Host a 3D Printing Class for Kids

Colby teaches 3D printing classes to kids. He says they are eager to learn, and they consider it a game. Of course, teaching children isn’t always the easiest thing.

Kids are the future, after all.

Here’s a brief lesson plan created by Colby:


3D Printers

Sharpened Putty Knife

SD Card

Blue Painters Tape

3D Printing Filament  (1 KG roll per 4 students)

Internet Access

Computers (1 per student)

3D Printing Slicing Software

Extension cords (optional)

Power strips (optional)

Air Compressor

Rocket launcher – This link includes steps for creating an air pump:

Measuring tape

Special protractor

Prior to Club Meeting:

Follow these steps while preparing for a 3D printing camp:

  1. Make sure students under 14 have parental permission to create a Tinkercad account.
  2. Find appropriate locations for launching rockets and plugging in an air compressor.
  3. Check printers to ensure they are working properly.
  4. Check that build plate is level before the first class.

You might also consider inviting students to bring their own laptops, so you will not have to supply all of them.

In this lesson, participants will learn how to use TinkerCad to model. They will utilize engineering principles to come up with unique designs for rockets and learn how to use 3D printers to make their own rockets.

What to Do:

Prior to teaching the first lesson, you may want to show students some tutorials on how to use the Tinkercad program.

Here, you can find Tinkercad tutorials:

This is how to use the align tool:

Lesson 1: 3D Printing

Length: 15 minutes

Explain various types of 3D Modeling.

There are hundreds of programs out there. Each has unique strengths and challenges. There are three main types of 3D modeling–sketch based, sculpting, and geometric shaped.

  • Elements of sketch based modeling

Programs: Solidworks, Onshape, Fusion 360, Sketchup

Favorite among: Mechanical engineers

Strengths: Sketch based modeling is very good for engineering projects because the shapes can be tied to a lot of math and are geometrically constrained in every way that you could think of to produce the exact shape you want.

Challenges: It is tricky to model something that has a lot of curves. An example of that is when you want to model a human face. If you tried to model a face through sketch based modeling, it would take many hours.

  • Elements of sculpting

Programs: Z-brush, Sculptris, various browser based sculpting, and Blender.

Favorite among: Artists

Strengths: Sculpting works well when doing things with curves. If you want to 3D Sculpt a face, it can take as little as 30 seconds. High end sculpting allows you to texturize objects, such as texturing a circle to look like a rock.

Challenges: Trying to use exact dimensions can be difficult.

  • Elements of geometric modeling

One way to solve issues seen in sculpting and sketched based modeling is to draw something up in a sketch based program and then load it into a sculpting program to get a desired look. Another solution is to use a type of modeling which combines the best parts of sketch based modeling and sculpting called geometric shape based modeling.

Programs: Tinkercad, Minecraft, and various AutoDesk 123D Softwares.

In our class, we will use TinkerCad.

Invite students to follow these steps to create a Tinkercad account.

  1. Go to Sign in or create a new account in the top right corner. Note: If they need to get parental permission to activate their account then they can temporarily use the teacher’s account for the day. But they still need get their personal account activated.  
  1. Click on the TinkerCad box in the top left to get to account home page.  


  1. There, select “create new design”. It will be located just under where is says “all designs”.

Invite students to create a particular design or create their own thing.

  1. Demonstrate the basic tools and how to 3d model

Show work plane. Teach them how to rotate around their object. Show them the measuring tool.

      2. Help them modify shapes

Teach them to translate shapes. Teach them to copy and paste shapes. Teach them to put holes in shapes. Help them align shapes and change color. Show them how to lock shapes into position.


Questions on how to do any of these steps? Here’s a great tutorial on TinkerCad. Let us know how you lesson with kids went in the comment section below!




How to Go From Idea to Prototype in Weeks

Not too long ago, Char Hatch gave birth to India Scarlet, a baby girl.  A few months ago , she gave birth to a new idea. She wanted to create a lightweight bracelet for hair ties. After only weeks, she had her first prototype. Now, her product is on market, and she hopes to quadruple her income. Have a great idea? Here are some easy steps to get you from a good idea to a great prototype:

  1. Recognize a good idea.

Look for ideas that solve main points.  Take something fun to the extreme.  Char said she recognized a good idea after watching a video about it.  Good ideas can involve finding other good ideas and tweaking them

      2. Do research.  

Ask anyone you run into if he or she thinks your idea is a good.  Hold focus groups and see if people will choose your idea. Go out to stores and pay attention to what people are doing. You might discover that the product already exists.

    3. Talk to Experts.

People have done this before.  Get in contact with someone who can help.  Ask questions. It’s better to learn from someone else than from your own errors.

