Who is this for?
This Instructable is for those curious about 2D and 3D making. 

What is it?
An exploration into the making process using online 2D cutting, and 3D printing services. 

Why 2D and 3D in one Instructable?
This Instructable is my experience and comparison of the process (and costs) involved in using 2D and 3D online services to solve the same problem. I could have broken it into two separate Instructables, but I think that the process of making these designs was interwoven, the story should include both design avenues.

What skills are required?
This tutorial assumes a general familiarity with how to use a computer. Familiarity with 2D or 3D design is helpful, but I try to talk you through the details, and I've tried to minimize the steps to get you from design to finished product, so you can get your feet wet without feeling like you're drowning.

What tools are required?
A computer, and a connection to the internet (I'm assuming you have both if you are reading this.)
A vector editor like Adobe Illustrator. (Trial version available here.) 
A 3D program like Rhino. (Trial version available here.)  
(Start downloading now... They're big.)

What services are you using to fabricate?
I am using Ponoko for 2D laser cutting, and Shapeways for 3D.
Note that Ponoko offers 3D printing too, as well as some cool part catalogs, but I wanted to give exposure to two different companies. Both are excellent in quality, price, and customer service.

On the last page of this Instructable, I am including a reusable template, so you (with minimal effort) can try your hand at creating a snug, custom-fit container for whatever it is that you want to store in an Altoid tin. 

This Instructable will contain the details that I wish someone had showed me when I was starting out. (I feel like I'm still starting out, but hopefully I can share what I know.)   There are a lot of steps in this journey, so please comment if you feel like I missed anything.

Example Goal:
To create a nice, snug portable container for my (Fuji NP-50) digital camera batteries, with separate compartments for charged and empty batteries. 

Example Use Case:
I want to be able to tell which batteries are charged, and which are drained.  I carry 3 camera batteries when I travel, so at any time, two batteries are loose, and one is always in the camera.  The last day before a trip,  I always threw together an Altoid tin holder laboriously hand-cut from cardboard or foam.  My original solution worked, but the tins didn't look very cool. Let's fix that...

Step 1: 2D - Setup and Software

Whenever I design something, I'll start with a vector drawing tool like Adobe Illustrator.  This is the program I will be using for the tutorial, so if you want to use another tool, I'll assume you can figure out the corresponding commands on your own.

If you haven't gotten it yet, you can download a fully functional trial to follow along with this tutorial.
Some folks prefer (the cheaper) Corel-Draw. You might also try using Inkscape, a nice free cross-platform alternative, although, if you do, note that while inkscape can export .eps files, it cannot re-import them, so be sure to save your master files in a different format.

If hard-drive space is a concern, or if you don't want to (or aren't allowed to) install programs, Raven (Beta) is a free vector editing tool in the (completely web-based) Aviary design suite. 

The point is, there are options out there, but start with a tool in which you feel most comfortable, because odds are, there will be many revisions before you arrive at a final design, and to change things quickly and efficiently, you want to be free from having to think about the development tools. 

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