It is a rapidly evolving phenomenon that makes it possible to print 3D models of math concepts, reproductions of historical artifacts, and STEM projects. The printer itself is like a tiny hot glue gun. It squirts molten plastic in the pattern directed by the computer program.
Make Mode: Learn to 3D Print
This is a good intro to 3D printing. It includes information on 3D printing basics, 3D modeling and modeling software, printing uses, printing limitations, buying 3D printers, and processing 3D prints.
You can also make things from scratch. This entails learning a program like Sketchup or TinkerCad. 3ders.org has a list of 3D design software. You start by making a virtual design of the object you want to create. This virtual design is made in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file using a 3D modeling program such as Sketchup Make. The finished file is an .STL file. This file gets sent to the printer which then prints it.
You can download a free copy of Sketchup Make to use on your own computer.
All3DP: STL (3D Printing File Format): Explain Like I‘m Five
This is a good simple explanation of what the basic file of 3D printing is and does.
Free Online STL viewer
You can view an .stl file from your browser:
Earl Center Staff
Earl Center for Learning and Innovation
Tel: 617-879- 2143