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Ever lose time out of your day trying unravel tangled cables? You’re definitely not alone. In this tutorial, we’ll walk through the design for a simple tool that can be used to store your ear buds, and to prevent the frustration that comes along with knotty cords.

If you’re a teacher, encouraging students to design objects with real world application is a great way to engage their creativity, as well as push them to think critically and use design skills. You can find a complete lesson plan devoted to these topics, as well as instructional materials like learning objectives, test materials, and evaluation rubrics attached below.

Step 1: Download 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: Create the Basic Model

Draw a circle the diameter of the ear bud holder and Extrude [SCREEN SHOT]. Create a smaller circle on the surface of the 3D object you created, and Extrude [SCREEN SHOT]

Recreate the first 3D image you made on top by drawing a circle and Extruding [SCREEN SHOT]. You should be left with a basic shape that resembles a yo-yo at this point.

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

Step 3: Refine the Model

Select each of the outer sharp edges and smooth them out using the Fillet tool.

Repeat the process with the two interior edges.

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

Step 4: Cut Out the Ear Bud Holders

Insert a keyhole shaped Primitive. Drag it into position where one ear bud hole will be.

Using the Rectangular pattern tool, create an additional primitive alongside the first one. Sink the two primitives down into the holder.

Using the Combine tool, cut the two ear bud holes.

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

Step 5: Choose Materials

Using the Material tool on the toolbar, add material to your ear bud holder. Play around with different combinations of colors and textures until you find something that works for you.

For a step-by-step example of this step, see:

Step 6: 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.

This tutorial focused mainly on designing a tool for 3D printing with 123D Make. If you'd like more info on saving files to 123D cloud storage, how to export STL files from 123D Make, or how to modify your file for use with a laser cutter using 123D Make, see:

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