How to 3D print

Can someone help me out with understanding how to 3Dprint? I have several car bodies i would like to print instead of resin casting. How do i get them scanned and put into the 3D printer do i need special software? Another words, I have a car body i want to print. What to I have to do or need?


Wow… This is a huge topic with a lot of different aspects.

I’d suggest that you start here:

Wildcat Modeling Special: Intro to 3D Printing for Modelers

There’s also a 3-part article in the AMPS Boresight that you might be able to find as back issues (if you join AMPS). Here’s a link to a copy of the seminar slides that the article was based on.

Seminar:: Introduction to 3D Printing for Scale Modelers

3D scanning and converting those scans into printable files is whole 'nother topic that actually has very little to do with 3D printing. However, having a basic understanding of 3D printing is important to knowing enough to start asking the right questions about 3D scanning.

Hi Joe,
First of all, KitMaker has a separate forum section for 3D printing under General Discussions so you may get more responses and tips if you post there: 3D Printing - KitMaker Network.
Looking at your questions, is it correct to think that you’re a beginner on 3D printing?
You are free to PM me for any tips, tricks, etc. if you’d like. I’ve started 3D printing and designing my own computer aided designs (CADs) about 3 months ago. Learned a lot of things from various people, videos, and trial and error.

As to answers to your questions in a nutshell:

  1. To scan properly - you’d need some hardware (HD camera or expensive scanner) and good software.
  2. Or you can create your own 3D CAD by using 2D images/photos and measurements. This of course requires a CAD program, a good computer, and some skills.
  3. Whatever CAD you create, then you must convert it to a format that is readable by the 3D printer. The most commonly used 3D model file is called STL.
  4. Lastly, of course, you need a good 3D printer. I am guessing you already have a printer?
    Two commonly used printers by consumers are:
    a. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) - uses filaments
    b. Stereolithography(SLA) - uses light sensitive resin

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,

Concur with the above posts.

Generally, making a 3D-printable model from a scan is a very complex and expensive process requiring CAD skills, specialized software and hardware. To scan a model then 3D-print it requires a lot of work, money, skill and the right equipment. The long equation:

Powerful computer + special software + special hardware (special scanner + scale model-friendly 3D printer + model-friendly resin + wash station + UV light booth for final curing) + CAD skills + time = 3D-printed model.

The short equation: money + machines + skills + time = model

CAD skills are needed because when a scanner scans a model, the scan file the scanner produces is typically loaded with errors. That raw scan is not normally 3D-printable. The errors must be corrected manually in CAD before the model can be successfully printed.

3D scanners are typically extraordinarily expensive. But some good news, many modern cell phones are capable of scanning with the right app installed. Cell phones that use lidar technology work best. But again, the file produced will not be immediately 3D-printable. The errors will all have to be corrected in CAD.

Other good news: sometimes people with access to proper scanning technology and with good CAD skills will do all of the hard work for you by creating 3D-printable computer files and selling those files to people who then print the models on their own 3D printers. A common file format used by many 3D-printers is called an *.stl file. You can find many *.stl files for sale on sites like Thingiverse. There are also companies and services that will scan an object and produce a printable file for you for a price.

To learn CAD, 3D-printing, and 3D scanning, there are loads of tutorials on Youtube. To find scanning services near you, Google is your friend.

Hope this helps.

I have two scanners on my I phone 12 pro, but they don’t have the resolution to scan small things that we model. 3D printers — and I don’t believe a filament machine will produce an object with fine enough details to work— must be from a drawing that has physical qualities to make a real object. When you scan something all the scanner ( and subsequently the computer) sees is a surface with no thickness. In our real world of 3D things, everything has thickness. Resin prints, while pretty tough, need to have large surface areas—such as a model car roof, hood, etc.—with a thickness of at least 0.031” (1mm+) otherwise they warp, fall apart or fail to print.

What this means is any scanned object must the be extensively edited to add that depth to every surface in the original scan. Even beautifully drawn objects from the SketchUp 3D warehouse are often unprintable because the artist wasn’t drawing with printing in mind.

Actually, running the actual resin printer is not the hard part. Drawing parts and translating them so they print successfully is a steep learning curve. High resolution 3D LCD matrix printers are the cheapest part of the equation. Scanners, and software can get expensive.

I am not trying to discourage you. But, don’t start into this tech with a car body. Start small. Resin printers can literally produce anything you tell them to do. Whether or not the part is correct, functional or capable of existing at all is entirely up to the drawing from which it is created and the skill and knowledge of setting up the print file.

There’s a ton of YouTube vids to watch to get you started. Begin there.


Thanks everyone. to answer a few questions, yes i am not even a beginner as i do not have a printer yet. i don’t think i have a phone that can scan, samsung galaxy s10e, and i have an average laptop.
If i find someone to make a CAD for me will it be ready to print? and can i use my run of the mill laptop if that’s the case?
Builder2010- when you say drawing i assume you mean on a program not pen to paper so parts of cars, like the A pillars would be too thin? i seen over on facebook someone selling nascar cot bodies and the A pillars look just as thin as styrene and military parts like gun barrels and radar antennas in 1\48 scale and rifles in 1\35 that are very thin. is there a trick to printing these or are they not resin?
I was trying to wrap my head around how the printer would print a car body without making it a solid object
Thanks for the offer james.I am a fan of nascar up to when they went to the cot. This all started out because i wanted to make a couple of bodies I noticed were scarce, like the 64 galaxy, for myself. Since current day nascar is dead to me i’ve been more and more interested in 60’s through 80’s era and there are many missing up to the 70’ resin casting skills are marginal so i thought 3Dprinting was a good idea. i guess that is that unless i can get the cad files made for me, don’t have the money to bank roll all the pre print equipment needed. I will check out those sites and forum though.


Concur with Builder2010.

Regarding finding someone to make a CAD file for you, yes, there are talented, experienced CAD designers with access to scanning technology who will produce a 3D-printer-ready CAD file for you. Generally, these are skilled, professional people who will require a professional fee. Their services aren’t typically cheap. If you want them to print the model for you, that will be an additional cost on top of the fee to research and design the model.

Also note that depending on what you want them to scan and produce, copyright laws may come into play. Reputable professional designers will stay away from anything protected by copyright and for good reason.

There are many skilled CAD “designers for hire” who specialize in designing objects for 3D-printing. Several can be reached through Shapeways 3D design request board. Link:

You can post there what you are trying to do and interested designers will respond and provide you a cost estimate. Engage them just like you would any other kind of skilled contractor like an electrician or plumber. Make sure they they provide you with some proof of skill and references, and negotiate a firm price before hiring. There are people who think they are skilled, professional CAD designers but really aren’t. Caveat emptor.

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Or you can DIY by learning to CAD. Hiring a professional designer is going to be very costly for sure.
Here are the free but powerful programs I’ve been learning and their tutorials on YouTube.

  1. MS 3D Builder: 3D Builder Tutorial - 01 - YouTube

  2. Blender: Blender 3.0 Beginner Tutorial - Part 1 - YouTube

  3. ZBrush Core Mini: ZBrush Core Mini Tutorial for Absolute Beginners - YouTube (This one is more suitable for figure sculpting and curved objects rather than consistent shapes such inanimate things.

PM me if you have any questions or pointers, Joe.

Kind regards,