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3D Kick-Off!

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  • 3D Kick-Off!

    Since I bear partial responsibility for suggesting the creation of this sub-forum, it's fitting punishment for me to lead off with the first post.

    Editor's Note to Bob: If you agree, could you add a second section for 3D Modeling, since 3D printing and modeling are as separate as skimmers and submarines, oil and water, and the like? If a 3D modeling section is created, please move this post there.

    With that said, I spent four hours today writing a course outline for a Hard Surface (as opposed to organic) 3D modeling course. It walks an absolute beginner through setting up the software, showing the user interface, introduces basic modeling tools and techniques, and follows up with a tutorial to create your very-own, 637-class Sturgeon 3D model suitable for 3D printing. I'll supply a link to a free, thirty-day, full-featured trial version.) It's a cradle-to-grave, soup-to-nuts, sort of tutorial.

    All you need is desire, some mental elbow grease, and access to a 3D printer.

    The modeling tutorial is designed to be application-agnostic as much as possible, so if you're more comfortable with some other 3D modeling program --like Blender, but have trouble getting started on a project, (not a CAD program, that's different) you should be able to adapt the lessons for your own use.

    Because it's a 30-day software trial, I have to have all the lessons completed before presenting them to allow everyone who takes up the challenge to get submerged in the software, build the submarine model and get the result converted to a printer or CAD-friendly STL format without having to rush.

    The ultimate goal is to learn something new and have fun! I'll provide a link to the (free) slicer I use daily, show you how to set it up, and get it printed.

    Having taught in-person 3D modeling, trying to write a course to teach the subject remotely requires a completely different methodology of instruction. For it to be effective, the instructor has to be able to adopt the mindset of a beginner, anticipate what questions will be asked, and provide enough of the "whys?" to tie the loose ends up and actually teach something useful.

    When I first bought this software, I opened up several online video tutorials that just plain didn't work. Whomever made them assumed I knew what I was doing, despite them being labeled as "beginner" tutorials. I quickly gave up in frustration and sulked for a week. After that, I considered taking an equal amount of cash that I had spent on the software and lighting it on fire, because quitting basically equated to the same thing.

    I sweated blood, persistently kept at it like a bad case of herpes, (unknowingly making loads of mistakes) and created something useful. Based on my demo, my boss approved a several thousand-dollar, six-day class in Florida. My biggest take-away from that experience was how much more I needed to learn if I wanted to be an animator. (3D modeling is just one skill set of the animation process.)

    While in Orlando, I took a tour of a formal 3D training school teaching the same software at Universal Studios and was really impressed with the staff and facility.

    In large part due to my Navy-honed talent for BS-ing, I got approved to fly out from CA. two days before the Fall class convened for six months of formal training. --The ultimate goal being to fill a company need for high-level animation for big-buck proposals.

    I had been interested in this particular software since it came out ten years before, so it was a win-win for all involved. At the time, I was living in a hotel for several years, commuting to CA from Seattle three weeks a month. It was an excellent way to stave off boredom as I learned as much as my brain could absorb using a small laptop screen. (I have two 32" monitors in front of me now to ward off blindness.) I probably spent ten hours a day at work, and six more working in the hotel room. I still do this pretty much on a daily basis at work and home, though not as intensely.

    That's my 3D story. Follow along and you can create yours, and maybe discover a relaxing new outlet.

    Be patient as I get the lessons written, reviewed, and polished. If I do a decent job, the extra effort expended will pay off in less frustration and more productivity for anyone wanting to try this out.


  • #2
    Excellent! I did force myself to learn enough to get my Columbia designed and printed but I could use a lot more help and I feel like I only scratched the surface. This is going to be good. Thank you for taking the time to do this.


    • #3
      Just wanted to drop in and see how things are going on this? I know that a particular area of interest for me is to know how to bring files into F360 to be able to manipulate and change them but that may be more complicated than I realize. Anyway just wanted to check on any progress.



      • #4
        As for my own contributions to this effort, I'm writing two series of modeling lessons - one using my standard 3D software and the other using Fusion 360, which I'm learning as I write them. This is not something one completes fast. I've taken a number of Fusion 360 video lessons, (which are not always based on the current version, so I have to figure out why I can't get the same results with my (new) version, take screenshots, format the pictures in Photoshop, import into PowerPoint, add text and arrows for clarity, save each slide as a picture, then add it into a Word document with the lesson text. This should give you an idea of the amount of effort involved. A 30-minute video can easily take 8-12 hours of labor to create a procedure that is as bulletproof as I can possibly make it.

        Again, being able to condense each lesson into ONE pdf file is what I'm waiting on if they're going to be posted on this site. (My preference.) So far, pdfs can't be saved here as far as I know. I have no desire to break these down into beaucoup threads (some lessons run twenty pages each!) Yeah, they're super-detailed, but I want them to offer as much insight into not so much what a tool does, but how to use it to obtain tangible results.

