123D Make. Source: Autodesk
123D Make. Source: Autodesk

123D Make, by Autodesk, allows you to turn any 3D model into a home art project. After importing the model into 123D Make, the program slices the model into layers and then creates a template of each slice that can be used to cut out pieces of cardboard. These pieces of cardboard can then be assembled to make a physical 3D object.  

123D Make offers a variety of options and settings. You can import either an OBJ or an STL file. After opening the file in the software, you can adjust Manufacturing Settings for the size of your material (e.g. cardboard) and CNC (computer numerical control) machine settings.

The model can be sized to just about any dimension and is adjustable by height, width and length and in various units.

You can also select a Construction Technique. Depending on which Construction Technique you select, you can stack the slices, which creates a solid model; you can create Interlocking Slices, which forms a framework of the model; or the third option is Folded Panels; this creates slices that you hook together to form the shell of the object.

With each Construction Technique, there are a number of settings to customize your project and select the best options for your model.

Once your model is complete, you can save it to your computer as a 3DMK file. You can also export the sliced mesh as a STL or OBJ file or choose 3D Print…. This option opens the Autodesk 3D Print Utility. From here, you can send your project directly to your MakerBot 3D printer.

123D Make is available in 3 different versions: the web app, the mobile app for your iPhone or iPad and a download for Mac and PC. All of the versions are free and very similar. However, the download on the Mac and PC does offer extra control over your objects with some additional features.

In order to use 123D Make, Autodesk requires that you create a username and password. This allows you to store your projects online, both privately and publicly and download the projects of other users.

123D Make is a fun and easy way to make tangible 3D models from your 3D sketches even if you don’t have access to a 3D printer.