Picture of 3D Print with Paper!
We can't all afford a real 3D printer but that doesn't mean you can't bring your creations to life!  In the following Instructable I will show you how to bring your designs from the computer to reality by 3D printing them on Paper!  All you will need are the following things:
  1. Sure Cuts Alot ™ - (or SCAL for short)  - for less than $80 this software lets you create your own shapes to cut out on a craft cutter.  You can download a trial version for FREE which will cut a watermark in your cuts.  I have not tried to use the free trial version for this method of 3D printing yet but it may be worth trying it out! (why spend $75 if you don't have to right?)
  2. Any of the following craft cutters which are compatible with SCAL: Craftwell eCraft™, BlackCat Cougar/Lynx™, BossKut Gazelle™, Pazzles Inspiration™, Silhouette SD/CAMEO™, USCutter™, CraftROBO/Graphtec™, GCC™, Wishblade™  and POSSIBLY the Cricut (only if you already own an older version of Sure Cuts Alot with old firmware on your cricut, older versions of Sure cuts alot can sometimes be found on EBAY but it is much more expensive).  I should note that some of these cutters actually let you make your own designs right out of the box, so if your craft cutter can import .SVG files you won't even need to buy SCAL
  3. Glue!  - any kind will do, I went with Scotch™ scrapbook glue.
  4. Paper! - preferably a thick cardstock.  I used 12"x12" sheets that were about .015" thick.
  5. The following free Software:
  • 123DMAKE - by Autodesk™  - this is the most crucial piece of software you will need and guess what?  IT"S FREE!  All you have to do is sign up for a free account.  Autodesk also has other INCREDIBLE free software for scanning real life objects and making 3D models of them using nothing but a camera (123DCatch), as well as a totally free CAD software called 123D, so check it out!  Technically, if you have a good hobby knife and a lot of time on your hands, you could actually print in 3D with paper with nothing but an inkjet printer and 123DMAKE, but the craft cutter sure saves a lot of time!
  • SCRIBUS - Open Source software which we need to convert .eps files to .SVG files.  To do so you will also need GHOSTSCRIPT (also FREE).  Once you download ghostscript you will need to change settings in SCRIBUS to point it to where GHOSTSCRIPT is on your computer.  The directions for doing so are given to you by SCRIBUS but basically you click File->Preferences-> scroll down on the left to EXTERNAL TOOLS-> and change the Name of Executable field under Postscript Interpreter to the path to your GHOSTSCRIPT .exe file.  For me that path was the following :       C:\Program Files\gs\gs9.05\bin\gswin64.exe
  • OPTIONALLY -  another free software by Pixologic™ called Sculptris which gives you a virtual ball of clay to shape into whatever you want and save it as a .obj file.  This is what I used to quickly design the Duck I make in this Project (I have provided in this instructable for your use if you so desire)
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SHIFT!1 year ago
This is my favorite use of 3D printing paper I've seen all day! Love the concept- cant wait to try it out for myself.
db85 (author)  SHIFT!1 year ago
if you had the right tools this could probably be a good method for 3d printing with metal.
Cool ! And a very good alternative to a 3D printer. I may have to try this with contact paper sometime ( yep, I've made quite a few graphics for my windows with that stuff It would also help greatly with some projects I would like to do with paper mache clay.
That is absolutely crazy. I've seen this done with cardboard and plywood, but never paper. Awesome!
db85 (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
Glad you like it! Yeah, 123D make let's you order laser cut cardboard but I wanted something of higher resolution. I used cardstock in this project which is .015" thick but really you can get super fine resolution if you were to use regular printer paper!
SHIFT!1 year ago
Will this same method work with Make the Cut? I'm interested in purchasing a machine that uses this software.
db85 (author)  SHIFT!18 days ago

I myself have not tried but Make the cut claims to be able to import SVG files so I am assuming it would work! That software does not work with cricut machines so make sure you have a compatible craft cutter.

Andy051124 days ago
Could you possibly add instructions on how to make the 3D object without the craft cutter for those who don't have a printer that could use a craft cutter?
db85 (author)  Andy051118 days ago

Basically you would do the following: See the image in step 9? Here you could just save as a pdf or an image file then open that up and print it. Or just print straight from scribus. Then it would be a long arduous task of manually cutting out all of the shapes with an exacto knife, based on your avatar picture you may know of it as the "sword of exact zero" -Lego movie reference. Good luck!