Desmos to 3D printout in 30 minutes.

Screenshot 2015-08-05 19.15.07 IMG_4902

 It can be done:

  • Students do not need to use special expensive software

  • Your school does not need to have a 3D printer.  

At TMC15 (Twitter Math Camp 2015) Heather Kohn shared her class activity where she had her students take their designs from and they 3D printed them.  I thought this was AWESOME!

But, she was at a STEM school where the students had training on CAD software that could create the special files and they had plenty of 3D printers.

I wanted to do the same but my school only has one 3D printer and the students have NO design experience.

Here are the steps I used to create a 3D object using my son’s Desmos design:

1) Create a design in Desmos.

2) Prepare the image in Desmos for a clean screenshot.

  • Remove the background grids.
    • Click on the wrench in the upper right corner.
    • Un-click the round grid, x-axis and y-axis.  If you don’t remove these, they will get converted to part of the 3D design.
  • Click on projector mode to make the design lines thicker.

Screenshot 2015-08-04 19.51.37 :

3) Create a .jpg or .png of the design by taking a screen shot.

  • Take a screen shot of just the design – not the whole screen.
    • On a Mac:  command/shift/4
    • The snipping tool on Windows:
    • Chromebook:
    • chromebook partial screenshot
  • You can actually use any 2D png or jpg design, not just ones from Desmos.  Black and white designs/drawings with thick lines work best.
  • Here is my screenshot – Ben logo.png

:Ben logo

4) Convert the screen shot to .SVG (scalable vector graphics) format.

  • I used
  • Choose Convert to .SVG under Image Converter. I did not change any of the optional settings.
  • Click on Convert file.

Screenshot 2015-08-05 10.44.54

5) Convert the .SVG to .STL(StereoLithography) file for 3D printing.

  • Import into 3D design software:
    • Go to the FREE 3D design website  This is a very basic 3D design program.  You may have to create an account.
    • Click on “Create a new design”.

Screenshot 2015-08-05 10.47.13


  • Import the .svg file (and modify if you have to)
    • Set the scale to 10% (right hand side) BEFORE importing.
      • If you let the scale be 100%, it will probably be too big for the workspace (you won’t see anything – it is very frustrating).
      • If you don’t like the size after importing, just hit Ctrl z to undo and import at a different scale.
    • Import the .svg file created in the previous step   Screenshot 2015-08-05 11.31.05
    • Modify the imported file (if needed).  If you want, you can make the imported design taller, wider, add elements, etc. I added a flat bottom to my design (the purple flat object -top right) because the elements were not connected and would have printed that way- see below for final drawing.  If all the lines in your design are connected, you do not have to do this.

Screenshot 2015-08-05 11.36.17

6) To Print Your Design 

  • Click on “Design” in the upper left hand corner Screenshot 2015-08-05 11.38.22

     If you have a 3D printer: 

  • Click on “Download for 3D Printing.”  This will save your design as a .stl file that can be used by your 3D printer.
  • You can also upload the .stl file to any 3D printer service.  The costs are surprisingly inexpensive.

     If you do not have a 3D printer:

  • Click on “Order a 3D Print.”
  • Choose one of the online 3D printer services.
    • Shapeways is a mainline service.
    • 3D Hubs is sort of like the UBER of 3D printing.

Screenshot 2015-08-05 11.42.36

Here is the end product for my son’s design.  

The whole design process took:

  • Desmos:  20 minutes.
  • .png to .svg conversion – 1 minute.
  • TinkerCad (I am NOT a TinkerCad expert) – 2 minutes for import and basic conversion, 15 minutes for the additional editing.
  • 3D printing – 8 minutes – it is a small design.



My son just got his license, so he is drilled a hole through his printed design and put it on his keychain.

All of this can be done with browsers and little CAD design knowledge and you don’t even need to have a 3D printer.

Questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?

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