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How to 3D print your own keychain

An end to end guide to printing your first simple keychain

By: Uffe Aalborg

It is fun to walk around with a keychain that you have designed and printed yourself. The good thing is that you can quickly get started with the free intuitive model drawing software ThinkerCAD and 3D print slicer tool REALvision online.

In this guide I will show you how you can draw and design your keychain, and how you prepare it for 3D printing. Lets get started so you can have your own masterpiece in your hands.

How to design your own keychain with TinkerCad

Start by signing in or create an account at ThinkerCAD.

When that is done, you will find yourself at the TinkerCAD dashboard. From here you will be able to see all your earlier creations. Click “create new design” to get started 3D modeling.

Now you will find yourself in the ThinkerCAD workspace. To start making a keychain, you choose the red box to your right. Don’t worry about the color, as your keychain will be the color of your filament

Screenshot showing the workspace of TinkerCAD and where to choose the red starting box

At the top, there is a ruler. Add it next to your box so that you can see the 3D dimensions. The dimensions are shown in mm, so 20 is 2 cm.

You can stretch the box if you want to have it wider, but I have decided to make my keychain a square for this example. In the picture, I have set the height to 4, so it will nearly be half a cm thick.

How to make a hole for your keys to fit​

Next, you would like to make a hole for your keychain. You do this by first adding a solid cylinder in the corner and making the height the same as the box. In the example, the length and the width of the cylinder are 4mm each.

Then add another cylinder in the middle of the first cylinder, but this one needs to be a hole.

Screenshot showing how to crate a keychain hole in TinkerCAD

Hold down shift and click on the two cylinders. Then click the group bottom

Screenshot showing how to regroup keychain objects in TinkerCAD

Now you should see a nice hole inside the cylinder. If yes, then you can group your new cylinder with the box. Maybe you already guessed it, but you have now made the hole for where your keys are going to fit.

If you would like to put your name on top of the box, click the button “Workplane” in the right top corner.

Screenshot showing where to find the workplane button in TinkerCAD

A blue square should appear, and when you place that on your model, the whole workplane should turn yellow. By adding another workplane, you are telling Tinkercad that everything you put on this workplane should be on top of what’s beneath it, enabling you to create something that pops out of your keychain.

To the right, you can choose to put text in the model. My name is Uffe, which is why I choose to put on that.

I have set the text height to 2, so it doesn’t stand out too much. You can also choose to put on other elements. I have decided to put a funny beard at the bottom to give the keychain another 3D effect. You can also put on hats, eyes, and many other things if you like.

Screenshot showing how to put elements like beard and hats on your 3D model

When you are happy with your keychain, click export.

Screenshot showing how to export your model in TinkerCAD

Choose .stl and save it on your computer. The stl. file format is the format that your slicer tool uses when preparing your model for 3D printing.

How to find cool designs on 3D file portals

Screenshot showing 3D printing precurated models ready for 3D printing on Thingiverse

The fastest way to get a fantastic self-printed keychain is to download a design from one of the many portals for free 3D print models.

Good portals to start looking at are

  1. Thingiverse
  2. ThinkerCAD Gallery

When you find a model you like, you click download and save as it .stl.

How to slice your 3D keychain

When you have drawn your model or found it on a portal, you will need to prepare it, so your 3D printer can correctly place the layers of filament in the proper order.

This process is called slicing, and you can use the free slicing software REALvision Online to slice your keychain.

An image of the Realvison Online landingpage

When you have made a free account, upload your .stl file and view your keychain as your 3D printer will approach it.

A screenshot showing how to upload an stl file

When done, press the red button in the right bottom corner to start the slicing process.

A screenshot showing the location of the print button

When the slicing is done, you will see an estimated length for your print together with the amount of filament you will need. Hit the red button in the right corner to download the G-code file that your 3D printer can use.

A screenshot showing the time to print

How to 3D print your keychain

Image showing a Creality Ender 3 printer with grey filament

The least challenging part of making your own keychain is printing it, as the printer does all the work when you first have stated it.

Put your G-code on an SD card or a USB drive to get your printer started, depending on which printer you have.

This time I have decided to use a Creality Ender 3v2 printer to keep it simple.

To start the print, you:

  1. Insert the SD-card/USB stick in the printer
  2. Find your file on the display
  3. Check that you have enough filament before printing
  4. Click print

How did the printing go?

The first print I made was my own creation of a keychain. It went out well and took only about 15 min. I would like to make the edges more curved, so that is for my next print. I would also like to paint the name and the beard, so it is not grey in grey.

A finished 3D printed keychain

As a huge Minecraft fan, I was ecstatic when I saw that the user GASmakerspace had made models of the tools from the game available on Thingiverse, so I also printed them. Here’s a picture with the ax, and as you can see, this print also went well, so now I have plenty of keychains to choose from.

A 3D printed keychain formed as an axe from mindcraft

Now it is time to 3D print your own keychain

I hope you now have a good feeling about how to 3D print your own keychain. Probably you have already started? Either way, I wish you fun while you print.

Remember you can use REALvision Online to slice your keychain for free. Just click the “Start slicing” button in the top corner of this page.

Get Started today
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