      4. Create A Model.

You can use various programs to model your product.  However, the best solution is to hire an expert.  We, and others like us, can design it for you. Said Char Hatch,“Custom Engineering came up with a blueprint for it and printed the sample for it. I
don’t know where else you could do that without it being expensive!”

      5. Print your Model.

You can get a prototype very quickly. Literally. When we helped Char, we had about four prototypes finished in 20 minutes. Some sources are expensive, but cheap options exist. Look for people in the community who own printers, and they can help.

Creating a product isn’t as difficult as you think. Don’t waste your time wondering if you might sell. Go out and do the work. Find out for yourself by researching and creating prototypes. Good ideas can change the world!

The Different Types of 3D Printing Enthusiasts

Sometimes, people put 3D printing into a box. Yes, a printer might be a box, but that doesn’t mean your imagination should be. People can use 3D printing for a variety of projects ranging from artistic to business-oriented to just plain silly.  We talked to three very different individuals about what they use 3D printing for:



Char is a 27 year-old mommy of two living in SoCal. She loves surfing and runs Char’s Unique Creations, an online Amazon store. Recently, she created a hair tie bracelet made from aluminum. She started the process by working with our company to build samples of what she wanted. Then, she went to Custom Products to get her bracelets machined into metal. Now, the bracelets are up are and available to purchase online! We think they are pretty dang adorable.



Hyrum is a ten-year-old in Erda, UT. He’s crazy goofy, and he wanted a giant sword. So, we printed him one. Then, he tried to attack the family cat with it. He said 3D printing makes things look really awesome.



Craig is an Entomologist in his 40s working with Utah State University. He does scientific research on bees. He used 3D printing to create a faster solution to getting pollen off bees.Now instead of spending hours scraping pollen off bees, a 3D printed design solved the problem!


Kickstarter Campaigns for Printers We Wish We Could Buy

I recently tried to come up with some options for printing doll’s clothing (yes, I’m still a young girl at heart). I ended up finding a lot of cool Kickstarter campaigns that failed, are in the process, or are still trying to satisfy backers.

Here’s some printers I really wish were on the market now:

  1. Olo

Olo, sometimes called Ono, has over 2 million backers on Kickstarter, and there is a reason for it. The resin 3D printer is going for $99. Even better? You can run the software right from your phone. I love how the printer looks modern, is cheap (college people always like cheap things), and seems pretty easy. Plus, they say sapphire is a-soon-to be offered color. Blue is my favorite color!

2. Electroloom

This invention sounds so cool, and I’m bummed things didn’t turn out for the company. They didn’t get the necessary funding. I think they’re cool because they 3D print fabric! That’s right. Fabric. I would love to design my prom dress and then print it. Alternatively, it’d be great to walk up in the morning, digitally design a mood fitting shirt, and have it printing while I chow down on a healthy breakfast. Who knows what will happen in 50 years?

3. Peachy Printer

This is a self assembly kit for only $100 dollars. Sadly, there was some embezzlement problems, and they’re still trying to get the product out to backers. I hope things work out for them though because an super cheap resin 3D printer would be amazing!

4. Prometheus

This isn’t actually a 3D printer. It’s an upgrade, but I think it would be great! It’s a current campaign which has received more than quadruple in backing. I love the idea because it enables you to 3D print in many colors. Yes!

Anyways, I thought these campaigns all seemed pretty cool, and it just shows us what is possible. I can’t wait to see what 3D printing will be like when I’m old and wrinkly.



A Three Year Old Gets A New Hand

Colby met the Christensen family while working at a 3D printing trailer  during the Utah County Fair. Their little boy was missing a hand, and they’d been thinking about printing him one.

It was perfect for us because Colby’s been wanting to print a hand for some time. He jumped in to help them out! While working at the fair, he started printing parts for the hand.

We spent several Mondays over at the Christensen household putting the hand together. We considered various sizes and printed multiple prototypes. Finally, the young lad had a finished hand!  We’re not done yet though. An even better hand is in the works.

I interviewed their three-year old Daxton about his hand, and he excitedly told me how happy he is about it. He got to pick the colors for one of the prototypes, and he’s happy its blue and orange. He said he enjoys moving his hand, and he’s played football with it. He hopes to be able pick stuff up with the new hand they’re working on.

He’s been going around telling friends and others about his new ‘robot hand’. For Halloween, he plans to dress up as Darth Vader using his new hand.

My husband really enjoyed learning how to create hands and so did I.  He said he taled to another kid who wants to print hands for his Eagle Scout project. It’s pretty fun to help other people!

Want to create a 3D printing hand? Here’s some step-by-step instructions.


3D Print Your Halloween Costume (And More)


My husband has been 3D modeling since he was nine. He’s as advanced as they come.

I, however, am a newbie. I never tried it until  a year ago while taking a class from my hubby. At the time, I didn’t really understand what was going on, so I got a lot of assistance.

