Primitives and Prototyping

Objectives and Overview

One of the most important skills you will need for 3D design and 3D printing is to understand the value of prototyping. When prototyping for 3D design, we begin by using primitive shapes made of cardboard or paper which can easily be combined and translated to Tinkercad for your final design.

Lesson Objectives

  • Understand and identify primitive shapes.
  • Combine primitive shapes to create a complex design.
  • Demonstrate the connection between a physical model and a digital re-creation.
  • Understand the importance of prototyping a design.
  • Practice the design process by creating a rough prototype of an idea.
  • Demonstrate the ability to complete a design challenge while staying within constraints.

What is Prototyping?

Prototyping is the part of the design process when you plan your design and the thing you are going to make. This is an important step because you could come across a major design flaw or other discovery that would keep your final design from being the best it can be.

Prototyping is often low tech, with first attempts either being sketches or cardboard. Try to think of a project that you’ve prototyped before. It’s likely that you prototyped even if you don’t think of it like that. Sketching a draft of a design is a great example and a powerful starting point to begin receiving feedback before moving forward. Let’s look at some examples of prototyping.

Prototyping Examples

Prototyping with cardboard can produce high-quality output. Cardboard prototypes can capture a remarkable amount of detail!

Check out this video from Quirky, How to Make a Cardboard Prototype:

This video from SKM also shows how much detail can be included in cardboard prototypes. This timelapse video shows the process of creating a cardboard replica of an Apple laptop!

Here’s the video SKM: How to Make a Laptop With Cardboard: Apple Laptop:

Another great video highlighting the power of prototyping is this clip from the HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon:

One thing that all of those examples share is that the cardboard prototypes are high-quality and can stand-in for the intended final product. Think about these examples as you work with cardboard in this course!

Primitive Shapes

Primitives are the building blocks used to create 3D objects. They are basic geometric solids that can be used on their own, combined with other geometric solids, or modified to create new forms.

Primitive Challenge – Physical

In this challenge, you are going to be using cardboard or paper to create your own primitive shapes to use in the creation of a more complicated design.

  • Select 2 primitive shapes
    • Box, cylinder, sphere, roof, cone, wedge or pyramid
  • Create a creature using only these shapes!
    • Your creature can be: a robot, wild animal or fantastical being
  • Sketch your ideas!
  • Use physical primitives to prototype your design!
  • Share your project with your neighbors
    • What parts of your design do you want help with?
    • What good ideas did others have?

Primitive Challenge – Digital

  • In the next phase of this challenge, you will use Tinkercad to make a digital version of the physical prototype you just created using primitives.
    • Using your cardboard prototype as a model, locate the primitive shapes in Tinkercad needed to recreate your design.
    • Using the primitives available in Tinkercad – WITHOUT modifying them – create a digital design of your prototype using the same primitives used in your physical creation. NOTE: Your digital object should be no bigger than 80mm x 80mm x 80mm.
  • When your design is complete, share with a facilitator for feedback and approval to print.