How To use TinkerCAD to Fix .stl files
As a 3D modeller, I like to think the designs I spend weeks building come out perfect and ready to 3D print.
Like all modelers, realty hits hard when I open the .stl in the slicer program. All modelers know the frustration of finding gaps, holes, and other errors in our design.
In a previous blog I reviewed different CAD programs. Among them, TinkerCAD has actually become my preferred way to fix design errors from other design programs. With my 3DHubs site, I have used TinkerCAD to fix errors in clients files. I have also used it to meet special design request from my clients.
WiFi Case Example
A 3DHubs client ordered a case for his WiFi finder . But with his hardware, he did not need an antenna hole in the back of the case.
plug that was put into the original .stl file using TinkerCAD.
With TinkerCAD, you can import .stl files to modify.(fix 2) You simply import them directly into your workplane.
For this case, I made a plug to fit the hole, and then grouped it to the main body
You can easily make plugs to fit any gaps or holes in your designs using TinkerCAD. By grouping them to the original file, you can smooth out what other design programs may miss.
The final result was a WiFi case with no antenna hole in it. I’ll post the remixed file here.
Spool of Thrones Remix
TinkerCAD can also be used to remix previous designs. In a previous blog I wrote about a spool holder I made for my Lulzbot Taz 5 3D printer. The original holder takes about 8 hours to print at 0.4 mm resolution. While it is beefy enough to handle the heaviest spools of filament, I realized that it is missing something.
I’ve had a few spools of filament tangle badly on me. Every time this has happened, I was scrambling frantically to get to my wire cutters, which had hidden themselves away under my printer.
It was at this point that I remember a lesson from the fishing boats of Alaska. When fisherman work around their nets and lines that can quickly tangle around them, they carry a sharp knife close to them in case they have to quickly cut themselves loose.
I wanted a way to store a pair of wire cutters next to the spool.
I took some quick measurements the tools I wanted to put in this modified holder, and used that to make hole blocks in TinkerCAD.
In TinkerCAD, you use double arrows to rotate your designs. I used this to rotate the holes to an orientation that fit the original spool holder.
I then used the Mirror tool to mirror the holes so they were symmetric on the other side.
I could not use the align tool with all the complex curves of this piece.
After putting all the holes through the original file, it now takes 4 hours to print at 0.4 mm resolution.
The final result was the Spool of Thrones remixed holder . I can now keep 6 tools handy next to the spool.
Water Mark Your Prints
With the recent controversy over someone on ebay pirating 3D modelers, it was suggested that modelers embed watermarks into their prints to deter such latent theft.
Thanks to TinkerCAD, it is easy to quickly embed text into your designs. After you generate your Creative Commons license, you can watermark it onto your prints to let anyone know what your license is. Having it printed into your object will let the consumer know if their object is licensed for sale.
I’ll include a set of Creative Commons markers in the .stl download section.
TinkerCAD is a free program, which is something any startup 3D printer loves. Its simple geometric shapes can be grouped with your imported file to quickly fix errors and customer request from 3DHubs.
For any designer, TinkerCAD can be a great supplemental program to your professional CAD software. Its simplicity will save you the headaches you generate in other programs.