Join Now

    Rob's Tinkercad Classroom: On your marks, get set...

    Rob Morrill
    Published on - July 29, 2021 by Rob Morrill


    Bookmarks make for a fun and functional 3D print to design, and they lend themselves to collaborations with libraries or reading events.


    • Students will enjoy applying creativity to make an item they can use every day.
    • Teachers will appreciate that this project, whether involving Codeblocks skills or the standard 3D editor, will let students design with negative space, and it will result in a file that's quick to print.

    Teaching overview:

    1. Decide whether your students will work in Codeblocks or the standard 3D editor.
    2. Practice different techniques with designs that aren't intended to be printed. Classmates can share tips.
    • If Codeblocks, then the videos and project links below will be useful resources to help students learn concepts with loops and variables. 
    • If standard Tinkercad, techniques like using stencil fonts and the duplicate and repeat feature (see below) are fun to experiment with.
    3. Create a design for printing. I suggest the base be about 150 x 40 x 1.5 mm.
    4. Optional: Reflect on or extend the project via presentation or web learning journal, OR use comment blocks in Codeblocks to explain thinking.

    The shapes in this bookmark use a variable to add an extra side as the columns move from right to left.         


    Writing names is fun--just be sure to add thin rectangles to prevent parts of letters from dropping out in Codeblocks, as in the A and R here. 


    Resources for bookmarks in Codeblocks

    This video walks through how to "tile" a rectangular pattern. See the same project with comment blocks that provide explanatory annotations.


    This video walks through how to rotate a circular pattern. See the same project with comment blocks that provide explanatory annotations.


    Here's a walkthrough on how to use the "Create New Object" feature to make a design with a series of rotated shapes, as in this "Six Suns" bookmark below. See the project with commented code.



    "Six Suns Bookmark" sample project.


    Screen Shot 2021-07-17 at 8.02.19 PM

    My YouTube Tinkercad playlist has helpful videos for those new to the Codeblocks environment.


    Resources for bookmarks in the standard 3D editor

    Screen Shot 2021-07-17 at 7.18.40 PM

    Students new to Tinkercad can use the standard 3D editor to make designs. A rectangle of about 150 x 40 x 1.5 mm should work well. 

    Pro Tip: If you're in the standard 3D editor, look under Shape Generators and find Script. The fonts Majorsnafu, Techniqu, and Stencil are are good for cutting words because they are stencil fonts--parts of letters won't go missing when printing or laser cutting them as holes. Screen Shot 2021-07-17 at 7.05.53 PM


    Screen Shot 2021-07-17 at 7.56.56 PM

    My YouTube Tinkercad playlist may have videos you find helpful for this project.


    This particular video is about making carpet designs, but the skills apply nicely to making bookmarks in the standard 3D editor. I discuss the computational thinking aspect of the techniques I look at as well. 



    The Duplicate and Repeat button (Control + D) is a powerful feature. Select a shape, click the button, then move, resize, or rotate the shape, and that same action will be repeated as many times as you click the button. Just be sure not to click off the shape, or else Tinkercad will "forget" the action you want done. 


    Draw or cut bookmarks with a vinyl cutter

    Want to fabricate bookmarks in 2D? Both the 3D Tinkercad editor and Codeblocks let you export designs as SVGs, so you can cut and/or draw them with a vinyl cutter, such as a Cricut or Silhouette. 

    PXL_20210724_191411789The top bookmark was cut and has a black backing while the bottom one used the pen attachment to draw the same design.


    Here's a quick look at how to export designs as scalable vector graphics, which lets you use a laser or paper cutter to draw or cut bookmarks.


    If you enjoyed this column or tried this with students, please share your feedback and creations! What would you like to see more of? What works well? Feel free to contact me on Twitter or my website with your questions, suggestions, or ideas for future content.


    Tags: Inspiration