Picture of 123D Modeling for 3D Printing
Update: I just received the 3D Print from the "Free 3D Printing" Group yesterday(Nov 3, 2012). It look a little different than I used in the tutorial because I added more parts in the 3D model file, since I got some space left to fit 3x3x3" cube.

I got a chance to play with Autodesk's 123D application. I spent sometimes to get myself familiar with 123D, and found that it was very easy to use with a lot of features that I could use to create a professional quality 3D models.

This hands-on tutorial is written for anyone who want to make 3D Print.
In this tutorials, you will learn to use 123D through a series of hands-on exercises.

After reading this tutorial, you can use 123D to visualize designs of the things that will actually be built. You will be guided through the basics of 3D manipulation in 123D, and the principal ideas involved in displaying complex 3D objects, and will be ready to create the simple objects that will get you that first 3D Printing object. You will learn how to save and export files directly from 123D program to send to fabricator, such as  "Free 3D Printing" Group (Now, closed.) or anyother 3D Fabricators.

On the way, you get to do something you can see with your “looking glass”, you can create 3D parts, robots, objects and subjects of any type.

  • Sketch/design the models. 
  • Getting to know the 123D application.
  • Use 123D application to create various small  3D models of robot's parts, ears, eyes, shoulders and hands.
  • Combine (join) these parts together into one single piece.
  • Submit the model to the Instructables' "Free 3D Printing" Group, or to 3D Print fabricators.
I will introduce to you various methods to create 3D models starting from basic drawing methods as used in creating ear and complex methods to create 3D models as used in creating eyes with eyebrows.

By combining (joining) small individual 3D Models together, either from the same project or from different project. We could save time and do not have to submit each part individually. And we could avoid waiting for each part to be delivered many times before using them in the project(s).

Another benefit of combining (joining) models together is that if the combined model has the size which is smaller than 3x3x3" cube, we could submit the model to  "Free 3D Printing" offer to have it made if you are not in a hurry! But you need to write up an instructable and sign up as a member, to qualify.

Not only you could use this methods for "Free 3D Printing" here at instructables, but you could also apply the methods with your 3D model to be done ( but not free) at Shapeway, Ponoko, etc. (which allow you to print a larger 3d model for example a model with a footprint of 4x6", etc.)

Note: I submitted the 3D Print file as used in this tutorial to our "Free 3D Printing" Group, but it is still in the queue to be printed. I will post the picture as soon as I receive it.

crogshockey5 months ago

Thank you very much for the link, I do really appreaciated!

www.tinkercad.com is the easiest modeling tool ever

chimplost1 year ago

Thank you very much for the link, I do really appreaciated!

Dear, Edgar,
Thank you very much for the link, I do really appreaciated!
Tomdf2 years ago
Hey Sath, when I'm drawing something with multiple parts I usually want to draw it as it would be constructed, essentially drawing the assembly and the parts at the same time. You drew everything at the origin and then moved it, why is that? I think I may be doing it way backward or weirdly.

Also, when submitting a model for a Instructables free print, can you recommend a minimum distance that the parts should be from each other? I'm assuming that if the parts are to close together they are difficult to clean well. Maybe this picture can explain what I'm asking.

Thanks in advance champ.

how close.jpg
sath02 (author)  Tomdf2 years ago

May be I got used to do stuff start from 0,0,0 or the habit of using absolute coordinate instead of relative! (This habit might have started since I used the drafting table to draw stuff! :P)
I think it would be a lot easier to explain or show others in this instructable to draw stuff starting from origin(absolute) and then move thing around (relative) to the origin (0,0,0).
One other reasons was built 3d model base on origin, i,e center of the object at 0,0,0, would make your colleague life's a lot easier, because he/she could load your model(s) up in their (large) 3d scene knowing that your model will be there at 0,0,0 and not any where else. Then they can move it to the location it supposed to be later.

For the minimum distance, I use this minimum wall thickness chart from Ponoko's materials comparison chart
( http://www.ponoko.com/make-and-sell/show-comparison ) which vary between 1 mm to 3 mm., plus the thickness of the cutting tool that I'm using to cut e.g Xacto knife, saw, etc. The gap should be large enough to insert your cutting tool in and have some space to allow the tool to operate freely without scratching the surface.

Hope this help.
Tomdf sath022 years ago
Oh yeah, definitely a help! Thanks again
juanjomf2 years ago
So hard for me to learn to draw in 3-D which is the easiest program?
i meant to reply this in your comment box: www.tinkercad.com
sath02 (author)  juanjomf2 years ago
I don't know what to tell you! For the free 3D modeling app, Sketch up, Blender, and 123D, I only use 123D as my second choice 3D app. (I normally use 3DS Max) and I quite like it very much.
I would recommend. You can make a 3D model from photos of the object. You can check it out here. http://www.123dapp.com/catch
Tanju-B2 years ago
www.tinkercad.com is the easiest modeling tool ever
sath02 (author) 2 years ago
Dear, Edgar,
Thank you very much for the link, I do really appreaciated!

Things seem to come around, go around with the Brazil Connection. Once I was interviewed by the magazine "Super Interresante" from Brazil.
Here is the cover and my picture in the article.
Edgar2 years ago
Great job! gone to my Portuguese langiiage Blog, so it will be big in Brazil:


As for being Windows only, there's Wine, the better-than-emulator, that runs Windows stuff, without the ugly Win-doze OS! :)
Ack. You almost had me convinced. Unfortunately it's Windows only.
sath02 (author)  DancesWithRobots2 years ago
Not that unfortunate! 123D is only in the Beta version.
May be Autodesk would release the Full version in all Linux, Mac OS, and Windows platforms, we'll never know, right?
Well, we can hope. And I'll admit I haven't actually tried WINE yet.

BTW, I like your robot gadget.
sath02 (author)  DancesWithRobots2 years ago
Please share the result if you decide to play with 123D on WINE!

DIY-Guy sath022 years ago
Oh boy, this is good! Great work, and THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
sath02 (author)  DIY-Guy2 years ago
Thanks for your kind words.
wrksnfx2 years ago
I was so interested and was all GEEKED about this then I saw ALL that was involved and my mind was like NO FLIPPING WAY! If you want to do that go find someone else because I'm NOT doing it <-- no I'm not crazy. However one of the BEST instructables I have seen to date.
sath02 (author)  wrksnfx2 years ago
Hi wrksnfx,

Don't be scared or get intimidated by the amount of images or steps of the tutorial.
The steps take you through the processes that you do them repeatedly. And after you are done with it, you became an "Expert"!

"don't finish your canvas with white paint"
kosme2 years ago
Why is it that your 123D Beta version allows you to export to .stl and mine doesn't?
sath02 (author)  kosme2 years ago
You probably need to "Sign In" whe you are using 123D.
The Sign In icon, located at the top right hand corner of the screen.
nicely written. Good use of screen captures.
sath02 (author)  captain Jack2 years ago
Thank you, captain!
Tomdf2 years ago
Hey, seriously, you have no idea how badly I needed this tutorial, ty!
My work flow was completely jacked and my last print was a mess (I had parts fused to other parts when I wanted them to break away separately.) Now I understand why and how to do it right next time :p
sath02 (author)  Tomdf2 years ago
Thanks for the compliment!
I'm so glad that it is useful for you!