Successful 3D printing begins with learning how to create 3D designs to print. In this WTFFF?! episode brought to you live from the SoCal MakerCon show floor, Tom and Tracy Hazzard interview Joe Micallef about how he got into the 3D Printing industry and decided to write his book, Beginning Design for 3D Printing. Joe’s book introduces beginners to the world of 3D model creation and design with step-by-step tutorials for free online software to help new users get started and immersed in the world of 3D printing. The discussion expands to the critical need for designers and CAD experts in the growing 3D economy. Know more about how his “3D printing for beginners” strategy can help you start your own 3D print hobby or business.
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3D Printing For Beginners With Author Joe Micallef
Live from the SoCal MakerCon show floor, author Joe Micallef details how he started in the 3D print industry and began to write his book, “Beginning Design for 3D Printing.” Beginners are introduced to 3D model design and creation with easy to follow tutorials for many free CAD software programs. There is a critical need for CAD designers and 3D print experts in the growing 3DP economy.
We’re here at SoCal MakerCon with Joe Micallef, who’s an author of a book about design for 3D printing. Thank you for joining us.
No problem. You’re welcome.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got interested in 3D printing and why you wrote the book.
I started in animation. That’s my background. I have an animation degree from USC. Based on that, a lot of the things we do in animation, in terms of modeling, it lends itself to 3D printing. Anybody who has a CG animation background already has the expertise in creating all sorts of different models and that’s how it began. I did a lot of work in the ZBrush. I have my work on my LinkedIn profile. I put renders on my ZBrush models. Bob Tisch from 3D Printer World saw my work and he brought me on board to help him launch 3D Printer World, which was one of the first 3D printing trade shows that have happened here. That’s how I got my start. That was years ago.
We were at 3D Printer World and saw the whole ZBrush competition and everything. We probably met you there and didn’t realize it.
That’s how the ZBrush competition got started. When Bob saw my profile LinkedIn, he was here trying to scout things out and he took me out to dinner and I said, “You’ve got to get ZBrush on board. You’ve got to get ZBrush involved in this.” That’s how that came about. ZBrush came on board and it was Paul Gaboury from ZBrush. He started doing this live sculpting competition because everything works perfectly for that.
It was quite something to watch all those people, out of nothing in a short period of time, create some detailed 3D models. It’s quite amazing.
ZBrush is one of the best tools out there, in my opinion, because it is instantaneous. You start from nothing and it grows so your imagination blossoms. In Seattle, we had a 3D printer at the show. They are printing on a ZCorp printer and creating those prints right when the competition ended at the show. They did that in Burbank as well, but that 3D printer with off sight. In Seattle, you could see them sculpt and it would go straight to the 3D printer.
Your book is called Beginning Design for 3D Printing, which is what we highly recommend. People start with the design part of it rather than start with the printer, which we hear so often. If you start with a printer, you’re going to be frustrated after a while with only a few good models out there to print yourself. Talk about how it was to go about organizing that because thinking about the design process is complicated. You’re teaching design, CAD, everything all at once. How did you organize that?
It was a complete purge of information because I used all these tools. It was easy for me to write, but the whole idea is founded on the fact that you don’t need a 3D printer to start. Where’s the best way to begin? I wrote the book using a pathway type of methodology where we begin with the easiest, most accessible tools and I go down that path to more slightly more advanced tools, but if you begin with Tinkercad, that’s where it begins. You start with Tinkercad. The idea is, even if you don’t have your own computer at home, go to the local library and get a Tinkercad account and start playing. There’s no need to have a 3D printer. Tinkercad is a great introduction to the world of 3D. You learn how to navigate in 3D space. You learn what the coordinates are, X, Y, Z, a grid, and it’s grabbing shapes. It’s easy for people to start like that. We go down that pathway, it gets more advanced but it’s still simple enough where anybody who has absolutely no 3D design experience can get the necessary skills by going through the book. That’s the whole idea.
It’s critical because it’s hard for people to think about 3D printing where you can make anything. If you can make anything, what are you going to make? Their minds are paralyzed with, “I don’t know what to make. I can make anything.” You need to focus and figure out what you want to make and having the ability to make it is critical. I’m fascinated to read your book. I haven’t read it yet, but we will read it and we will do a blog post on it and share it with our audience. This is one of the most critical missing pieces in this whole industry. Many companies making machines, many companies making software, what are they going to make? We need more content providers. We better teach them how to design.
In order for the industry to grow, you need to grow that audience of designers. It all begins with that designer. The idea is similar when desktop publishing started to come about. You had the technology, but without that desire to start publishing your own materials and do your own work and let’s say Photoshop, that’s where the imagination pushed forward all the technology. The technology is coming first, but we have to start to push those imaginations first and then the technology is there for them. Without that imagination growing, it’s going to be challenging for all of these 3D printer companies, manufacturers to sell their products.
Tell us where people can find your book.
It’s out there mainstream. It’s not a self-published book.
This is full color. This is one of the few full-color books that Apress has published.
That’s good. You need that to help. As we review the book, is it alright with you if we can have a select few images from the book as examples?
