Many people who want to jump into 3D printing have almost no idea what they actually want to make. Or, they may have projects in mind that far exceed their abilities to fabricate as beginners.
If 3D printing is on your mind (or arriving soon in some shipping boxes and downloads), here are two new books to consider: 3D Printing Projects and 3D CAD with Autodesk 123D.
3D Printing Projects
Toys, Tools, and Contraptions to Print and Build Yourself
Brook Drumm & James Floyd Kelly, with John Baichtal, Rick Winscot, Brian Roe, John Edgar Park, Steven Bolin,
Nick Ernst, and Caleb Cotter
(Maker Media, paperback)
Maker Media’s 3D Printing Projects is written by a team of professionals who have 3D printing newcomers in mind, at first. But their book also includes several more challenging projects that require Arduino or Raspberry Pi boards, motors, servos, or video cameras and other devices. Importantly, all of the projects are designed to be fabricated with small, desktop 3D printers.
The book starts by showing how to fabricate a simple gooseneck lamp that uses an LED light powered by a 9-volt “wall wart.” From there, the projects increase in complexity, to fabricated devices such as a two-axis camera gimbal and a flower-care robot that monitors soil moisture and adds water when the soil gets dry. Numerous photographs, illustrations and how-to steps are provided.
This well-written book shows that much can be done, even at the hobby level, with just a few custom 3D printed parts and some electronics.
3D CAD with Autodesk 123D
Design for 3D Printing, Laser Cutting, and Personal Fabrication
Jesse Harrington Au & Emily Gertz
(Maker Media, paperback)
The first steps to 3D printing include “learning how to design for three dimensions using a computer” and having an idea “where to start,” the authors of this useful book point out.
“Many makers who are accustomed to creating by hand view CAD [computer-aided design] software suspiciously. They may worry that digital design will lack soul, or be perceived as cheating. Neither is true,” Jesse Harrington Au and Emily Gertz insist. “A good CAD program can be just that: an aid in realizing your vision for your project.”
Autodesk 123D is one of several popular “parametric design” software packages on the market. The authors note: “The term parametric refers to the use of design parameters, such as measurements, to construct and control the 3D model. This means you will first create a sketch that has measurements attached to it. Those measurements will be used to construct your solid model using different features such as extrude, revolve, or loft.
“This being said, 123D is also capable of ‘tinkering’: using loosely based measurements while fleshing out the look and feel of your design. The power of this is that it allows you to tweak your model during the design process based on actual measurements.”
The book shows how to navigate CAD programs, and it covers how to work with the cloud-based Autodesk 123D “family of programs that allow you to share models between the different apps.”
3D CAD with Autodesk 123D is richly illustrated and well written, with much of the how-to text contained in short paragraphs that offer clear steps.
— Si Dunn