have gone before you already? The voices who indeed have done so recommend exploring both solid and mesh modeling softwares, and becoming skilled at using both. While they both offer different strengths, you will find that you are often able to get the best of all worlds when you use both for different parts of a more complex 3D model.
“Put them together and voila, a one-of-a-kind ring! Design can also be work-flowed with 123D Tinkercad, another solid modeling program. It has features that [123D] Design doesn’t. One being the ability to resize an item after you’ve made it (although the Design team has promised this feature in a future version),” notes the guide.
Obviously, you’ll need to consider what your general project requirements are, as well as your ongoing needs in design, before you choose the best product for you. The guide also offers a great more detail about each package, including those that you must pay for. Here is a list, including prices (in USD), of the software the guide also suggests:
- ZBrush – $795(single user license)
- SolidWorks – $3,995
- Autodesk Fusion 360 – $40/month or $300/year
- Autodesk 3DS Max – $185/month or $1,249.50/year
- Rhino – $195 for Windows, $95 for Mac OSX
As they go further into making your design as streamlined and attractive as possible to customers, a great tip is to reduce the need for supports as much as possible. Even for experienced users, supports are a hassle, and it can be what makes or breaks a model after many hours of printing—only to find that supports are nearly impossible to remove and smooth out without damaging the model. Using supports adds extra material that is just thrown out, and often creates unnecessary complexity in the design.
You also want to think ahead with your design. Make sure it’s not fragile and narrow, allowing for overheating and warping. Make sure to keep all the facets of your design in mind from beginning to end—and most importantly—regarding your material.
Preparing your designs for 3D printing is obviously an area where you must place a great deal of focus. The guide recommends the following free software for fixing holes as well as converting your CAD design into an .stl file or .obj file:
The guide also gives you great ideas and formulas for pricing, with information on how to assess market value, as well as what to figure in for the actual base cost of your model. The team also gives you great ideas on how to figure out who is going to want your model—and most importantly—who is going to find it most interesting.
“Think about other things that your target market spends or does not spend money on. If your design is targeted at students who don’t have a lot of money, it makes sense to offer a free download,” states the team. “In return for the free design, ask them to spread the word about your shop to get some brand value from it.”
Once you’ve established all of these values, it’s time to consider where you will sell your 3D print. Now, there’s a big choice! With so many 3D printing marketplaces and retail venues available today, you need to decide which mode you want to use for sales. Online distribution? Downloads? Streaming? Physical distribution?
“Streaming allows me to upload and protect my designs that I don’t want to distribute by download, and sell designs at a lower cost compared to direct downloads,” states designer Tanya Wiesner.
And although you may have some marketing savvy already, the tips are fun to read and definitely inspirational. As long as you are offering an affordable print, appeal to your customer’s visual side with great photos or videos, and write up an articulate, inviting description, you should be in great shape for sales. Remember that it also helps to get involved. Be a part of the 3D printing community. Engage. If you can be prolific, and offer multiple designs—even better too.
Will you be 3D printing products yourself? If so, there’s an enormous marketplace available with hardware to meet any one—or all—of your needs. The guide offers insight into many of their favorites, from printers to scanners and smartphone apps.
“Learning 3D design can be intimidating. Our hope is that by making a step-by-step guide, we will encourage new designers to give it a try and show them that it’s something fun and exciting,” Lucas Matheson, CEO of Pinshape, told 3DPrint.com.
Is this guide something you’ve been looking for? Discuss in the Pinshape Guide Helps Market 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.