How to start a 3d project

I’m interested in making some 1:50 scale model parts with a 3d printer. I have no idea how to start or how to create a 3d file. Attached is photos and drawings of 1 of the projects i want to make.20190329_092622 20190329_092835

Hi Henry.

Tinkercad is 3D design tool that make sit easy to start learning. If your components can be constructed from basic shapes like boxes and cylinders you can go a long way.

If they have intricate curves Tinkercad probably won’t be suitable. Also, Tinkercad does not annotate its drawings so you can’t record the dimensions with the model which could be important to you. This is the “brick wall” I’ve come to with Tinkercad. Fusion360 might be more suitable but I haven’t used it.


Thanks John

Hi John. I’m trying to create a 1:50 scale trailer chassis. This made of I beam and C channel steel beams. The chassis also steps down to a larger section. I have attached some photo’s. 1- Ringfeeder. This is another project i want to do. But have no idea how. ![ringfeder_pic|690x363]
2- This is a plan of what i want to build.

The next 3 photos i did some playing with photos. I want to make these in flat panel. 2 sides plus the ends, top and floor. Again i have no idea how. The sides are textured not smooth. Any ideas. Thanks for any help
A%20Trailer%20super%20drop|690x490 B%20Trailer%20super%20drop


Looks fascinating. Quite alot of components.

If you’ve never done any 3d design Tinkercad is a good start, even if you move onto a better engineering tool. Just go to and create a user account and start designing. It’s free. You will need to learn the limitations of 3d printing.

Looks like you’ve got dimensioned drawings. You should look into Fusion 360. It’s a commercial product but free if you’re a student.

Hi Henry,

You need to learn to walk before you can run, and this project is very ambitious. As a seasoned 3D modeler, I would expect this to take many hours. I suggest that you try out Tinkercad like John suggested, and learn how to make some simple models.

I like to use Fusion360, but its a bit harder for a beginner to get their head around. Luckily there are many videos and tutorials that walk you through it!

Thanks Stephen.
Might just make a master and take a rubber mould and cast it resin like i use to yrs ago. I don’t have much patience these days and would probably end up smashing the computer.

Thanks John.

Henry, I’m sure it wasn’t Stephen’s intention to put you off trying 3D printing. I think it is an ambitious project because of the number of components involved. You wouldn’t be bound up in design matters as that’s all been done on the life size machine. The model would work the same as the machine.

I’d expect many parts would not be hard to 3D design & print. For instance the large lifting arms don’t look complicated. I’d like to see how you would link parts together so they move like the life size machine.

I reckon it’s one of the more interesting projects I’ve seen. Do you have access to a 3D printer?


Hi John.
I would make a pin out of solid plastic tube and pin it like the real crane. My biggest problem is i know nothing about 3d modelling software. I don’t have access to a 3D printer. I hope to start making it soon. I have plenty of photos of it and can take more if needed. I’m just going to make it from plastic sheet. I can cut all the different shapes and assemble it. I’ll then take a rubber mould of it and cast all the parts in resin. It’s how we did it 20yrs ago. It won’t be produced for others to use as i just found out another company is making a similar item in diecast. I’ll make it for my own use.

Hi Henry.
3D printing would produce the resin parts straight from software without the need for intermediate manufacturing processes. If it’s not quite right you modify the design and reprint. This is the iteration process familiar to 3D print practitioners.

I like this project. It has practical applications.

Lots of council libraries have set up maker spaces with 3D printers. that’s what I use.

Hi John.
The thing is i can make it from plastic, mould it and cast it in resin long before i can figure out how to use the 3d modelling software. I tried that tinkercad thing. It would never make the item I’m trying to build. I have downloaded now i think about 7 free 3d modelling software and tried to create something. Well the end result of that was a hammer to the laptop. I’ve given up on the idea of 3d anything now. Thanks for the tips. Unfortunately I’m just a dumb truck driver and modern technology and i do not work well together.

Hi John.
Today i found a free program called designspark mechanic. I have managed to design the arms for the cranes. Still trying to work out how to put a hole for the connector pins and cutouts to locate the hydraulic rams.

I have almost completed a 1:50 scale petrol bowser. Again i have yet to put cutouts for the hoses and the nozzle.

Hey fellas,

Just wanted to pop back in and say that you should absolutely get into 3D modeling and anyone can learn it! Just start out with simple designs and work your way up to the complex ones and learn the benefits and limitations along the way :slight_smile:

Henry. Thanks for telling us about Design Spark. I looked at their demos & it’s far more advanced than Tinkercad. I want to use it. Looks like it gives you access to all internal dimensions which Tinkercad does not do.

Design Spark can produce an .stl file of your model & that’s what you use for 3D printing.

I saw they have a demo video on cutouts.