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If you’re a teacher, designing unique and meaningful artifacts is a great way to engage students in history and art, while putting more quantitative design skills to work. Teachers can help their students think and act like historians and social scientists using Autodesk software to create visual and 3D print models of historical artifacts.

Students develop a better understanding of the past and can better share their insights with classmates by designing their own historically accurate interpretation of ancient coins using 123D Design.

In this tutorial, we’ll walk through the stages of designing an ancient coin ready for 3D printing. Of course, there are many different ways to design coins (and many types of coins!), and this is just one of them. Challenge your students to research authentic shapes and designs, and to recreate the most realistic coins that they can. You can find a complete lesson plan devoted to this project, as well as instructional materials like learning objectives, test materials, and evaluation rubrics attached below. Additionally, here are a couple introductory videos to get you started off on the right foot.




Step 1: Download Autodesk 123D Design

Before you start, download and install Autodesk 123D Design (it’s totally free). 123D Design makes it easy to manipulate all kinds of shapes and create viable designs using numerous materials. For a general tour of the interface and commands, see these short tutorials:


Step 2: Sketch and Create the Basic Coin

First, sketch lines representing the full height, and half the width of the spade coin using the Polyline tool. Close the shape using the Polyline tool.

To create the inward curve on the bottom of the coin, use Sketch>Circle. Overlap with the first shape, and trip any extraneous lines.

Use the Extrude tool to give the coin some thickness, and use the Mirror tool to create the second half of the coin.

Start the handle by using the Cube Primitive. You can use the Tweak function to manipulate the handle into a more pyramidal shape. You can use the Shell tool to hollow out the handle.

For a step-by-step video tutorial on this stage, see:

Step 3: Add Details and Script

Use the Polyline tool to add details and script on your coin.

You can use the Offset tool to copy lines, and the Mirror tool to add symmetrical features.

Use the Extrude tool to give your designs some depth.

For a step-by-step video tutorial on this stage, see:

Step 4: Color the Coin and Export

Use the project geometry to create sketch geometry. Extrude these pieces a very small amount, just enough to be able to cover with color. Be sure to select new solid for each new element. Add materials.

Join all the elements of the coin with the Combine tool, and export as an STL file.

For a step-by-step video tutorial on this stage, see:

Step 5: Print!

In order to print parts from 123D on your MakerBot you will need to install the Autodesk 3D Print Utility which will prepare your parts for printing. For more information on the Autodesk 3D Print Utility click here.

You will also need to download and install the latest version of the Makerware™ software from MakerBot. The software is free of charge and can be downloaded here.

Once a part has been created and is ready for printing you can select 3D Print option from the 123D Menu. This will bring up the 3D printer dialog where you can select your printer and options for printing. After setting up your printer options, you will be given the choice to save as a .stl file or send directly to the Makerware software for printing. If your printer is not listed in the Autodesk 3D Print Utility, you can still export to a .stl file directly. This will allow you to use any software your printer requires. This can be done by selecting the Export STL option from the 123D Design menu. Lastly, if you don’t have a 3D printer, places like TechShop have the tools to turn your design files into physical objects, and staff the people who can show you how. Places like Shapeways can even print them for you.

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