Design for 3D Printing Without CAD

No CAD Necessary

Explore 3D printing with zero CAD experience necessary. Creating your own design from scratch is hugely rewarding, but learning a traditional CAD package can be intimidating. Here are 3 ways you can make physical objects with free online resources. Yes, in the literal sense the web applications are still CAD.

Print an Existing Model

Browsing the existing designs is a great way to get excited and learn just what is possible with a 3D printer. Thingiverse and Youmagine are active online communities where people share 3D printing models.
thingiverse_2 youmagine
Designers upload models for you to print or modify. These communities offer social features for commenting on a design as well as liking or collecting. Creating collections in your account is a simple way to keep up with the things you want to print or visit again.

Use Customizer

Thingiverse includes an online customizer. Customizer is a web app to modify specially designed models for personalizing names, sizes, and other features. Example customizer designs are bracelets with lettering embossed, word sculptures, and vases.

Customizable flexible name bracelet


Polygon Vase, Cup, and Bracelet Generator



Create Your Own Design

Project Shapeshifter is a web app from Autodesk Labs to make complex geometries. The designs may be shared with a custom URL or exported for printing. The application features templates for bracelets, vases, bowls and more. The standard and advanced controls modify several parameters of the design and pattern components. The instant visual feedback and simple controls make exploring design parameters easy.


Now What? Print the object.

Online printing services are available from Shapeways and Ponoko. Each day more and more 3D printing services are showing up online. Check locally for a makerspace or hackerspace.

Mobile Makerspace is located in Mobile Alabama. We provide a place where members and the community can share workspace and tools for creation. Classes on 3D printing and design will be offered soon. Be sure to sign up for our events and announcements email list to get early access to class registration.

Shapeoko 3D Carver Build Day

Makerspace and community members gathered to help assemble the Shapeoko 3D carver Mobile Makerspace won in the Inventibles 50 States contest. The build was held at Shelby Hall on University of South Alabama campus. Local Jubilee BEST robotics mentors joined us to watch the assembly process. They are looking to add a Shapeoko for their students to use in creating gears and other robot components.

We completed assembling the mechanical components of the Shapeoko mill. Wiring the motors and controller remains. The assembly isn’t difficult. Keeping the bags of bolts and nuts organized was crucial. We did have to re-tap several parts because we didn’t tap deep enough during the original prep.

Here is a time-lapse video Geoff compiled of the build:

June Events

Great turnout for June Artwalk at our new location. Lots of new faces and excitement about Mobile Makerspace. We plan to continue having open house during LoDa Artwalk. It’s held the second Friday of the month from 6-9PM. Be sure to stop by and check our progress and exciting member projects.

Sparks a Reaction was a success with the families. Davidson’s Jubilee BEST robotics team let people operate one of the previous year’s robots. Makerspace members brought demonstrations for non-Newtonian fluids, a robotic camera platform, several different RC helicopters. Retro games were run from a Raspberry Pi and projected onto a big screen in the alcove. We also demonstrated 3D printing and more member projects.

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