Achievement Unlocked: I Wrote a Book about 3D Printing

123dThis website has been a wonderful outlet for me to share some of my favorite things, places I’ve been and more. It started out as simply a place to direct people to for more information on something that interested me. I never imagined that, as a result of my little posts here, that a book deal would come my way. That’s just what happened last year. Apparently if you write about something enough, people think you’re somewhat of an expert and so I was asked if I’d like to write a book about 3D printing.

I was asked what kind of book would I like to write. One of the most common questions (or rather series of questions) I get asked about 3D printing is, “Where do I start?”. Most people that see 3D printing for the first time get very excited about the possibilities of the technology. I see this every day when they look at me after seeing a print come out of the printer and I can see the gears in their heads spinning as they dream up stuff they would like to be able to print. But quite often, these are the same people that have zero experience or even exposure to 3D modelling, CAD and any of the tools we use to create 3D models for printing.

So over the course of a number of meetings and email exchanges, the concept for “3D Printing with Autodesk” was born. I’ve long recommended some of Autodesk’s entry level 123D applications and websites like TinkerCAD (which they bought while the book was in progress) as a great starting point for people new to 3D printing. We couldn’t cover everything so we split the book into two parts really. The first half is an introduction to the technology, some very accessible tools to get you started along with some very simple exercises that even kids can do using free software. There are a couple of chapters on applications for your iPad even. The second half of the book, which is mostly written by my co-author, Bill Fane, is meant for those folks that already have experience and exposure to the higher end CAD tools like Inventor and AutoCAD. Those chapters tackle the design nuances needed to design specifically for 3D printing at the intermediate to advanced level. I was very fortunate to have Bill involved. I like to tell people that Bill knows everything I don’t about CAD (which is a LOT) and has literally written the book(s) on AutoCAD. He also lives about 10 minutes away so collaborating on the book has been a breeze. Our technical editor is also local too. I’m told this is pretty rare with most co-authors living on opposite sides of the country or continent.

I managed to write an entire chapter about my favorite cactus, a ceramic piece of art I bought in Mexico about 20 years ago. Well, the chapter is about how to use your iPad to 3D scan an object at least. I’m glad my cactus model made it onto the front cover artwork too.

123D Catch Cactus

I thought it would be an incredible opportunity…and it has been. But it’s been a lot more work than I ever imagined, and one of the reasons things around here slowed down for a little while. I’ve had to learn a lot of new skills and processes, both for the purposes of writing about them in the book and also the inner workings of the publishing industry. After reading the final PDF layout last night, I’m very proud of all the work that went into it and I’ve had some great support from the team at Pearson/QUE publishing.

The book is currently scheduled to be released on May 22, 2014. You can pre-order it on or It will be available in book stores everywhere too which is still kind of freaking me out (in a good way). I believe it will be available as an ebook too but don’t have details on that yet. I’ll keep you posted about any launch events as we get closer to the day.

So, what’s next on that bucket list?


The book is now available on or, Chapters/Indigo, Barnes & Noble and other fine booksellers. It’s also available on iTunes as an eBook as well as the above listed sellers in their ebook stores.

One Comment

  1. Dave Zille says:

    Congrats, John. I assume the cactus on the cover is no coincidence ;-)

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