3D Printed DesignSpark. Source: WhiteClouds
3D Printed DesignSpark. Source: WhiteClouds

DesignSpark Mechanical is a computer aided design (CAD) program that is available as a free download. While the software is designed to be intuitive enough for the beginner, the features and user interface are geared toward the designer or engineer who wants to create more precise components and parts. As a result, DesignSpark may be better suited for someone with design experience or the serious tinkerer.

If you are a casual designer, looking to get into 3d design at a basic level, or want to create items with more organic shapes, Tinkercad might be a better program. Furthermore, you will find a more complete library of helpful tutorials with Tinkercad.

DesignSpark will save your design as an STL or OBJ file; these are the file types you will be able to open in MakerWare and be able to print on a MakerBot 3D printer. Here are the steps to save your file as an STL once you have the 3D model created:

Click

File > Save As >Save As

. This will open the Save As window.

In the Save As window, type the name in File name: field.

In the Save as type: drop down, select

OBJ

or

SLT

.

Click

Save

Open the file in MakerWare, make any adjustments you would like to your model, and you’re ready to print.

As we printed some test models with DesignSpark, we found they printed very well. The application makes it easy to put the shapes together to form a single object. We did find that if your shapes are separated, DesignSpark will export the model with the separation between the shapes and MakerWare will import the object with the separation. This is something to watch as any horizontal space between the shapes will interrupt the layering of the 3D print.

DesignSpark is a good application for those looking for a more professional modeling program that’s free. If you’re an inventor, combine DesignSpark with a MakerBot and you’ll be creating prototypes in no time.