My real first attempt to model was for my Halloween costume last year.

I decided to be Sadness from Pixar’s Inside Out. Using a simple modeling program called TinkerCad, I created glasses for my costume. As you can see, my first attempt wasn’t the best (the glasses are WAY too small), but it worked!

Halloween is coming up again, and 3D printing is a great way to create your own unique costume or decorate a creepy front yard. You can 3D model something yourself, hire someone (like us), or  search through hundreds already created options on Thingiverse.

Here are some cool 3D printing Halloween ideas:

1-Accessorize your costume.

Colby 3D printed a hand for a two-year old boy missing one. The kid’s going to use it in real life too, but he decided the robohand needs to be part of his Halloween costume. Last I heard, he’s debating between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. If you don’t want to do the robot hand but want to stick with the Star Wars theme–consider printing a lightsaber or cool Darth Vader mask.

2-Print a Jack-O-Lantern instead of carving it.

Carving pumpkins is cool, but it can get messy with all the gooey guts and dangerously sharp knives. You want to enjoy Halloween’s scariness, not create fear with a severed finger. Last year, Colby taught kids  to 3D model by helping them design their own scary pumpkin faces. Here are the results!

3-Decorate your house.

Create a Halloween madhouse with spider webs, skeletons, and celebration plaques.  Whatever says Halloween to you, you can print it.

4-Go all out!

Why just accessorize your costume when you can print the whole darn thing?  Store bought costumes are just expensive, and, let’s face it, they don’t look nearly as good. DIY costumes are a popular alternative, so make it easy on yourself by letting a printer do all the work. And, if you don’t own a printer yourself, we’ll print it for you.

Brainstorming this list was fun, but I kept coming up with more creepy ideas! Halloween is a time to let the imagination run wild and free, after all. Why not print a Halloween basket to go with your kid’s outfit? Or, you could create eerie cookie cutters. Put crazy eyeballs on a cake. Create a spooky car antenna cap.

The possibilities are endless, so go out  and dream of something strange and unusual. Happy Halloween!

The STEM Dilemma: Girls in STEM

The USA has been unable to  fill demand for STEM employment despite growing needs. Right now, we have 500,000 unfilled jobs in STEM, but it is estimated to be 2.5 million by 2018.

While the majority of college graduates are female, more men pursue STEM-related careers than women, according to the White House website.  This lack of career pursuits keeps America from developing as rapidly as it might be. This problem could be resolved if MORE women  participated in STEM careers.

One way to address this problem is to engage and excite girls about STEM  topics when young. 3D printing is a great way to learn STEM skills like engineering, algebra and geometry. Studies show that girls are more interested  in STEM once applied  to ‘feminine’ topics  such as cosmetics or shopping. 

Colby gave some insights into girls in his 3D printing classes during a Q & A:

How many girls were in the 3D printing class?

Approximately 75 girls between 7-11 were in STEM class, 10-25%

What did they print?

Flowers, hearts, their names

Why were they taking class?

He asked EVERY girl and these were answers given.

  • For Fun
  • Future hopes of STEM career
  • Literally just to watch 3D printing
  • Wanted to learn to do 3D printing

What were some concern or dissatisfactions the girls experienced?

They all loved it. They felt disappointed that class wasn’t longer. The program had a steep learning curve, teaching was too fast for some because software was complicated They wanted to use their own printer instead of share.At the end of class,  they wished they had their own printer

What are some specific challenges in learning that these girls faced?

They liked TinkerCad a lot more. It was easy for them to learn. But, I taught Onshape because it provided much more learning of STEM like Geometry. They can’t learn Geometry in TinkerCad.

There you have it! Girls love 3D printing. It’s a great way for them to gain essential STEM skills for a future STEM world.


Strange (and really cool) Filament Types

It’s true that people usually print in PLA or ABS plastic. But, there are all kinds of interesting filaments out there. Bored or interested in trying something new? From wood to aluminum, here are some of our favorite filament options:wood

  1. Wood

We purchased some wood filament and tried it out. It’s not the best thing around. Picture the glue and sawdust toys during WWII. That’s what you’re going to get. Still, it’s a lot of fun. Wood you like to try it?

2. Nylon

Nylon is a great choice if you want something flexible. It’s also super strong. Literally, it’s used in parachutes for skydiving. So, if you want something you can bend a lot, nylon works well.

  3. Aluminum

Searching through Amazon, we found some aluminum filament. It’s made from 40% aluminum and 60% PLA. We haven’t tried it yet, but you want to. You’ll have to let us know what your experience is like.


4. Chocolate

Feeling hungry? Chocolate is a popular option when 3D printing! Colby is creating a lesson plan now to teach kids to print candy. Holidays are coming up, so you could make something edible and personalized too.

Know any other fun filament types? Let us know in the comments below!