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"I'm excited to see FabLab ModelMaker working with the Silhoutte

and the CraftROBO fabricators" P.S.



3D Shapes


Shapes are everywhere in the real world, many structures both natural and man-made comprise sets of 3D shapes. Take a look around and recognise how many cuboids, spheres, pyramids, prisms there are in the objects you see, touch and use everyday.


On close inspection you might notice that your computer is made up of different sized cuboids and prisms. How about the table or chair you are sitting on, the door to the room, the filing cabinet? Geometry is all around us in nature and in all the things we make and use.


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Download FabLab ModelMaker for free

and try it on your PC or Mac.

"Model Maker is awesome, I really

like the way that you can combine different shapes.  Nice work!


3D Shapes Made in FabLab ModelMaker


These images were made in FabLab ModelMaker using cuboids, cylinders, cones, a pyramid, prisms, sphere and a wedge shape. The 3D shapes can all be manipulated by scaling and rotating and shapes can be joined together to make more complex models. All the shapes can be printed and sent to the Silhouette fabricator to trimmed prior to manufacture. FabLab ModelMaker can also work alongside the Fab@School 3D printer to manfacture solid models out of silicone, plaster, plastic and even cheese or chocolate!


Watch FabLab ModelMaker printing a 3D Rotunda using the Fab@School



Names of 3D Shapes


These shapes are the building blocks for designing 3D models on the computer. Draw shapes using the mouse in one simple operation, or drag them on to the screen from a library of premade shapes. All the 3D shapes can be edited by scaling and stretching, moving and rotating and adding colours or images to individual faces.








Frustum of Cone


Regular Prism



Irregular Prism





Solid of Rotation


Transition Piece





Frustum of Pyramid



Wedge Shape

















A Cube Shape


While tabs easy 3D modeling software has a wide range of 3D shapes it is amazing what one can learn from a just one 3D cube. Here is a simple but fascinating exercise that will get a class of children thinking beyond what they see, as they start to appreciate that there is much more to this 3D cube than meets the eye.

Use a real 3D model of a cube, hold it up in front of class, examine it, pass it around and brainstorm. There are so many concepts involved in a cube, and you can probably learn more from taking time to examine this simple cube shape than from designing any more complex 3D shapes on the computer.

Brainstorm discussion: What is a cube? Encourage the children to think of some of the following parameters:  Corners Points : Dimensions : Area : Length : Diagonals : Lines : Faces : Height : Polygon : Width : Sides : Volume Vertices : Depth : Right angles : Symmetry : Perimeter : NETS : Coordinates : Weight : Material :

Discuss this simple experiment: Compare a cube 5cm high to a cone with 5cm height, if both these 3D shapes were filled with rice which one will be the heaviest?  Make a cube with 2cm sides, and another with 4cm sides, discuss the relative volume of each cube. Just because the dimensions of one cube are twice that of the other cube doesn’t necessarily mean that it has twice the volume!


So Many Skills from One Cube!


A 3D design project does not have to be complicated and using lots of 3D shapes to be of value! Here is a simple idea for a project using just one 3D shape, a cube, and a project that is achievable by all children in a class. They will come together to plan the design, form a team, co-operate and communicate and work with one another. And in the design process they’ll call on a variety of skills: language, thinking skills, social skills, hand and eye co-ordination, artistic skills, ICT and mathematical skills.

The project is to design a cube to use as a tissue holder to take home for mum. How big is it going to be, and what colour? How many tissues will it hold, how many do we want it to hold? Who is going to design it, what's it going to be made from? and who will print the net of the shape, or cut it, glue and fold it? What about a hole to put the tissues in? How big? On the side or the front or on top of the cube? ... and so on.

The object of such a project is not to produce a complex and clever model with lots of 3D shapes but to guide children through the experience of thinking, discussing, drawing, planning, evaluating, changing and making, and having something to show for their effort; so many skills from one cube!


3D Shape Variants


The following shape variations can be drawn for the regular prism, pyramid and frustum of a pyramid shape and the transition piece. The irregular prism can be drawn to create infinite number of different prism shapes.


Regular Prism


Triangular Prism

Rectangular Prism

Pentagonal Prism

Hexagonal Prism

Heptagonal Prism

Octagonal Prism

Nonagonal Prism

Decagonal Prism

Undecagonal Prism

Dodecagonal Prism




Dodecagonal Prism




Irregular Prism


The user can define any irregular prism shape by drawing the cross-section with the mouse and then setting the length of the shape.


A stair case for example, a cross, a simple motor car shape etc. When making holes in an irregular prism one can make all the letters of the alphabet for example. 



Irregular prism with a hole





Triangular Pyramid

Rectangular Pyramid

Pentagonal Pyramid

Hexagonal Pyramid

Heptagonal Pyramid


Octagonal Pyramid

Nonagonal Pyramid

Decagonal Pyramid

Undecagonal Pyramid

Dodecagonal Pyramid



Dodecagonal Pyramid




Frustum of Pyramid


Frustum of a Triangular Prism

Frustum of a Rectangular Prism

Frustum of a Pentagonal Prism

Frustum of a Hexagonal Prism

Frustum of a Heptagonal Prism


Frustum of an Octagonal Prism

Frustum of a Nonagonal Prism

Frustum of a Decagonal Prism

Frustum of an Undecagonal Prism

Frustum of a Dodecagonal Prism




Frustum of a

Dodecagonal Prism




Transition Piece


Triangle to Circle

Square to Circle

Pentagon to Circle

Hexagon to Circle

Triangle to Square

Pentagon to Square

Hexagon to Square

Octagon to Square

Plus user defined transition piece to bridge between any shape with sides in the range of Triangular to Dodecagonal (3 to 12).


Square to Octagon

Transition Piece


Displaying a Shape


All the shapes can be displayed and printed with colors or images on each face, or as a solid line shape or one showing the hidden lines.

Shape rendered with colours

Shape rendered with images

Solid shape with lines

Showing the hidden lines






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