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:
- 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?)
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
Glue! - any kind will do, I went with Scotch™ scrapbook glue.
Paper! - preferably a thick cardstock. I used 12"x12" sheets that were about .015" thick.
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)
Step 1: Design Your Model
The first step is to Design something worth taking the time to print. To do so, I used Sculptris™ but you could use whatever program you want (123D, Google Sketchup, Solidworks, AutoCad etc.) so long as you are able to save your model as either an .stl or .obj file (These are the two types of files which 123D Make can import).
As a second option you can download a model from the web. 123D Make comes with example models like a Car, Skull, Rhino and Shark, and you can browse the community for projects made by other users (I even saw Angelina Jolie's Face as a 3d model there!)
If you like the Duck I made you can download that from this Instructable. I have both the .obj and the .3dmk (123DMake) file attached here.
Once you are done with your design, export the model as either an.obj or .stl file for the next step.