A Guide to Creating a 3-D Printed Book (for the Tech-Challenged )

Introduction: A Guide to Creating a 3-D Printed Book (for the Tech-Challenged )

As a beginner to 3-D printing, I totally sympathize with trepidation you may have when approaching your first 3-D printing design. However, through the use of Tinkercad's unique and convenient digital Web design program and these instructions, you'll be able to quickly and easily replicate this miniature book design for 3-D printers. In just a few hours, you can hold your very own 3-D printed work.

To begin, you'll need:

1. A computer with Internet access

2. Access to the University of Florida libraries

Step 1: Access a 3-D Modeling Website

To design your 3-D model, you'll first need to access an online service which allows for simple, easy-to-learn digital modeling design. The best option for this is to visit www.tinkercad.com. Tinkercad offers its services free of charge and provides its users with many convenient and fun tools which you can use in the design process. The site is structured with beginners in mind, so do there is no need to feel intimidated.

Step 2: Creating Your Account

Before you can begin interacting with Tinkercad, you'll need to create your account. Click the button in the upper-right corner of the home screen which says "Sign Up." Proceed to fill out your location and date of birth when prompted.

Step 3: Creating Your Account (continued)

After providing your personal information, all you'll need to provide additionally is your e-mail and a secure password of your choice. Make sure to read every single page of Tinkercad's Terms of Service before agreeing to the terms, and then click the large blue "Create Account" button.

Step 4: Starting Your Project

On the following page, you will see a large blue box towards the top of your screen which reads "Create new design." Click this to begin working.

Step 5: Familiarizing Yourself With the Workplane

As you can see, you are now in the design portal of the site known as your "Workplane." The small box in the upper-left corner allows you to navigate through this three-dimensional plane visually. To the right, you'll see an assortment of shapes; these will be used to form your design.

Step 6: Inserting Your First Shape

Click and hold your mouse on the red cube shape seen in the "Basic Shapes" section to the right on your screen. While continuing to hold your mouse down, drag your cursor from the cube to the center of the Workplane. The result should be identical to that which you see above.

Step 7: Adjusting the Length and Width of Your Shape

To begin adjusting this shape to our intended size, you'll first want to handle the length and width. By placing your cursor on the nearest bottom-right corner of the cube and clicking and holding, you'll find that you are able to then drag your cursor in any direction to adjust the dimensions of the cube. Drag your cursor diagonally until the dimensions match 25 mm in length and 20 mm in width, as can be seen above.

Step 8: Adjusting the Height of Your Shape

By moving your cursor to the white rectangle on the top center of your rectangular prism and clicking and holding your mouse, you'll be able to adjust your shape's height in a similar manner to which you just adjusted the length and width. While continuing to hold your mouse down, slide the cursor downwards until the height of your shape is precisely 5 mm, as can be seen above.

Step 9: Duplicating Your Shape

Using your cursor, click on your rectangular prism. This action will select your shape. To duplicate it, simply press Ctrl+C followed by Ctrl+V on your keyboard. You should then see an identical shape appear directly next to your original shape, and should look similar to the picture above.

Step 10: Adjusting the Dimensions and Positioning of Shape 2

Just as you previously adjusted the height of Shape 1, adjust the dimensions of Shape 2 so that its height is only 3 mm, therefore making it 2 mm shorter than Shape 1. Then, click and hold on the small conical indicator on top of Shape 2. Raise or lower your cursor accordingly so that the center of Shape 2 in terms of height is level with the center of Shape 1. These modifications should lead you to see a result identical to the picture above.

Step 11: Duplicate Shape 2

Now that you have properly modified Shape 2, duplicate it in the same manner in which you duplicated Shape 1: select Shape 2, press Ctrl+C, and press Ctrl+C.

Step 12: Make Shape 2 Into a Hole

Select Shape 2 by clicking on it. To the right, you will see a menu that says "Shapes," which has two side-by-side options: "Solid" and "Hole." Select "Hole" by clicking it.

Step 13: Slide Shape 2 Into Shape 1

Using your cursor, click and drag Shape 2 (now in hole form) so that it is protruding from the longer side of Shape 1. There should be 3 mm of width in Shape 1 that are not obstructed by Shape 2, as is demonstrated above.

