DMA How-To: Print a 3D Keychain

By Marcus D

This Digital Media Academy How-To project on how to make a 3D keychain will give you a new appreciation of industrial design and challenge you to realize your creative potential. You will gain skills in 3D printing and 3D modeling.

Please Note: This project uses Autodesk® 123D® Design. DMA uses 123D® Design in its 3D Printing & Industrial Design tech camp.

Project Steps
There are 10 major steps to this project, with many smaller steps:

 Step 1: Create basic shapes for your keychain


a) Select Box from the Primitives drop-down menu at the top of your screen.

b) Set the size of the box by clicking on the Size Toolbar number fields and enter: Length: 20, Width: 75, Height: 3.

c) Place the shape by clicking your mouse pointer anywhere on the grid canvas.

 Step 2: Create a cylinder


a) Select Cylinder from the Primitives drop-down menu at the top of your screen.

b) Click on the Size Toolbar number fields and enter: Radius: 10, Height: 3.

c) Place the shape to the left of the box.

 Step 3: Navigate your 3D scene

If you want to navigate the canvas grid, the tools to pan, orbit and zoom the 3D world are located on the right-hand side of the 123D® Design interface:


Pan: To pan from side to side, press down on your middle scrolling mouse wheel and move your mouse around to pan.

Orbit: Right-click to hover around the grid canvas.

Zoom: To zoom in or out, scroll your mouse wheel to zoom.

 Step 4: Combine your shapes into one shape


a) Click on the Cylinder and hover your cursor over the Transform icon. Next, click on the Move/Rotate tool from the drop-down menu.

b) Click and drag on the right arrow to center the Cylinder on the left edge of your box.

c) Click on Undo from the toolbar if you make a mistake.

 Step 5: Create a place for your name


a) Select Box from the Primitives options in the toolbar.

b) Click on the Size Toolbar number fields and enter: Length: 16, Width: 60, Height: 1.

c) Place and move the smaller box shape so it is centered on the larger box. (A)

d) Move its Z axis down to be flush and level. (B)

 Step 6: Emboss the box with the smaller box


a) From the toolbar, hover your cursor over Combine and click on the Subtract icon.

b) Click on the larger box first (target), then the smaller box (source). Look for a green highlight around your selected shape. (A)

c) Press Return on the keyboard to complete the task. (B)

 Step 7: Add a name to your keychain


a) Select Text from the toolbar.

b) Click once on the smaller inside box.

c) Click again inside the box where you want your text to start.

d) Enter your name in the Text Field and click OK.

 Step 8: Make your name 3D


a) Select your name and a Gear icon will appear.

b) Hover your cursor over the Gear icon and click on the Extrude Text icon. A numeric dialog box will appear.

c) Enter 1 in the numeric dialog box and press Return.

 Step 9: Check your keychain so far


a) Visually inspect your 3D name.

b) Visually check the appearance of your keychain.

c) If it doesn’t look like this (see photo), retrace your steps up to this point.

 Step 10: Add a hole to your keychain


a) Add a cylinder, with Radius: 2, Height: 20.

b) Select your newly created smaller cylinder and move it so it’s positioned as shown in the photo.

c) Make sure the smaller cylinder goes all the way through the larger cylinder. (Use the smaller cylinder’s Z axis to move its position up or down.)

d) From the toolbar, hover the cursor over Combine and click Subtract from the drop-down menu.

e) Click on the larger cylinder (target) first, then the smaller cylinder (source). (A)

f) Press Return on the keyboard to complete the project.(B)

Congratulations! Your keychain is now complete and ready for 3D printing…

Marcus Duvoisin is assistant director of curriculum at DMA, as well as a DMA instructor.

Print it Out in 3D!
If you have access to a 3D printer, export your project file and send it to your printer to print it out. If you don’t have access to a 3D printer, you can also send your print files to a 3D printing service that will print it out and ship it to you.

3D Printing & Industrial Design is just one of more than 70 camps and courses offered through Digital Media Academy technology summer camps. Register now!