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3D Printing: How to Design Objects for 3D Printers

How to Design Objects

To create a design that can be printed on the 3D printer at Alkek Library, you will need to use a 3D drafting software that can produce .stl.obj, or .thing files.

This page lists some library resources that will help you get started with designing 3D objects to be printed. You will also find information about a few programs that are commonly used for creating this type of file.

Design Software


Design and shape the world around you with the powerful, connected design tools in AutoCAD software. Create stunning 3D designs, speed documentation, and connect with the cloud to collaborate on designs and access them from your mobile device.

AutoCAD provides a free 3-year license to students, so you can download this software from the Autodesk website: Free download for students. Regular 1-year subscriptions are $1,680.00.

AutoDesk 123D 

These free software applications allow you to design 3D models in a variety of ways. 123D Design is a standard 3D design tool for Windows, Mac, and iPad. 123D Catch allows you to create 3D scans of an object by taking photos of it with your phone.


Tinkercad is an easy, browser-based 3D design and modeling tool.