Maker 101: What’s the point of 3D Modeling something I’m making by hand? (and an UPDATE)

If you’re making something by hand, what’s the point of 3D Modeling it?

You don’t need the design for a CNC Machine of any sort… Is it worth learning to 3D Model?

… well here’s the case for learning 3D Modeling, even if you have no intention of ever using a digital tool in your life.

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Today’s Maker 101 is going to be about 3D Modeling. Specifically, why it’s a thing. 

More specifically what’s the point of 3D Modeling a project that is going to be made by hand, and not with CNC equipment? It seems kind of pointless.

The answer is multifaceted, but mainly it’s for planning purposes. 

You may have heard the adage “measure twice, cut once”? Well, with 3D modeling, you can make sure your measurements are consistent without even having to purchase any material or hardware!

3D modeling allows you to verify and validate your designs from two aspects: visual, and dimensional. 

“This visual aspect” is a really fancy way to say making sure it’s going to look good. From drawings alone it can be a bit difficult to get a full grasp of what exactly a finished piece is going to look like. 

You may be really bad at drawing,  you may not capture every view, you may exaggerate or misconstrue dimensions, and as a result, you may not get an accurate picture of what the final product would look like.

And then you’ll spend all this time making something that is *gasp* aesthetically un-pleasing. 

But hey, even if you are an amazing drawer… taking the time to invest in a fully accurate, to-scale, drawing can be painstaking and tedious.  If you do try and invest your time in an accurate, to-scale drawing, it can be very painstaking and tedious in comparison to producing the same finished product using 3D software where you can change appearances, visibility, orientation and so many more details without much thought.

Figuring out dimensions, counting out hardware, and making sure joints and tolerances will work out is pretty crucial, but again, kind of painstaking by hand. 

With 3D modeling, you can easily test for interferences, incorporate hardware, find range of motion, and dimension your parts with software. 

It is much more cost and time efficient to do this before you have purchased any material, so you can edit the design as necessary if there are any issues with how everything is going to fit together. 

Another benefit of this is that many 3D modeling softwares let you export your models to get the exact amount of material you need for your project. It just makes things easier. 

Also, there are also lots of supplementary softwares built into 3D modeling that can help with your purposes, adding text, images and detailing can show what your final project would look like with a high degree of detail. 

And lastly,, if you want to save your design, dimensions, notes for another time, or share them with another maker or give a preview to a client, it is much easier to do so with a 3D model, rather than giving someone your hand drawings and some pictures of a final product. There’s a lot less room for misinterpretation. 

All in all it is a good idea to do some 3D modeling for your project, even if you are making it by hand. It will save you a lot of headache later. 

I think we’ve made a pretty clear case.

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