Project 3: Design + Rapid Prototyping


  • Design a product using traditional prototyping methods
  • Convert prototype to a 3D printable STL file

Grade Levels

  • Can be adjusted for youth (4 - 10), preteens (11-15), and teens (16-19) or skill level


Students will be expected to... 

  • Safely create a prototype using cardboard and found materials
  • Test and improve their design(s)
  • Use TinkerCAD to create a 3D printable version of their prototype
  • Export their design(s) as a printable STL file(s)
  • Print their prototype
  • Test and complete any modifications to their STL file
  • Share their file with others (Thingiverse or YouMagine)


The purpose of this exercise is for students to see the connection between new and existing methods of rapid prototyping. In a world of 3D printers and laser cutters it is still important to grab available materials and to use the iterative design process to create a functional design. Creating real prototypes first will also help students to understand the 3D CAD and printing processes.


  • Cardboard
  • Scissors, tape, and other craft supplies as needed
  • TinkerCAD/PC
  • 3D Printer (Any make or model)
  • 1-2 kg PLA or ABS Filament - Any Colour (Most printers will use PLA)
  • 3M Blue Painters' Tape
  • Utility Knife
  • Unscented Hairspray (Extra Hold)

Procedure / Steps to Completion

  • Model
    • Identify the problem you want to solve (ex. Make my iPhone speakers louder)
    • Measure or find the dimensions of an iPhone online
    • Using cardboard, or found materials, create a quick prototype
    • In this design cups and a paper tube are used to amplify the phone's speakers
    • Test your design and identify areas you need to fix
    • Repeat these steps until the prototype functions
Image courtesy of  Mrs. Leigh Borden  on Twitter

Image courtesy of Mrs. Leigh Borden on Twitter

  • Render in 3D
    • Launch TinkerCAD
    • Create a Cylinder (Use the dimensions of a paper tube; 11.2cm x 4cm) and rotate it to be horizontal
    • Copy and paste this cylinder
    • Change of the second cylinder's dimensions to me 2mm smaller than the original
    • Change this object to a hole
    • Align this new hole cylinder to be centered within the original tube
    • When grouped this will create a hole
    • I created my cups by using a Cube-hole to cut the bottom off of a Cone (This created the Cup)
    • Use the dimensions of a paper cup to size your cup
    • Copy and Paste your new cup
    • Using your knowledge of holes create the iPhone hole using the dimensions of an iPhone and a Cylinder Hole

Export and Print

  • Once you have made your model export a printable STL file
  • Note: To export this model I had to play around with the model and export 3 times to make the 3 parts
  • The parts have to have holes to allow the sound through and the parts need to fit together
  • The parts also need to fit on your printer bed (ex. 150mm x 150mm x 150mm)




Note: It is important to know what your problem is first before you start designing solutions.