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3D Thursday is a feature about CNC Machining, 3D Printing, 3D Scanning, and 3D design that appears in MAKE every Thursday.

Like Tinkercad, 3DTin is completely browser-based. There's a large number of pre-built shapes that you can edit and drop right in. Try it here.

Let’s be honest, 3D CAD (computer aided design) is challenging to learn. Training your brain to manipulate and visualize parts in three dimensions is a learned skill. So where do you start? Thankfully, there’s a multitude of free tools available for everyone to try their hand at 3D design. And many of them don’t even require a download anymore. A simple web app will get you pretty far.

I’ve compiled the best resources I know of for dealing with 3D parts and I will list them here in two parts. This week I’m going to focus on 3D part creation and slicing, the two first steps in printing out a part on a 3D printer. Everything listed in the slideshow below is free to use (at least to a certain extent).

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Keep your eye out for part 2, which will cover controlling 3D printers from computers or over wifi as well as more “advanced” options like 3D scanning.

Did I miss your favorite CAD or slicing software? Let me know with a comment below.

Eric Weinhoffer

Eric is a Manufacturing Engineer at Other Machine Co., where he uses large machines to make smaller machines. When not building things, Eric enjoys skiing, cycling, and climbing.


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