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How to use 3D Builder on Windows 10

3D Builder is an app that comes baked in when you install Windows 10. While it's a bit innocuous, if you have even a passing interest in 3D printing, then it is well worth your time to investigate. 3D Builder lets you build your own custom prints for 3D printing, without having to know how a CAD program works in the progress. It makes creating new files easy enough that just about anybody can do it, and even allows you to order your print online if you don't have access to a 3D printer at home.

What is 3D Builder?

3D Builder lets you customize your 3D prints

3D Builder is an app that allows you to build or import files to be used in 3D printing. Previously, to create a file for 3D printing you would need to have some serious CAD know how. 3D Builder removes that from the equation. You can import images you find online, or build the print from within the app using the various tools made available to you.

We really can't overstate how awesome this is. This makes 3D printing far more accessible to everyone, and allows you to easily customize any print. You also get access to a catalog of prints, all of which can be saved and printed directly or edited and adjusted as you see fit. This includes duplicating the number of items in a print, slicing it, embossing words and plenty more. Microsoft has done a stellar job of making sure that 3D Builder is easy to use, and that just about anyone can use it without much hassle.

Using 3D Builder

create a new model in 3D Build

When 3D Builder opens up you'll see a catalog of prints you can use and customize on the right side of the screen, and a small list of options on the left side of the screen. From here you get started with adjusting an existing print, or creating a brand new one of your own. It's here that you can load an image saved onto your computer as well.

By selecting an existing print, loading a saved image, or clicking on new scene, you'll be taken into a screen where you can adjust your print. A 3D rendering of the print. At the top of the screen is a menu bar that has the different ways you can customize your print. Insert, allows you to insert further items into your print. Object, allows you to fine tune the objects in your scene or duplicate them. Edit, will open up options to add words to the print, or split it in half.

Much like using a program like Photoshop there is just a ton to do within this program. You can slowly tweak and adjust a single print until it's perfect, or try to build something from scratch. Likewise, while it is a fairly simple program to learn, it's much more difficult to master. There are enough options to keep you occupied for quite a while even if you decide not to print anything.

Print your model

If you do want your model printed, then there are two options available. If you have access to a 3D printer, then things are very simple. Take the file that you want to 3D print, and click save as from the overflow menu on the upper left side of the screen. From there you'll want to save your files in an .stl or .obj file. From there you just need to open it in your 3D printing software and you're ready to print.

Your other option is to pay for a print of your model. This option is built right into 3D Builder, all you have to do is click the icon on the upper right of the screen. This will open a series of dialog boxes which will direct you to a 3D printing company. If you don't have access to your own 3D printer, this may end up being your best option.

Jen is a contributing writer for WindowsCentral. She's an avid gamer, especially when she gets to kill zombies, craft things, or use a bow. She can often be heard yelling about her chainsaw while playing Gears of War 4. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • I'll have to give this a try, but I'll likely use Inventor if I want to make anything serious. Not everyone has access to that kind of software, so this is a great add by MS. Especially to link you up with companies that will print it off. They NEED to advertise this feature. But I'm sure like WM, they'll just let it languish and it will never see it's full potential.... I hope I'm wrong.
  • They actually *did* advertise this feature a lot when they first released Windows 10. I do think, though, that Paint 3D in the next major release may spark more interest in 3D Builder when people want to go that extra step beyond what Paint can do itself or to create a more complex custom object for use in Paint 3D (or anything else).
  • I agree with this, and yes, I think Paint 3D will introduce the masses to 3D modeling. I do have a 3D printer, and I use SolidWorks (and other programs depending on the need for the model), but not everyone can afford it (I get it free as a student, for now), and not everyone needs that kind of power or complexity. For those people, there is 3D Builder and will soon be Paint 3D.
  • I am usually artistic - but i think the best way to introduce a new tool is to not just provide objects already made. It would be nice to have tutorial videos to guide you through building a specific object (like a sword) for example and walk you through the decision making process of why we'd choose to use one shape over the other when creating specific sections.   I think that once people have a use case and understanding of certain principles the tools become less intimidating and users are energized into exploring what they can create.
  • Soo cool
  • This app is way to simple. Anyone that owns a 3D printer will (know how to) use something more complex and capable to design. There are a lot of free CAD tools out there that are not that hard to learn but they offer way batter work / design flow.
    The rest of the people wont even care about 3D printing, especially if they dont own a 3D printer.
  • I think the upshot to this is that it makes it available to anyone, and may introduce a future designer/engineer/etc to 3D design. I see kids getting more use out of it than adults. And the fact that they actually have a service that links you up to a 3D print company is the best thing. I can't wait until my son and daughter are old enough to design something, then see the excitement in their eyes when the part they designed shows up on the doorstep. It's kind of a new take on building things in woodshop! Of course, my kids WILL be doing those true hands-on things as well. That's every bit as important, IMO, but this is just an additional tool. And this would be good for kids (and adults) that don't have access to workshops. I hope it takes off, if MS advertises it! I'm sure they get a cut from every print that gets made, so it would be in their interest to do so.
  • Can't Kinect be used to scan objects in 3D and import them into this program?
  • I doubt they'll build an app using Kinect (you'd need a separate turntable), but they did showcase a phone app that you could walk around something and scan. I think they used a Lumia 950, can't remember for sure.
  • Ye, the Kinect v2. The app is called 3D Scan and is also made by Microsoft. You can download it here:
  • See, even I'm wrong sometimes! Okay...mostly
  • thanks for the tip cory....great for my business!