3D design tips
3D design tips
The many options for designers
Apart from 3D printing existing models, there is nothing like having an object that you've both designed and printed yourself. It means you're starting to master the skill of changing the material world around you, starting out with just thoughts, an idea. There are many choices of design software, but they can be very different in many respects. We've ranked the following list primarily from easy to hard and from affordable to expensive (secondarily).
3D scanning programs
photo to 3D programs and services
There are some 3D scanning options. Reconstructme is the most impressive, because it works almost entirely real-time, creating a 3D model of things you view with a camera. http://reconstructme.net/
There's also a web-service called http://www.123dapp.com/catch). Use it to take pictures on trips, with your family, or of favorite places and turn them into a personal sculpture.
3D design programs and services
|Program name||GUIDES!||Ease of use||Cost||Limitations||Comments||3Dtin.com||VERY easy||$ 0||Many||You design blocky things from your web browser! Need to sign up to save/export.||tinkerCAD.com||GUIDE||VERY easy||Unknown||Many||Easy, powerful and quick! Not open source. Not released yet!||Google SketchUp||GUIDE||Easy||$ 0||Some, but very powerful||Very useful for simple design, easiest to learn. A free plugin  is available to convert .skp files to .stl||OpenSCAD||GUIDE||Advanced/programming||Free||Few, can be cumbersome||Very nice if you're a programmer. Free Software!||CloudSCAD||INFO||Easy, specify numbers to change designs||Free||Few, if you start changing code||Web-based: work in progress, closed beta!||Blender||GUIDE||Hard||Free||Some||Many tutorials to learn it. Is actually a mesh modeler, not a solid CAD tool.||Alibre||GUIDE||Medium/hard||$ 99||Professional level CAD||One of the more affordable, fully featured packages. Not free/open source! Notes:  The package is $ 99 but you must purchase one year of support at $ 99. You get free upgrades within that year.||Autodesk 123D||GUIDE||Medium/Easy||$ 0||Is still a beta||Performance on some computers is bad, only works on windows|
- How to simplify a mesh (by Pieter Bos)
Sometimes a mesh has too much detail and the printer will slow down in an attempt to include every detail. If you reduce the complexity of very detailed models, it will allow you to print them much faster. This video tutorial by Pieter Bos will teach you how to do this.