Questions? Email

PART 1: Designing Parts Using CAD

Print-a-Part involves using CAD software to design parts that will later be 3D printed. If you have no experience with CAD or 3D printing, that’s okay! We will provide the tools you need to get started:

What is CAD? CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. CAD software allows engineers (or future engineers!) to draft designs and diagrams for new products.

How much is CAD software? CAD software can range in prices as it gets more complex, however, there are a lot of free software available online like TinkerCAD.

What if I have no experience? That’s okay! TinkerCAD is user-friendly and there are plenty of tutorials online. We recommend checking out

Here are some guidelines for Print a Part with Chicago EDT. In design engineering, these are called constraints.

  • The part must be 3” or less in length, 3” or less in width, 3” or less in height.
  • The design must be submitted in an email with all the information we have asked in the Print-a-Part page
  • The design must be approved by a school teacher participating in Print-a-Part
    • If you don’t have a participating school teacher, send one to our Teachers page.
  • The part must be appropriate. Ask yourself: Would your design be something you would want your parents or teachers to see?
  • The part must be safe. Keep in mind that 3D printed plastic can splinter or shatter, so make sure to keep your parts away from young children and animals. Chicago EDT is not responsible for any harm done as a result of your part. We will do our best to give you feedback on making your part safe!

If your part does not meet one or more of these requirements, we will send you an email explaining what needs to be changed. Feel free to ask us questions!

Part 2: Write a description about your design

Engineers have to use documentation to ensure that their ideas can be understood by every person involved. Engineers work with machinists, welders, designers, marketers, and customers, so their work must be easy to understand, even to a person without an engineering background.

When writing the description about your part, consider the following questions:

  • What inspired you to make this part?
  • What will you use this part for?
  • Are you making this part for yourself or someone else?
  • Why did you choose to make your part a certain shape?
  • Why did you choose to make your part a certain color?

Requirements/Constraints for the description

  • The description must use full sentences.
  • The description must have appropriate language.

We might send a follow-up email with more questions, in the case we need more information about your part. If you have any concerns, feel free to send us an email!

If you are interested to see the type of documentation that Chicago EDT uses, check out the systems engineering report written for the Robotic Mining Competition in 2016. (click here)

Part 3: Send us your files

Once you have created a part that fits the requirements listed in Part 1, follow these instructions.

  1. Rename your part to follow this format:


For example, if somebody named Isaac Newton created an apple part, he would name his part:


This will help us keep track of your part.

In TinkerCAD, they assign a random name for your part. To rename your part, click on the name that TinkerCAD gave you.

The text will highlight and you will be able to rename your part.

Export your part as an *.STL.

STL is a filetype that is used for 3D printers. When typing an essay, you might save your document as a .docx file if you use Microsoft Word, but you would save a Powerpoint as a .ppt file. Similarly, 3D printers require STL files because of the information stored in an STL file.

In TinkerCAD, you will see this:

Click on “Export”. A new menu will pop up.

Make sure you are in the “Download” tab. Click on “Everything in the design” and then click “.STL”. Your computer will ask you if you would like to open or save the file, click on “Save File”. Most likely, the part will be saved to your “Downloads” folder.

To send your files, you will need an email address.

In Gmail (and almost every email service), there will be a paperclip icon at the bottom of the email. Once you click on it, find your STL file/s.

Once you locate the file/s, attach them to the email. Make the subject of your email “ [Submission]YourLastName_YourSchool’sName” and send the email to Your email should look like this:


Lisa’s Heart Necklace Pendant


Click here for a video tutorial:


This program is run by UIC students.

We are doing this to further interest in the STEM field out of our own budget. As we are students, we might not be able to get back to you quickly. For this, we apologize. We will try to work on submitted designs as fast as we are able to.

Thank you!