3D Printing with Autodesk: Create and Print 3D Objects with 123D, AutoCAD and Inventor

John Biehler / Bill Fane  
QUE Publishing
Total pages
May 2014
Related Titles

Product detail

Title no longer available


3D Printing with Autodesk  covers everything the reader needs to know -- even absolute beginners, and even if for readers who do not own a 3D printer. This book takes students all the way from idea to physical object in practically no time. One of the few 3D printing books that also focuses on the project design, it's packed with full-color photos and screen shots that make 3D printing easier than it's ever been before. Step by step, the authors cover the full Autodesk 123D suite, as well as alternative tools from Autodesk and other software companies.


  • Packed with full-color photos and screen shots
  • Covers the full Autodesk 123D suite, including Design, Catch, and Creature (as well as AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, and alternative tools)
  • One of the few 3D printing tutorials that also focuses on project design
  • No technical background required, and 3D printer ownership not required: covers how to use third-party printing services

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Rise of 3D Printing 1

3D Printing Will Change the World 2


Chapter 2 Basic Principles of 3D Printing 5

How 3D Printing Works 5

    Layered Approach to 3D Printing 5

    Printing Time for Layers 17

        A More Realistic 3D Printing Example 18

Two Basic Types of Printers 20

    Deposition—Deposit This… 20

    Fusion—Take This Material And Stick It… 20

    Stacking Up: The Third Type of 3D Printing Process 21

Pros and Cons of 3D Printing Processes 21

    Pros and Cons of Deposition Printers 21

    Pros and Cons of Fusion Printers 24

Summary 24


Chapter 3 123D Creature for iPad 25

Creating a Creature 26

    Adding Bones and Joints 30

        Moving the Model 31

    Sculpting Your Creature 32

Working with Control Options 34

    Sharing Your Creature 45

Summary 50


Chapter 4 Creating 3D Objects with Cameras and 123D Catch 51

Photographing Objects 52

Correcting the Model 56

    Orienting the Model 59

    Repairing the Model 60

Summary 62


Chapter 5 Introducing 123D Design for iPad 63

123D Design Interface 65

    Primitives Parts 66

    Parts Kit Library 68

        Rotate Tool 70

        Scale Tool 70

        Adjust 71

        Combine Tools 74

        Reshape Tools 76

        Take a Picture Option 80

    Object Editing Tools 80

Project/File Menu Options 82

    Projects and Galleries 83

    Additional Support 83

    Saving to the Cloud 84

    Camera View 85

Summary 85


Chapter 6 123D Design Exercises for iPad 87

Creating New Projects 87

    Scaling and Smoothing Edges 91

    Using the Chamfer Tool 94

Manipulating Existing Projects 96

    Aligning the Model 100

    Finishing the Model 103

Sending a File to a 3D Printer 105

Summary 106


Chapter 7 Workspace Basics of 123D Design for Mac and PC 107

123D Design Templates 108

Starting a New Project 109

    Toolbar Controls 111

    Menu Options 113

Summary 120


Chapter 8 123D Design Exercises for Mac and PC 121

Exercise: Create a Coffee Mug 122

    Making the Mug Handle 129

Exercise: Create a Business Card Holder 140

Summary 149


Chapter 9 Preparing 3D Models for Printing 151

Code Used for Printing a 3D Model 152

Scale and Dimension 155

Manifold Geometry 156

Orientation 158

    Adding Support Material 159

    Place Good Side of Model Against Print Bed 160

    Consider Print Orientation 160

Summary 161


Chapter 10 The Difference Between Surface and Solid Models 163

The Solid Facts About CAD 163

Animated 3D CAD Models 166

Show Me Some Skin Models 168

AutoCAD Versus Inventor 171

Summary 172


Chapter 11 Why and How to Use 3D Printing 173

What Can Possibly Go Wrong, Go Wrong, Go Wrong… 173

    Using 3D Prototypes to Verify Designs 176

Manufacturing Small Quantities with 3D Printing 181

Creating Metal Parts with 3D Printing 182

Allowing for Shrinkage 183

    Using 3D Printing for Large Parts 184

Summary 184


Chapter 12 Designing Easy-to-Print Parts 185

Design Versus Make—Know the Process 185

    We Can Do This the Hard Way… 187

    …Or We Can Do This the Easy Way 189

