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Happy New Year, and welcome to the Illinois 4-H Emerging Technologies: 3D Printing & Design


Here you will find resources to help you start your own 3D Printing & Design SPIN Club, or Fair Project.

The purpose of this page is to act as a springboard for you to explore this exciting field on your own. While there are many explanations and resources on this page, to maximize your learning experience, it is up to you to dig deeper and follow your interests and curiosity wherever they may take you. Using the internet as a resource, you will be able to explore the complete body of knowledge this field has to offer! We will periodically add content and links to this site for those interested in staying up to date with the 3D Printing field.

Don't have a 3D printer?! No worries, there are a number of Maker Spaces, and Fabrication Labs throughout the state that will help get your 3D designs printed. In addition, many public libraries now have 3D printers availible to the public. All it takes is a quick google search. Also, check with your local 4-H office for nearby resources. 


So what would a 3D Printing/Design SPIN Club Cover? Below is an example of activities your SPIN Club could engage in:

  • Learn what 3D printing and design are?
  • Learn what is 3D printer is and how it works?
  • Learn about modern CAD software
  • Learn how to design in CAD environments
  • Learn about G-Code and how it is used to control a 3D printer
  • Learn basics of 3D printing and troubleshooting
  • Print and design your own models/prototypes
  • Learn about free 3D object libraries


3D Printing Safety


While 3D printing can be fun and exciting, it is always necessarry to stay safe, especially when dealing with hotends and moving parts. Below are a list of guidelines to keet you safe:

  1. Always wear safety glasses when operating or observing the 3D printer up close.

  2. Never operate the printer without the permission of your leader.

  3. Never leave the 3D printer unattended when printing.

  4. Turn the 3D printer off when cleaning or applying glue to the heated bed.

  5. Ensure the part being printed fits within the machines size constraints in the print preview window of slicer.

  6. Keep fingers, jewelry, loose clothing, and long hair away from the moving parts of the 3D printer.

  7. DO NOT TOUCH the print nozzle or heated bed while the machine is on. These parts can become extremely hot and could result in burns.

  8. Allow the 3D printer to cool down for a minimum of 10 minutes before removing parts from the build plate.

  9. Turn the 3D printer off before removing parts from the build plate.

  10. If the 3D printer appears to be behaving improperly report this to the leader immediately.

  11. All accidents must be reported to the leader immediately.

Much of the information contained on this site was adopted from SeeMeCNC Educate (https://www.seemecnc.com/pages/seemeeducate), a company focused on developing awesome 3D printers and content around them. illinois 4-H uses their printers and have had success with them in the past. Follow the modules below to get an introduction to 3D printing and design!

Below the modules, you will find additional resources to guide you through the 3D printing process!


Lesson 1: Discussing Positives and Negatives: All technology can be viewed as having both good and bad impacts. Have a class discussion around positive and negative impact of 3D printing technologies.


So What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is a fairly new technology that allows for a user to create 3-dimensional objects from digital design files. This growing technology has begun to revolutionize the world of manufacturing and prototyping.

A 3D printer works by following a series of computer commands that tell the 3D printer where to print, how much to print, and when to print. These instructions are often communicated to the printer through a computer language called G-code. The printer feeds melted filament, usually a plastic composite, through a computer controlled nozzle, laying it down one layer at a time in the shape of your object. This process involves the printer to print multiple layers of filament on top of each other until the desired object is created.  

The objects to be printed are designed using a Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, which converts your object into a 3-D file read by a 3D slicing program. The 3D slicing program then converts your object into G-code, or something similar, which then tells your printer exactly what to do to print your object. What this means is that you can design an object in a CAD program, export it to a 3D printer, and sit back as your machine prints your design!


Please read the following Article and click the image below to get a better understanding of the field of 3D printing and Design. There are several videos included in this link which should also be watched.

3D Printing: What a 3D Printer Is and How It Works- https://www.livescience.com/34551-3d-printing.html

3D Printing and the Future of Stuff!- https://youtu.be/5YYPJzeSj9Y  


Please watch the following video to get a brief lesson in the history of 3D printing: 

A Brief History of 3D Printing - MakerBot vs Formlabshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9d8mhGaOaw



Please click the image below to WATCH a video explaining T WHERE THE 3D PRINTING MARKET IS HEADED:

Video: Will 3D printing really become a household trend?

