Design Software

In general, shop computers are equipped with all the software you need, but when you’re in the design process, it can be really nice to have software on your own computer so you don’t have to sit in the shop for hours.

So, without further ado, here’s what you’ll need to start designing from home:

For 3D printers:

To make a basic design, you’ll want CAD software -- check out the CAD software page for that.

If the traditional CAD programs seem like too much of a learning curve for the simple part you want to make, consider TinkerCAD, which is online and has generally less functionality but is much much easier and faster to learn.

If you want to mash up other people’s designs (from thingiverse or elsewhere), check out Meshmixer; it’s geared towards 3D printing, which often means it’s easier to do what you want than in a traditional CAD software.

For laser cutting:

You have several options, because all you really need to laser cut is a file; laser cutters can take dwg, svg, jpeg, etc. etc.

Which does mean that you can totally make your laser cutting files in ms paint.

In general, I’d recommend making your file on your favorite drawing program, saving it on a USB drive, bringing it to the shop and opening it on the shop’s vector graphics program. Vector graphics get a little wonky, so it’s easiest if you use the one the shop recommends to connect to their laser cutter.

If you want some drawing tools a little more sophisticated than MS Paint, I’d recommend checking out Inkscape, which has a lot of the capabilities of Illustrator but is free :)

For the shopbot:

Probably this is one for which you’ll want an actual CAD program -- check out the CAD software page for more information.