SelfCAD is a 3D CAD modelling program with a relatively simple interface which is easier for students to learn than many other Professional CAD software, however the software has an array of advanced features suitable for older students with more complex design requirements. Models can be created using a variety of different techniques. You can simply drag 3D shapes from the library and combine them (by adding or subtracting shapes) to build your model. However the software also allows you to draw bespoke shapes on one of the 3D planes then push and pull the shapes into 3 dimensional forms. Shapes can be moved and grouped to build up the 3D drawing and the software also has sculpting functionality which allows students to create more organic forms.
We recommend SelfCAD for students in upper KS2 and upwards although younger students may need support whilst familiarising themselves with the software. One advantage of SelfCAD is that it offers a clear progression route for students who have mastered the basics of the software using some of the more advanced tools, this allows them to create more complex designs than by just combining 3D primitive shapes. It also offers a built in 3D model slicer, eliminating the requirement for additional software and simplifying the design to 3D print process for students.
SelfCAD is cloud based software, available to schools free of charge for a 12 month initial period. It is also available to students free of charge for a 3 year period. To access the software, schools need to contact SelfCAD by email or phone and they will set up the required number of accounts for students which allow them to register under a unique code. There is no limit to class or school accounts and schools can have as many registered users as they would like. Classes will have access to the teacher dashboard and can save and share objects to everyone inside the dashboard.
There are a number of online resources available to help teachers and students to learn SelfCAD.
SelfCAD have also published some nice starter projects as Instructables tutorials. These contain step-by-step instructions that allow students to learn some of the features of SelfCAD whilst designing a product for 3D printing: