I want to recommend new features for SelfCAD. How can I do that?
We would love to hear from you! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I noticed that SelfCAD supports transparent objects. Does that mean I print transparent 3D objects?
Transparency is only for rendering; so, no, you cannot print transparent objects. 3D objects will be printed as a solid object, regardless of the opacity setting used during the design process.
How can I make my object smoother?
Try using the ‘Round Corners’ function to smooth out the entire shape, or use ‘Bevel Edges’ or ‘Smooth Brush’ to smooth out parts of the object. For solely visual purposes, try using 'Smooth' from Scene panel. Check out this video to learn more.
What units does SelfCAD use? What will the size of the final print be?
1 SelfCAD unit = 1 mm when the object is sliced and printed.
You can watch this video tutorial to learn more about the measurement tool.
How do I select/unselect an object?
To select/unselect an object, click on it with your left mouse button. To select all objects simultaneously, click ‘Edit’ and choose 'Select All'. To select multiple things, either click on them one by one or right-click and drag(only works if you are using Firefox or Chrome).To unselect all objects, click anywhere but the objects on your workspace Check out the video tutorial on youtube to learn more about selecting and scaling objects in SelfCAD.
Can I set custom hotkeys?
We are working on this feature and will add it very soon!
How do I zoom? How do I move the camera?
To zoom in and out: Switch to camera zoom mode (located in the camera function’s top panel). You can then use your mouse’s scroll toggle, use your laptop’s trackpad (move two fingers up and down), or the + and - keys on your keyboard to zoom in and out. To move/pan camera: Switch to camera pan mode (located in the camera function’s top panel). You can then press down scroll on your mouse and move the mouse (if available) or simply use the top/bottom/left/right keys on your keyboard to pan. For a complete overview see understanding the camera in computer graphics.
How to Use Interactive Tutorials
Go to Tutorials and select an Interactive Tutorial you wish to follow.
If you have a generated URL, simply head to the link.
Activate Tutorial and follow the step indicated under “Recorded Step”. Make sure to watch out for which specific tool is highlighted. All other functions will be unavailable.
You can also check Action Details for additional tips and notes.
How to create a hole in an object in SelfCAD
Use the Difference option of the stitch and scoop tool. You can watch this video to learn more.
Is there a function similar to Array or Follow Me?
Yes, there is. It's called Follow Path, and you will find it in the Tools drop-down list in the main Toolbar, and it fulfills the functions of both of those tools.
To use it effectively, you'll need a Shape and a Path the Shape will follow to create the object. It's worth noting that the Shape can be anything. If you use a 3D model, the tool will either create a specified number of duplicates along the Path or wrap around it.
If you use a profile, it will simply Follow along the Path to create geometry in a perpendicular direction to the Path, and because of this, it's best to make sure that your Shape is placed perpendicular to the Path.
The Path, on the other hand, is just a profile that will guide the Shape. You can read all about drawing Profiles here.
You can see the basic flow of this tool in the video down below.
How can I export my models in SelfCAD?
a) Find 'Export' in 'Files' then choose the format of the model you would like to export your design in.
You can choose to export your object in STL, PNG or:
- .gltf v2
- .gltf v2 (binary)
b) What happens if I try to export two or more objects at the same time?
What should happen is: you'll get a zip file with an stl or the extension you chose of every object you exported.
If you want to export your group as one object, you need to Group them. There's however a danger that this will merge them, once you import them in another 3D modeling program.
How to use 'Cut with Profile'?
To use Cut with Profile you have to select both a mesh and profile which is drawn on this mesh and then choose Cut with Profile.
For more information watch the video about Cut with Profile.
How to export and upload objects to MyMiniFactory?
The first thing to do is to connect your SelfCAD account with your MyMiniFactory account. You can do it by clicking on the MMF icon in the users' options on the top right side of the screen.
Clicking on it will open up a panel on the left side of the screen, where you'll see the option to connect your account.
Once it's done, all you have to do is to select the object you'd like to export and upload it to MyMiniFactory by using one fo the two following options:
And it's done! Now you can download and re-use your objects in your future projects without issues by downloading them to the scene by using the following option:
Here is a short video showing the entire process:
You can also access the exported models directly on the MyMiniFactory page, in the My Library section, where you can download it and share it with others:
How can I trim Profiles in SelfCAD?
Select the profiles you need to trim using the selection modes of SelfCAD then you can delete them and use the extrusion tool to increase the polygons. See this video to learn more.
Can we import other stl files into our SelfCAD sketches/designs?
Please test it with MyMiniFactory plugin - you can import any STL file uploaded there to your current project.
How can I cut objects in pieces?
How do I turn a drawing into a 3D model in SelfCAD?
After drawing your model, use the fill polygon tool to convert the drawing into a 3D model. You can then use the Add thickness tool to add more. Check out this Gif to learn more.
I am trying to download/export a few objects, and nothing happens after I click ‘Export as an STL’. Am I doing something wrong?
Most likely your browser is blocking the downloading of multiple files. Please check your browser settings.
Does SelfCAD work in Firefox private window?
Unfortunately, SelfCAD does not work in the Firefox private window. The application requires a feature called IndexDB to work properly, and the private window in Firefox disables it.
To avoid the issue, please reload the application in the standard window or try the private mode in another browser. Chrome and its Incognito Mode, for example, allows the IndexDB to work correctly.
I need help with bending 3D text or other object that just doesn't look right in SelfCAD.
Please watch this video. If what you are doing doesn't look quite right, you can manually change the anchor point by picking 'Manual Gizmo Position' in 'Advanced Settings' in 'Bend'. Put the point in the place you want your object to bend towards.
Can I download my objects or save them on my device?
Yes. You can download your objects by selecting the Export option from the File drop-down menu. Once the Export popup window appears, simply select the desired downloading format. The feature is not available for Free Account users. However, as a Free Account user, you can export your models for free to MyMiniFactory and later download your model from there.
How do I align objects together?
You can try to place them together by hand or use the Align tool. Check out this step-by-step guide to learn more.
How to Record a SelfCAD Interactive Tutorial
- Launch Editor
- In the Tools panel, click Tutorial and hit Record Tutorial.
- Hit Record.
- Start Designing.
SelfCAD will automatically generate step-by-step instructions based on your actions within Editor under Recorded Step.
- Edit Recorded Steps
Under Recorded Step, you can add additional notes regarding the technical parts of your Interactive Tutorial.
- Edit Action Details
Under Action Details, you can add notes and tips about your design. This is a good place to put your Recorded Steps in context and explain why such steps are required for your design.
I got lost in the scene. How do I reset the camera?
Click the ‘Reset Camera’ icon (located in the camera function’s top panel) or press Ctrl + 0. Check out this video to learn more.
Can SelfCAD be used to create furniture?
Yes. You can use the free-hand drawing and sketching tools of SelfCAD to create furniture easily from scratch. Or you can also draw your model and import it to SelfCAD and trace around it using the drawing tools and later turn the drawing into a 3D model. Please see this video tutorial to learn more.
How To Edit an Interactive Tutorial
- Select Record Tutorial from the Tools panel.
- Under Controls, click Edit.
- You can either paste a listed URL or upload a downloaded Interactive Tutorial from your device.
- Once imported, you can simply change, add, or edit the descriptions on anything that will not break the Interactive Tutorial.
How can I cut away or make a sloping easily on an object?
To cut away some parts of the model, use the selection tools to select the part(s) and use the Chamfer tool found in the modify section of the toolbar. To chamfer the whole object, turn off the fill polygon option in the fill settings of the Chamfer tool. Check out this video to learn more.
How can I inflate edges in SelfCAD?
Use the edge selection tool to select the edges and then use the inflate tool found in the 'Deform' section to inflate the edge.
Please see this video to learn more.
How to access SelfCAD Shortcuts?
To access all the keyboard shortcuts of SelfCAD, click on the Keyboard shortcuts option on the Top-right section of the SelfCAD interface. You can watch this video on Youtube to learn more.
Can I make macros in SelfCAD? What are macros?
You can make them in "Copy Offset" tool in Tools (shortcut: T+O).
Macros are simple scripts that can make your life easier. For example, you can copy an object 50 times to form a neat pattern or make a staircase with one click.
Here is a video demonstrating how to use macros in SelfCAD.
How to fix Fillet and Chamfer when they break the model?
Oftentimes, we get emails from our users asking why does Chamfer and/or Fillet break the topology of the object. This FAQ will answer that question by pinpointing what causes this issue, providing a solution, and a piece of advice on how to avoid similar issues in your future projects. Down below, you will find an image of the model that will serve as an example to showcase the issue and how to fix it.
Identifying the cause
Let’s start with identifying the cause of the issue. The most common reason as to why the Chamfer and Fillet will break the model when you attempt to use them is the geometry, and more precisely, complex geometry. Both of these tools will split and move the edges of the object, and the issues will start when there is no place to move those edges or when other edges will block their path.
One of the most common reasons as to why the topology would look like that is the Stitch & Scoop, or the Boolean as you might know it, but there are other ways in which you could achieve such outcomes, and most of them involve the direct modification of the topology. However, the why is not important right now. Instead, let’s focus on how to fix this.
A piece of advice
But before we got onto that, allow me to give you a piece of advice that might save your projects in the future, one so that you will not need such help in the first place. Generally, it's a good practice to create and design your model, and only then to tinker with its topology. In this instance, it means that you should use the Chamfer and/or Fillet before using the Stitch & Scoop or other tools that heavily impact the geometry of the object.
The first step is to clear out the unnecessary detail by setting the Resolution of the object to 0. If you are lucky, this step alone will take care of the problem, but as you can see in the image above, there are still fragments that will clash with Chamfer and Fillet.
The tool that will fix the leftover issues is Inset. It will create a loop of edges inside the model, which will create some much-needed distance between the edges, so Chamfer and Fillet will have enough space to apply their modification without intersecting with other edges. Of course, you have to pay attention so you won’t break the geometry with the Inset as well, which is something that you have to measure with your eyes.
At this point, you should be able to use both tools without breaking the model. As you can see in the image above, the edges moved far enough so that both Fillet and Chamfer managed to apply their modifications without breaking the topology. The model in the back showcases the Chamfered Edge Loop and the one up front, the Filleted Edge Loop.
How can I hollow out an object?
To hollow out your object you can use Stitch&Scoop, select the polygons and delete them (all our 3D shapes are empty inside) or 'Flatten' the object then use 'Inflate'. Click here for a helpful step-by-step guide.
What is the difference between the Extrusion and Add thickness tools of SelfCAD?
Both tools are used in converting polygons into 3D models but the difference is the extrusion tool creates a surface model (shape design) where’s add thickness creates a solid model (geometric description of the model). See this video to learn more.
When I change UV settings of one texture, the other textures change too
Please check if the objects are grouped Group is considered as one object hence UVs are changing for all its parts.
How to add text to a 3D model in SelfCAD?
There are two methods: either by using the Text tool in 3D Sketch or in the FreeHand in Drawing. We would recommend using FreeHand for the best result. Just go to the Drawing -> FreeHand and choose Text, write your text, and confirm the changes. Now you can scale it, put it on your model and Merge, Group, or use Union to attach it to your model.
What is '3D Print' feature about?
3D Print gives you access to SelfCAD's slicer.
The first thing you will see after clicking 3D Print is the preview, where you can see the results of your operations. In the top part of the preview, there is one of the most important buttons in slicer - Slice. Only after pressing this button the object is sliced into layers and only then you can see how the object will look like, what the path of the nozzle will be, how long the printing process will take.
Navigation is a little bit different than in the SelfCAD app - you also rotate the camera using the left mouse button, zoom in and out with the mouse wheel, but to pan, you have to use the right mouse button instead of the middle one. You can also reset the camera by pressing the button in the bottom left corner.
a) What will happen if I put more than one object in the slicer?
The Slicer will ask you it should treat the objects as separate or not.
b) What if I can't find my printer in the Slicer?
You can create your own printer profile by pressing the 'Open Profile Editor' button. You can set all default parameters of your printer and material you use there.
c) Can I save the GCode?
After pressing Slice you can save the GCode, a file that provides information about the object being printed to the printer. When your object is sliced, the new button appears in the bottom right corner. The white text "Save GCode" on it suggests that it is this button that generates the file, which should be delivered to the printer.
d) What do I need to do to print my model?
To print your model you have to do 3 things: import the object into the slicer, slice it and save the GCode which says the printer what it should do.
To see SelfCAD's slicer in action, watch this video.
How to fix Alpha maps? Issues with Patterns in Sculpting, and Image To 3D tool
In truth, you can use any image for the Alpha map (you can see it showcased in Sculpting here and in Image To 3D here). However, it will be converted into grayscale, so it is advised to use images that have a clear contrast between light and dark colors, as it will make it easier for the software to recognize the patterns.
Can I export my models?
To download your models, you can click on File>export then choose. Though the free account doesn’t allow one to download the models, you can save it to the cloud or on Myminifactory. Watch this video to learn more about how to download your designs.
Can you move/scale/rotate selected edges/vertices/faces?
Sure! Select edges/vertices/faces using ‘Polygon Selection’ and then use the desired transformations in the same way you would use them for shapes.
You can check out this article to learn more.
How do I use a trackpad to control the camera?
Click and drag to rotate the camera. Using two fingers with the correct technique, you can also move the camera up and down and zoom in and out. Try using the rotation cube to easily get certain angle views.
Can I texture an object in SelfCAD?
Yes! Select your object and click at 'Material', between 'Color' and 'Opacity'. You'll find a selection of default textures there and an option to import your own.
Please see this video to learn more.
I want to import an XYZ object but SelfCAD does not support it. Can SelfCAD add support for the XYZ files format?
Currently, we support only the most common file formats: STL (binary and text format), MTL, PLY, DAE, and SVG. We plan to add support for additional file formats soon, of a series of plugins.
Where can I get more advanced shapes?
SelfCAD users can access the MyMiniFactory library, which consists of over 30,000 ready-to-print objects. Simply download the object you want from MyMiniFactory within the SelfCAD application (you will need a separate MyMiniFactory account). You have access to thousands of amazing objects without having to create them from scratch.
You can check out this video to learn more.
What is a 'Profile'?
In SelfCAD we have two types of objects - meshes and profiles. The basic difference between them is that meshes are composed of polygons and profiles are actually sets of edges. It means that the profiles have no volume and you cannot print them but you can use them to model many interesting printable meshes.
a) How can I create a Profile?
You can create profiles either by drawing them yourself in 3D Sketch or since each profile is composed of edges, you can easily copy them from the already ready mesh.
How can I create 3D text?
SelfCAD's 3D Drawing tool allows you to draw/type 3D text on planes and shapes. Simply click on the plane, or shape you would like to draw on and select the drawing tool. You will notice an option for adding and customizing text.
How can I save my 3D Objects in the cloud?
Besides downloading, exporting, and sharing your models on Social Media, there are three additional ways to save your 3d objects to the cloud in SelfCAD. Each of those methods has its own use-cases, and each of them will be introduced in the following paragraphs.
1. The first option is the traditional ‘Save’ found in the User Options. It saves the latest version of the project, with all of the settings and objects to the cloud. SelfCAD performs an autosave every three minutes, but you can click on the highlighted icon to save at any time, especially if you want to exit the project.
2. The second option is ‘Save Project As’. This method creates a copy of the entire project. It gives you a backup version of the project you can always fall back on, that you can access from the project page.
3. The third option is called ‘Save Objects’, which allows you to save a version of a selected model in the cloud, which can be used to create an object library. It’s particularly useful when you want to reuse an object in different projects because you can Load Objects from any scene.