How to design your own 3D printable fidget spinner


Sure you can download a fidget spinner design from Thingaverse, but what’s the fun of that?! It’s quite easy to design your own using, for example, an entry-level 3D modeling software like Tinkercad. Here’s how I created a very simple but very personalized spinner.

We’re going to make this fidget spinner.

1. Under Basic Shapes, grab a solid Box and give it these dimensions.

W: 75

D: 30

H: 7

In its Inspector box on the right, give it a Radius of 3.

2. Under Basic Shapes, grab a Hole Cylinder and give it these dimensions.

W: 22.1 (Spinner bearings are 22mm in diameter, so we are making the hole slightly larger, although it might need to get as much as 0.5mm depending on the 3D printer used. The bearing should fit snuggly in the hole.)

D: 22.1

H: 10

In its Inspector box on the right, give it Sides of 64 to make it smooth.

3. Use the Align tool to center the Hole with the Box.

4. Duplicate the Hole and move it 25mm to the right. Duplicate the first Hole and move it 25mm to the left. Group the three holes with the box. It should look like this when you are done.

5. Grab the Text tool, use your name and give it these dimensions.

W: 65

D: 5

H: 3

6. Rotate your name and Align it with the spinner body. Remember to align it with the center of the spinner’s height.

7. Duplicate your name and repeat it on the other side. Group everything and you are done.

8. Remove the bearings from your store bought spinner and enjoy your own customized fidget spinner!


(Yes making a tri-fidget spinner is also possible with Tinkercad although, it will take many more steps. Start with this easy one for now. Enjoy!)



What? You want me to 3D print an umbrella?


One of the most enjoyable aspects of running 3D printing training courses is coming up with suitable challenges for the students, both children and adults. The model should have a proper mix of simplicity and difficulty. It should be common enough so the students already have an idea what it should look like. But it should also have some features that should stretch their imagination as well. This week, I realized that the ubiquitous umbrella would be a great 3D modeling and 3D printing challenge.


by James Carver Umbrellas

How can we design and 3D print an umbrella that can open and close right off the printer? Looking at the illustration, how do we control the 3D printer in order to create just enough space between the Runner and the Tube? What hinge should we use to connect the Stretcher and the Rib as well as the Rib to the Top Notch? How would the Top Spring work (if we can’t use a metal spring)? Can we find a substitute for it? What material can we use for the canvas that can block out the rain?

But most importantly, as I tell all my students, as we think through the process of creating anything, it is even possible to improve on the umbrella’s design, which has been around for a very long, 25 hundred years?

What’s on

A quick check on shows surprisingly few 3D models for umbrellas. This first one is by Zomboe, which he admits can use some improvements such as finding a way to hold up the Runner (which he calls a Slider). And of course, it also needs a proper canvas to repel water.


by Zomboe

This second model by Austin Reid, uses Ninja Flex filament as the canvas. It seems to have some potential but it’s unclear because it’s designed as a toy.


by Austin Reid

The rest of the umbrella models on Thingaverse don’t fold.

A first radical change in 2500 years

Moving away from Thingaverse, I found the Kazbrella, by Designer Jenan Kazim, who used 3D printing technology to prototype and refine the parts until he reached the precision necessary to develop his very unique inverted umbrella. Kazim actually answered my question above about whether or not 3D printing can improve on the umbrella’s original design. It’s a definitive yes!


The Kazbrella

Returning to the more traditional umbrella, do you think you (and your children) want to try creating your own umbrella? I think it’s a great mental exercise! Tell me if you can do it!