        Sort of like giving someone a crash-course on how to drive a nail using a hammer and how to use a saw to cut wood. Not terribly hard, but what if I gave you a hammer, box of nails, a saw, plenty of wood and said, "Build me a dog house." That's where many people freeze, and it's no different with 3D modeling. Knowing how to organize a project, (starting with boring stuff like file structuring) to using tools to visualize a goal without driving the reader to frustration with the end result of them quitting when something doesn't work and it isn't obvious why means it isn't enough to show how to do something, but to anticipate where it might go off the rails too. There's a very good reason so many people WANT to be able to model in 3D (or CAD) but never get far before bailing out, thinking it's too hard. (It isn't.) But if I've learned one thing teaching this subject, it's that everyone learns differently and I have to try to cater to that. With in-person learning, that's a challenge. Writing a procedure and giving someone the confidence to understand and succeed is something else entirely. I've modeled nearly every day for more than fifteen years, and I'm still learning new tricks! The learning truly never ends.

        Basically this effort will take months to complete, and the longer it takes, the better I hope it will turn out.

        Once we get this server storage issue addressed, maybe I can start putting out the first lessons with the between threads used for Q&A.



        • #5
          Thank you for the update. I know it is a huge undertaking and really appreciate the time and effort you are putting into it. I too hope the issue of posting the lessons can get resolved sufficiently to allow things to progress.

          Hey Bob, I know you are busy with the move. Is this something that is based on a simple setting in vbulletin?


          • #6
            While we wait, this link to a tutorial I posted awhile back offers a glimpse of the workflow of direct mesh making using a 3D modeling program: The Ship Model Forum • View topic - 3D Printed DSRV and Subsequent Makeover (

            It illustrates my point about breaking a procedure into a bunch of threads. My preference is to create one continuous lesson someone can print, mark up, and work with at their own pace.
            Last edited by CC Clarke; 10-09-2021, 09:00 PM.


            • #7
              PDF's are already allowed. I just checked the settings and the maximum file size was 20mb. I just upped it to 40mb.

              Had you already tried to upload a PDF and it failed?

              Also, as PDF's are document files, there is no preview for them. IE, you can't view a PDF document inside a post. You would need to click the link and download it, opening it in a PDF viewer.



              • #8
                Thanks Bob. I'll test this out tonight.



                • #9
                  Testing 123... I tried to save an 18MB PDF and this is what I got.

                  Click image for larger version

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                  • #10
                    I got up with Bob and he made an additional change.. Second test... Hurray! It worked that time. 0859368.pdf
                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by RCJetDude; 10-12-2021, 09:51 AM.


                    • #11
                      I’ve never seen 90% of these photographs. I wish the Ballard photos would get released.
                      There is no greater enemy than one’s own fears. It takes a brave man to face them.


                      • #12
                        I completed this Fusion 360 tutorial recently and as good as the video is, I like to create written documentation to address or clarify issues that often appear in videos. Writing a procedure also reinforces the lesson and allows me to easily locate and refer to a specific section later.

                        This is a good start for anyone wanting to learn some of the basics that go into creating a hollowed out submarine hull, so I've included it in this section. The video is available for free at All you have to do is sign up, create an account and you're good to go.



                        Create a 3D-Printable Easter Egg.pdf

                        Attached Files


                        • #13
                          Ok, I did this tutorial. Got a little tripped up at times but got it sorted out. When saving as an STL under Make it only gives STL (Binary) as a selection but if you right click on a body and select Save as Mesh I think it gives you the additional options of 3MF and STL (ASCII). I have been saving as STL (ASCII) which has been working fine in my Simplify3D slicer. Any idea what the differences are? This is a fairly recent change to Fusion 360.

                          Click image for larger version

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                          • #14
                            Congratulations on completing the tutorial Steve! As far as hiccups go, were the problems associated with the video, my written tutorial, or both? While I can't do anything about the video, I can revise the written portion to clarify anything that is is fuzzy. Any feedback to improve my work is always welcomed.

                            As for the STL ASCII files, is there a reason you prefer ASCII over Binary? The general rule of thumb is to never save STL in ASCII unless the slicer software is incompatible with the Binary format. Both save the same info (for the most part) but ASCII files are larger. OBJ is also an acceptable format in many slicers. OBJ and STL formats save the polygons as triangles. When exporting from SolidWorks, I've had the best luck with ASCII, but again, the file sizes can be cumbersome --depending on the object. Exporting STLs in Binary out of Fusion works well for me.

                            Fusion 360 received a major facelift recently and a lot of the tutorials I've written from watching videos use the older version of Fusion, which can get confusing. Lars Christensen puts out some good demos and I've written up about a dozen of them, which is very tedious and time-consuming, (averaging about 8 hours for a thirty-minute video) but he presents the material in a straight-forward way.

                            You are correct - to export in STL / ASCII one must use the Save Mesh function. The attached Fusion 360 document gives an explanation.

                            Exporting Files From Fusion 360.pdf


                            PS: Your Thresher paint job came out really nice!


                            • #15
                              Ha! I didn't even watch the videos. I went solely by the written instructions. Watching the videos now... I had to make several attempts at Lesson 5 about step 3 and projecting the flange lines to the top surface of the bottom half of the egg. I eventually got it and understand why it was done that way so I learned something new. As for saving as STL (ASCII) when the Fusion update came through that added that I didn't know which one to use so I picked ASCII. I will start using Binary going forward.