Will 3D printing really become a household trend?- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4nENtfXQNk



Please watch the following video to learn about the history of the revolutionary Rep Rap 3D Printer

RepRap History-3D printing- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW_7lZF08Ic



Filaments: The food for your 3D Printer

When it comes to 3D printing, there are many print materials at your disposal. Modern 3D printers are able to print in a number of plastics, mixed compounds like carbon fiber, a variety of metals, and even wood! In order to produce solid objects in these materials, a 3D printer uses a filament, or long spool of plastic “string” of the material, to melt and reconstruct into the object. To help you better understand the types and properties of 3D printer filament, please read the article and watch the videos below:


PLA vs ABS: FIlaments for 3D printing Explained & Compared: https://all3dp.com/pla-abs-3d-printer-filaments-compared/

PLA vs ABS | What's the Difference for 3D Printing?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC_z6jznFPY

5 ways to ruin your filament (and how to fix it)!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlmCc-vRNr0

Q&A 002: Selecting the right 3D filament?!- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS0JaXc8uAo



Free 3D Printable Library Links: 



Lesson 2: The 3D Printing Process


If you have a 3d printer, you need to feed it with data. The typical workflow is as follows:

  1. Create a 3d model and export it in stl format or get it from the internet.

  2. Arrange one or more models on a virtual print plate.

  3. Slice the the models into thin slices and compute a path for the printer extruder. This is done by a slicing software, which converts the model into g-code, the language your printer speaks.

  4. Check the created g-code for errors and printability.

  5. Send the g-code directly from a computer to your printer via a USB cable or copy the code to a sd card, which you can insert into your printer.

  6. Monitor your printer.

Except for point 1 most 3D printers can handle most of these tasks in one application. This is especially true of most modern 3D printers which come with their own proprietary slicer software.  


To learn about the 3D printing process, please click on the image below to watch a short video explaination:

Infographic: How a 3D Printer Works- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33YdIe5JABA&t=4s 


Media Folder



Media Folder



Media Folder



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SLice 2

Media Folder


 To watch how a computer coverts your CAD design to a printable file, click the image below:

Slicing vid

Media Folder

Animation of STL Generation and Slicinghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80aXU5q2Kgg


Media Folder

 For a complete list of G-Code Commands, Please follow this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G-code




Media Folder



Lesson 3: Understanding Shapes and Drawing Information


 Most Computer Aided Design Softwares use a standard method to display and navigate around objects. The Following link will provide you with the introductory knowledge necessarry to understand CAD drawing information:  Understanding Drawing Information

Once you go through the module, please visit the links below to start modeling in 3 dimensions!



TinkerCad is one of the easiest CAD environments to get started in, and is all availible online! The site offers Step by Step lessons and video tutorials to help you along the way. To get started you must first register with Autodesk. 




Blender is more advanced version of TinkerCAD and is 100% opensourced, meaning it is free to download and modify. In this 3D printing and modeling course, kids (and adults) learn how to design their own robot for 3D printing! You'll learn Blender, a professional-level, open-source 3D modeling software, working with shapes to create a 3D model of a robot, and preparing and printing your robot with Shapeways.




Solid works is an advanced engineering CAD software. While it is not opensourced, the SOLIDWORKS App for Kids is free. SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids allows you to create, revise and express your ideas on a user and kid friendly interface. You can 3D-print or share your creations with other dreamers to make them come alive. For this App, you will need to register with SOLIDWORKS. 



There are many CAD programs out there at your disposal. some are free, while others are quite expensive. Feel free to explore the previously mentioned options, and do not be afraid to venture out as your skills progress!


Additional Resources:



This site specializes in keeping makers up to date on the latest trends and technologies in the 3D printing field. no tonly do they cover 3D printing news, but they also have a very handy price compare tool that lists and compares nearly every 3D printer on the market. This is also a good resource for finding out about new and exciting filament options.


Video Library- https://www.3ders.org/videos.html

Price Compare- https://www.3ders.org/price-compare.html

3D Printing Basics-https://www.3ders.org/3d-printing-basics.html