Step 14: Ensure That the Shapes Are Properly Aligned

It is essential that you make sure there is proper alignment. It is expected that Shape 2 should protrude a few mm out of Shape 1 on the lengthy right side of Shape 2. There should be no protrusion of Shape 2 from the shorter sides of Shape 1, as they should be seamlessly aligned. Use your viewfinder tool in the upper-left corner to navigate the shapes and make sure that they look just as those pictured above.

Step 15: Group Shapes 1 and 2

Next, you will need to group Shape 1 and Shape 2. To do so, you'll need to hold your "Shift" key. While holding "Shift," use your cursor to click both Shape 1 and Shape 2. You will see an option towards the top of your screen appear that says "Group" (as is pictured above). Select "Group" by clicking it with your cursor. This should result in the merging of the shapes, so Shape 1 will now have a visible hole where Shape 2 was.

Step 16: Adjust the Dimensions of Shape 3

Again using your cursor to make modifications, click the lower right corner of Shape 3 and drag it so that the length is exactly 23 mm and the width is exactly 17 mm. Leave the height as it is. Your result should look like the shape above.

Step 17: Align Shape 3 With Shape 1

Using the conical up/down modifier tool located on the center of the top of Shape 3, raise or lower the spatial up/down position of Shape 3 so that its top and bottom edges are aligned with the internal edges of Shape 1.

Step 18: Ensure That the Shapes Are Properly Aligned

Now that Shape 3 is in Shape 1, make sure that it is properly aligned. If done properly, you will now be able to recognize that Shape 3 is the pages of the book and Shape 1 is the cover. As can be seen above, the leftward edge of Shape 3 should be flush with the inside left edge of Shape 1. There should be an identical distance between the pages and the top and bottom of the cover, so the pages should be perfectly central from a length perspective.

Step 19: Insert Text

Just as when you inserted the initial cube, look under the "Basic Shapes" menu and select "Text." Click and drag "Text" onto the Workplane. It should look as it does above.

Step 20: Edit Your Text

Rotate the text using the rotating tool indicated by a two-sided error located to the right of the text; it should be rotated just like the picture above. After making this rotation, select the text by clicking it. You should see a menu pop up on the right side. Where the menu says "Text," type in "BOOK."

Step 21: Adjust the Dimensions of Your Text

Again using the size modification tool, click and drag the corner of the text so that the dimensions become 4.23 mm in length and 17 mm in width. Make sure it is spatially centralized relative to the book cover, as can be seen above.

Step 22: Place Your Text

Drag the text so that it is a few millimeters under the top of the cover and centralized width-wise on the cover. Using the depth modifier (the black cone), adjust the text's depth so that it is just emerging from the book's cover, as can be seen above.

Step 23: Duplicate Your Text

Select the initial text (Text 1) by clicking it. Press Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, resulting in a new text (Text 2).

Step 24: Change the Angle of Your Text

Using the two rotating tools, adjust the x-axis and y-axis angle of the text so that both are 90 degrees. The text should have its back to the spine of the cover.

Step 25: Place Your Text

Just as you placed the front cover text, use the spatial modifier tools to make sure that the text is centered on the spine and slightly protruding from the spine, as is shown above.

Step 26: Group Your Items

While holding the Shift key, click on Shape 1, Shape 3, Text 1, and Text 2. Once these are all selected, click the "Group" button located in the menu in the top right corner. This will combine the objects into one final object.

Step 27: Review Your Finished Design

Congratulations! You have now finished your digital book design. Within a few more steps, you'll have that exact design in a tangible form.

Step 28: Save and Export Your File

In the upper-right corner, you will see a button that says "Export." Click this button. On the pop-up menu, select to save the item in ".STL" form by clicking the corresponding button. The file will then save to your computer.

Step 29: Go to UF's Printing Lab Website

In your web browser, go to https://3dprint.uflib.ufl.edu. On that webpage, click the menu heading that reads "Request 3D Printing."

Step 30: Provide Your Personal Information

Provide the general personal information requested in the pop-up menu. Make sure to indicate if your print is for personal use or for class use.

Step 31: Attach Your File

On the following page, make sure to name your project, select your preferred colors, and upload the file which you previously exported from Tinkercad. Click Submit and make sure your student account has paid the $3 charge for the print job.

Step 32: Go Pick Up Your Work

You will eventually receive an e-mail from the University of Florida which will indicate that your project is printed. The e-mail will also indicate where to go to pick up your project. Go to where you are notified to go, and now your book is yours to keep. Congratulations!

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    4 years ago

    Was this for a school assignment? It's nice to see so many people using Tinkercad. It's a great tool!