Helpful Hints to Minimize Problems 191

    Size of the Little Details Matters 192

    No Visible Means of Support 192

        Fusion-Type Printers 194

        Deposition-Type Printers 194

Creating Usable 3D-Printable Threads 196

Solutions to 3D Printing Large Objects 197

Summary 198


Chapter 13 Designing Multipart Models to Print Preassembled 199

Effects of Printer Resolution on Parts 199

    Using Derived Part Functionality 200

Resolving Interference Problems 203

    Problems Unique to AutoCAD 203

    Issues with Ball and Roller Bearings 203

        Ball and Bearing Solutions 205

Considerations Before Using 3D Printing for Parts 208

    When Not to Use 3D Printing 209

Summary 211


Chapter 14 Exporting Models to a 3D Printer 213

Exporting STL Files 213

    Using Inventor to Export Files 213

    Using AutoCAD to Export Files 215

    Scale 216

    Optional Extras 217

        Resolution Setting Options 219

        Assemblies as Separate Files Option 219

Viewing STL Parts 220

    Inventor 2013 Users, Do NOT Try This at Home 220

        Inventor 2014’s Own File Naming Quirk 221

    Using STL Files to Translate CAD Models 222

Something Completely Nerdy 222

    The STL File Format Explained 222

        The Three Sides of STL Files 224

    G-Code Used to Send STL Files 225

Summary 227


Chapter 15 Using Inventor to Print Directly to Third-Party 3D Printing Services 229

Connecting to a Third-Party Print Service 229

    Options for 3D Printing 232

More Inventor STL Export Options 232

    3D Print Preview Button Bar Options 234

    Using the Assembly One File Option 237

Summary 239


Chapter 16 Using a Third-Party 3D Printing Service Bureau 241

Reasons to Use a Third-Party Service Bureau 241

    Capability of Service Bureau Machines 242

    Players in the Third-Party Service Arena 242

Uploading 3D Projects to Third-Party Services 242

    Ordering a 3D Print 242

        Using the Edit Details Tab 247

Pricing and Materials Options 249

    Checkout Options 252

Summary 252


Chapter 17 The Future of 3D Printing 253

The Future According to Bill 253

The Future According to John 255


Index 257


John Biehler has been writing online about technology since 1999. An avid photographer and generally curious geek, he discovered 3D printing a number of years ago and built his first 3D printer shortly thereafter. Since then, he has been actively sharing his knowledge about the technology with thousands of people at various events and conferences in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, on television and radio, as well as online through his website. He cofounded a Vancouver-area group of 3D printer builders and enthusiasts that has grown exponentially since it started and as the technology heads toward the mainstream.


Bill Fane was a product engineer and then product engineering manager for Weiser Lock in Vancouver, British Columbia, for 27 years and holds 12 U.S. patents. He has been using AutoCAD for design work since Version 2.17g (1986) and Inventor since version 1.0 beta

(1996). He is a retired Professional Engineer and an Autodesk Authorized Training Centre (ATC) certified instructor. He began teaching mechanical design in 1996 at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Vancouver, including such courses as AutoCAD,

Mechanical Desktop, Inventor, SolidWorks, machine design, term projects, manufacturing processes, and design procedures. He retired from this position in 2008. He has lectured on a wide range of AutoCAD and Inventor subjects at Autodesk University since 1995 and

at Destination Desktop since 2003. He was the AUGI CAD Camp National Team instructor for the manufacturing track. He has written more than 220 “The Learning Curve” AutoCAD tutorial columns for CADalyst magazine since 1986. He is the current author of the book AutoCAD for Dummies. He also writes software product reviews for CADalyst, Design Product News, and Machine Design. He is an active member of the Vancouver AutoCAD Users Society, “the world’s oldest and most dangerous.” In his spare time he skis, water skis, windsurfs, scuba dives, sails a Hobie Cat, rides an off-road motorcycle, drives his ’37 Rolls Royce limousine or his wife’s ’89 Bentley Turbo R, travels extensively with his wife, and plays with his grandchildren.