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3D Printing and Scanning: 3D Design

Learn how to 3D Print and Scan. This guide will give an overview of how to design for and use a 3D printer. There are also helpful links to widen your knowledge of Belk Library and Information Commons' 3D printing and scanning resources.

Why 3D printing?

3D printers can help you make unique creations, prototype ideas, and solve problems.  Print anything from a sculpture to a tool. Need inspiration? If you have an idea but don’t know how to make it happen, contact Hannah Pope at or Karl Moretz at to get started.  


Build a 3D model

Building or finding a 3D object is the first step to 3D printing.  What to make your own?  Here are a few programs that you can use:


The easiest program to use, Tinkercad is perfect for beginners.  Use basic shapes to build items to print.  Tinkercad is also web-based, so you can access your 3D models anywhere!  Here is a quick reference guide to Tinkercad.

Fusion 360

Easy to learn 3D modeling software, and the perfect next step after learning Tinkercad.  Also by Autodesk, Fusion 360 is free for students for up to 3 years.  This program will be able to handle most of your 3D modeling needs.

Fusion 360 logo


3D modeling software that is easy to learn, and available in the Digital Media Studio.

Rhino logo


Another free, open source software, Blender is great for building detailed models and digital environments.  This program is recommended for those who are used to using CAD software as it a more powerful program.

blender logo


Design anything with AutoDesk's ultimate program, AutoCAD.  This is a slightly more advanced program that would work well for engineers or architects, and is available in the Digital Media Studio.


A part of the AutoDesk suite, Maya is a 3D modeling, animation and simulation software.  Available in the Digital Media Studio.

Sketchup Make

A free, 3D drawing tool.

3DS Max

A high powered animation software perfect for game design. 

Need Inspiration?

If you are new to 3D printing and would like to test it out, check out these 3D printing repositories.  Makers from around the world create items and then upload the files and instructions.


Thingiverse is the largest online community of makers who share their ideas and designs.  Simply go to the site and type in the type of object you are interested in making.  Ex. bookmark, jewelry, box, business cards, etc.

thingiverse demo search


Cults website



GrabCAD Library

Another online repository of things to make, focusing on those who enjoy engineering.  It is great for finding parts or building tools.