3DTin to MakerBot Source: Ollyy/Shutterstock.com
3DTin to MakerBot Source: Ollyy/Shutterstock.com

3DTin is a web-based 3D modeling program that is considered one of the pioneers in browser-based 3D modelling. The goal of 3DTin is to create a program simple enough for beginners to use but still allow the user to create some fairly detailed models.

The program allows you to build 3D models using a variety of geometric shapes that you can alter by size, skew, and reposition. Not only can you save your files to an online account, but you can download an STL or OBJ file and print your creation on your MakerBot.

In a few easy steps you can have your 3D object ready to print. Here they are:

After you have created your 3D model, click the

Save

icon in the top navigation bar.

The Sketch Information screen will open.

Enter a name

for your model.

Add Tags

if you would like, and click

Save

.

NOTE: Your model will be saved publicly and registered as Creative Commons unless you upgrade your account for $9.99 (per year).

Click the

Export

icon in the top navigation bar.

The Export window will open. You can choose to download the file as an STL, DAE, OBJ or PNG. MakerWare is compatible with STL or OBJ. Click the

radio button

next to STL or OBJ.

Click

Download

.

Once you have the file downloaded, open the file in MakerWare, make any adjustments to the size, and you are ready to print.

We learned a few tips and tricks as we experimented with 3D printing models created in 3DTin:

  • Units of measurement in 3DTin are abstract. In other words, one unit in 3DTin may equal 1 cm or it may equal 1 in. Depending on what kind of file you export, you can set the overall dimensions of the object. When you export to STL or OBJ, you will have to set the dimensions of the object in MakerWare. The object we created in 3DTin was 21 units wide by 21 units deep. When we opened it in MakerWare, it was 32 mm wide and 32 mm deep.
  • As you build your models in 3DTin, the software allows you to push one shape into the other. We experimented to see how this would print. We made a very simple model with a cylinder pushed into a rectangle. The model printed fine but having one shape pushed into another does effect the internal structure of the model and how it prints. This may be something to consider, especially when building complicated models with many shapes. Your object will print better if the surfaces touch but one plane does not intersect another.
  • We also experimented with a model where the shapes didn’t completely come together. We discovered that 3DTin will export these models with the space between the shapes and MakerWare will open these models with the space left between the shapes. These models will not print correctly. All of the shapes used to build a model that you’re going to 3D print should be in contact with at least one other shape. To ensure shapes are touching, you can use the snap to grid function.
  • 3DTin offers a variety of colors so you can create your model in a color similar to your MakerBot filament. This gives you a better idea of what your model will look like in real life.

3D printing from 3DTin modeling software is simple and the ability to 3D print a model built in 3DTin opens a new realm of possibilities.