Updated: Jul 14, 2021
It’s the perfect time to learn 3D Design. We are living in an age where the lanes of hardware, software, and education are colliding beautifully into an intersection of tremendous opportunity for makers.
3D printers are becoming more and more accessible to the general public as they become standard equipment in our schools, libraries, and local makerspaces. As the price of printers continue to drop, the number of new hobbyists adopting the technology continue to increase. Make Magazine’s winner of the 2016 3D Printer Shootout was the Prusa i3 mkii, a sub $1000 printer. This would have been unheard of a few years ago.
The accessibility of 3D printers has also paved a similar path for design software. Do a quick search of free CAD software today and you won't know where to begin due to the variety of choices now available. And we're not simply talking about the simple scaled back CAD software meant to introduce kids to design. Take Autodesk for example. They are now offering their professional grade design software Fusion 360 free to hobbyists and small business that make under 100k a year. Similar software would have cost thousands of dollars several years go.
The third lane in this intersection and possibly most exciting is the current availability of high quality affordable educational content in this field. If I were to pick the single most disruptive and beneficial technological movement today it would be the movement towards democratizing education. Long gone are the days where you need to enroll in a brick and mortar institution and take out a hefty loan just to learn a specific skill. Online learning platforms like Udemy, Pluralsight, Lynda, and so on provide excellent training video courses in a large number of fields. They are the perfect segway once you're ready to graduate from the University of YouTube. You can find excellent training videos by very qualified instructors in the field of 3D design in any of these platforms.
This intersection of accessibility between hardware, software, and education creates a tremendous opportunity for us tinkerers, artists, and inventors. If you are able to invest the time in learning how to 3D design you really open up a new world of opportunities for yourself. You essentially equip yourself with the ability to go from an idea in your head to a tangible object in your hand in just a matter of hours. That tangible object can be anything from the hottest new kitchen gadget or that new bracelet design that all the celebrities are wearing. Or it can simply be a piece of furniture for you daughter’s dollhouse or a replacement thingamabob that broke from that expensive appliance. Whatever it is you’ll understand what I mean when I say there is this magical experience that takes place once you’re holding an item in your hand that a few hours ago only existed in your mind.
My big aha! moment with Fusion 360 happened when I finally understood how to use Constraints. Get my free Fusion 360 Constraint Cheat Sheet and see what I mean.