That would help a lot of people understand and they can see why they may want to go out and get the book.
The whole process was me going through step-by-step, figuring out what the designs would be, and then printing those designs myself. You see everything from the beginning all the way to the final thing being held in my hand go through that whole journey.
We have a six-year-old daughter who is into learning this. We started her on Tinkercad. She’s early on, but she’s into it and going and grabbing those basic shapes and building things out of that. I’d be curious to read in your book how you take someone through that, but then how you step them up to the next and the next thing because we’re going to need to do that.
Sooner rather than later for her taste. She is more anxious to keep going. They don’t want to stop once you got bitten by the bug. “My dad can 3D print that.” That’s her favorite line.
You start with Tinkercad and then it goes to 123D Design and then it goes into organic modeling. We talk about sculptures. Sculptures are the free equivalent of ZBrush. Everything is free downloadable software. The whole idea is you don’t have to go out and buy the software. Learn the free tools and then find the resources to get it 3D printed. If you have a 3D printer, then great, but go through the software, there are ways to go through the software.
It’s exciting to meet you and to meet someone here at the show who’s working on the design side of it because not a lot of people here are doing that. It’s refreshing. Our audience will be interested in this. I’m excited. What’s next for you, Joe?
I have two kids myself. I have a seven-year-old and a three-year-old. It’s challenging to write a book and have kids. You’ve got to find ways to sneak out and write the book. I wrote the book and I’m working at a production studio in Torrance for the automotive industry.
They’re doing a lot of design in 3D printing work.
A lot of design in 3D printing but a lot of work in animation as well, a full-scale production studio. It’s black magic cameras. We have everything there. We’re going to do live feeds, but it’s about taking ideas like this. The idea behind 3D printing is slightly complex to understand. If you try to visualize it, it’s hard for the first time. How do you take somebody that’s complex like that and simplifying it to make it digestible for this general public?
It’s important. That’s part of why there’s such a misconception or a lack of understanding about what 3D printing can do because you get this, “That’s all plastic things.” I say, “How many plastic things do you buy every day?” The world is plastic. It’s too broad to be thinking that way. If you can start to break it down and have great demonstrated content, but also demonstrated methods on which you go about doing it, it’s a lot more digestible.
The idea is you don’t have to be an engineer who knows CAD. People see the machine and they think they have to have those engineering skills and immediately they’re intimidated by it. It’s all about having the ability to conceptualize and to imagine something. Whatever that idea is, imagine, and bring it into reality. The book goes through a wide variety of tools. If you don’t feel comfortable with the engineering tools, there’s the more artistic base organic tools or vice versa.
I have to tell you this joke because it’s a little bit unusual. I was in the ladies’ room here and a woman had two of your books. She’s trying to wash her hands and she couldn’t quite do it. I offered to hold the books for her. I saw it and I said to her, “Are you thinking about starting 3D printing?” Her friend was with her and she started telling me about how excited she was about 3D printing. I said, “Do you have any design skills already?” “No.” She was completely excited about it and decided about getting started. The other woman is excited and is texting her son that he needs to become an industrial designer because he’s eighteen and trying to figure out where to go to school. She’s sending him off to become an industrial designer. You converted two people at the show already.
One of the things that are going on in manufacturing is many manufacturers are worried that they can’t fulfill current jobs in manufacturing.
That’s what we keep saying. The new economy is the design economy.
If they have those design skills, if they start connecting with the young people who are interested in Minecraft and Tinkercad, they shouldn’t have a problem filling job. It’s a matter of understanding. There’s a connection you have to look at.
Not only that, for young people considering future careers and where there are going to be a lot of job opportunities, the creation of content to be 3D printed for whatever application, business, consumer, but there’s also going to be a big need and a high demand. In terms of job security, it’s undervalued and not quite understood how much that’s going to be needed. Designers, creators of this are going to be in high demand.
I think so. The idea is that the one resource that’s unlimited is your imagination. The moment that you think that your imagination is limited, you need to have a bigger imagination. You can imagine beyond that.
That’s why I’m excited about the next generation because while we feel creative and it’s our day job to do that, but the next generation doesn’t have all the preconceived notions of how the old manufacturing techniques worked. They’re going to come in green on 3D printing, and all of a sudden, they’re going to have new forms and new shapes that are going to have new functions. New wild ideas that we could never conceive because we have too big a paradigm, even though we are open-minded.
We’re burdened by a lot of preconceived notions that go with the industrial age. They don’t have that.
What a great time. It’s exciting. I hope all of our readers are interested and as excited as we are. That’s why we’re doing this.
This is great.
Thank you so much.
I appreciate it.
Nice to meet you.
It’s great to meet you. We look forward to reading your book.
I’m glad to be here. It’s cool that you guys are doing this. This is great. Thank you.
- Joe Micallef – LinkedIn
- Beginning Design for 3D Printing – Amazon
- Barnes & Noble – Beginning Design for 3D Printing
- Apress – Beginning Design for 3D Printing
- 3D Startpoint Facebook
- 3D Startpoint LinkedIn
- Hazz Design Twitter
- 3D Startpoint YouTube