3D Fabrication

3D Fabrication: Intro to CAD & 3D Printing

Prototyping and Fabrication


Computer Aided Design (CAD) has been a powerful tool used to create detailed prototypes in a 3D environment, before making your design a reality. This module will give you directed guidance through many of the tools available in Autodesk’s Fusion 360, a modern and accessible CAD (and CAM) program that allows you to quickly iterate on design ideas, test fit and motion, perform simulations, create assemblies, collaborate, and make photorealistic renderings and animations. We will then utilize its 3D printing workflow capabilities to learn more about FDM 3D printing and print your design. At the end of the module, students will be able to effectively use and explore Fusion 360 as a prototyping tool and be cleared to operate the S-lab’s suite of 3D printers.

About the Module

This module has been split into two 3-hour workshops. The lab manual is available for viewing and download to the right using your UCSC credentials; in it you will find the details of each day with instructions and important terminology, as well as the equipment list with links for purchase if you would like to attempt these tutorials at home. Each workshop has its own prelab that must be completed before attending the relevant session. You'll be directed to online content and resources from Autodesk Fusion 360 tutorials to 3D printer data sheets. A key component of the prelabs is the use of a lab notebook. Make sure to bring the notebook with any questions you may have on the relevant prelab content to each session; it is important that you understand these concepts. Each day of the module will cover a different topic and will contain a postlab that must be completed on your own time before attending the next session.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this introductory 3D prototyping module, students will have demonstrated familiarity and ability in:

  • Good laboratory Environment, Health and Safety practice
  • Autodesk Fusion 360 Model and Render Environment
  • Collaborative development in the cloud
  • Direct vs Parametric Design
  • Pre-processing slicing software
  • 3D printing and post-processing

After you've completed your session, you will be cleared to use S-Lab’s FDM printers.

Session 1: Computer Aided Design with Autodesk Fusion 360

  • Tour the Fusion 360 Virtual Environment
  • Create your prototype Solar-lantern body
  • Add features to your model

Session 2: Fundamentals of 3D Printing

  • Complete your design and export stereolithographic files
  • Troubleshoot difficulties commonly associated with 3D printing
  • Understand benefits/limitations of different 3D printers and filament


The module will take place in the S-Lab's main facility in the Thimann Labs room 343. Please sign in with the lab manager upon arrival.

Workshops are grouped into one session and available for sign up to the right. You may not sign up for individual workshops or split between multiple sessions. Plan to attend all workshops in your session.

Before attending your workshop, please review the manual and complete the online training. You are required to complete the EH&S Lab Safety Fundamentals through the UC Learning website before beginning any work in the lab.


Autodesk offers many hands-on tutorials to get familiarized with Fusion 360’s different work environments. Check some out, here.