Introduction: Personalized Plastic Coin

About: Technology Integration Teacher at a boys private boarding school in Western Massachusetts.

This project can be used as a History Unit, to design currency for a civilization. It could be used as a unit where students design coins for characters in a novel, or as a self-identity coin where the students create coins about themselves and what is important to them.

The project uses Tinkercad and Photoshop to create the imagery and then can be printed on any 3D printer.

Step 1: Materials:

a. iPhone or digital camera

b. Computer with internet connection

c. Subscription to Tinkercad

d. Photoshop

e. 3D Printer Filament

f. Makerbot 3D Printer software and printer

Step 2: Look at the Elements of a Coin.

Have students look at a number of different coins and identify the different kinds of information on a coin:

a. Profile picture (Image)

b. Text – Name of Country (Name of Town where student was born or identifies with)

c. Value of Coin – possibly the name of the student OR a monetary value

d. A latin phrase – E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one)

e. A phrase in English – “In God We Trust”

f. The Date

g. LIBERTY – a word that the student believes in

h. A symbol (building or animal that represents the student)

Step 3: Tinkercad Coin Design

Open up and create an account if you don't already have one.

First, we will make the coin base.

a. Make the coin base

i. Drag in a cylinder

ii. Click on one of the corner squares and where the dimensions show, change the numbers (width and length) from 20.0 mm to 70.0 mm

iii. Click on the center square (height) and change it from 20.0 mm to 5.0 mm iv. With the square still selected, change the number of sides from 20 to 60. This will make the edges much more round.

v. Now, click on your coin, so it is selected and make a copy of it by pressing ‘command’ and ‘C’ at the same time and then paste your copy by pressing ‘command’ and ‘V’ at the same time. vi. Now with the new coin selected, change the length and width to 58.0 mm and the height to .25 mm. vii. Make this new thin coin a hole.

viii. Copy and paste one more of the thin coins to your workspace.

ix. Select the thicker coin and one of the thin coins and then align them so that the hole is in the middle of the length and width, and the TOP of the height.

x. Select both objects and click on the group button. This will cut out the thin coin from the thick, and will make a nice ridge around the edge of the coin.

xi. Now, select your thick coin and the other thin coin and align them so they are centered in the length and width and at the bottom of the height.

ii. Select both shapes and group the two together. Now we have created a ridge on the top and the bottom of the coin.

Step 4: Adding a Face to Your Coin

2. Take a profile picture that is far enough away to get the side profile of your subject so you can see the entire outline of their head. (TIP: It is helpful if there is a solid color behind your subject so that the computer can easily cut out your subject’s head. If they have very dark hair and features, place the person next to a light wall. If they have very light or blond hair, place the person next to a dark wall. The contrast will help you.)

a. Email the photograph to yourself.

b. Take a screen shot of the photograph (this will make the file size much smaller so it can be imported to the .svg website.

c. Open a new tab on your browser and go to

d. Upload the screen shot you just took and choose ‘invert 1’ (this will change your photograph to a vector file.)

e. Take a new screen shot of the vector image (black and white)

f. We will now clean up this vector image in Photoshop.

Step 5: Clean Up the Vector File in Photoshop

Sometimes there are missing lines and extra marks on the vector file that will not print out well on your 3D printer. Use Photoshop to clean up the file for printing. Watch the video above to learn how.

Step 6: Add Your Edited Vector File to Your Coin in Tinkercad

1. Take a screen shot of the edited photograph in Photoshop.

2. Open the internet and navigate back t

Step 7: Add Circular Text to Your Coin

We will now use Photoshop to create circular text for the coin.

a. Open Photoshop

b. Go to ‘file’ and ‘new’ and for the size of your document create 8’’ by 8’’ for length and width.

c. First click on the ‘Elipse’ tool and create a perfect circle by holding the ‘shift’ key as you click and drag your circle.

d. Now, click on the ‘path’

e. Select the “Textbox’ tool and float over the circle until the cursor turns to a squiggly line.

f. Type in your text. (On a quarter the text is “United States of America, but I chose “Massachusetts)

Step 8: Add Circular Text to Coin in Tinkercad.

a. Once again, we will take a screenshot of the image we created in Photoshop.

b. Go to

c. Upload the latest screenshot of the text

d. Download the .svg file

e. Open Tinkercad browser tab

f. Click “import”

g. Select the newly downloaded .svg file

h. Change the size to 10%

i. Move the text to the desired location on the coin.

Step 9: Adding a Date to the Coin.

You can use any program to create regular text that is in a straight line, but to keep the same font that I used with the curved text, I went back to Photoshop.

Follow the same process from the curved text to insert the date on the coin.

Step 10: Exporting the Design to Be Printed on 3D Printer

Once you are happy with your coin design, you can click 'export' in the upper right hand corner of Tinkercad.

You'll next navigate to your Makerbot (3D printing software) and insert the coin file to be printed.

Change the infill % to 75% so you will have a nice sturdy coin.

Click 'Print'

Step 11:

Plastics Contest

Participated in the
Plastics Contest