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Pastor Uses Shapr3D to Make Models for His Community

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Trent is a pastor from the US, with an education in theology and computer science. A rare combination, but a trend we have been seeing more frequently among Shapr3D users. Unrelated, previously unheard industries/fields are starting to realize the power of 3D modeling/3D printing, and what it can bring to their lives, their micro communities. Trent is creating 3D printed pieces for his community and family. We talked with him about his beginnings, and the printing projects he is currently working on.


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? (education, occupation)

Currently, and for the past 14 years, I have pastored a faith community in Huntington West Virginia (New Baptist Church). Before that, I lived and worked in Marsabit, Kenya and Dhaka, Bangladesh serving with an international community development organization.  How I wish I had Shapr3D and a 3D printer while living in rural Kenya. The ability to design and then make various parts for pumps and gravity fed water systems would have been invaluable.

I grew up working on farms in Eastern Oregon, did a dual degree program at Willamette University of Salem OR (Religions Studies and Computer Science), received my Masters’ of Divinity at Palmer Theological Seminary of Philadelphia PA, and recently completed my Doctor of Ministry at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore KY.

How experienced are you? (regarding 3D modeling, using CAD systems)

I have had no previous experience with using computers to do 3D Modeling or CAD systems. The only “3D modeling” I have done is with a pen and paper creating detailed plans for various woodshop projects (clocks, tables, chairs, bookcases).  Also, while serving in Kenya, I worked with a number of engineers on the water development team designing gravity fed water systems and rainwater catchment tanks.


Can you share some projects?

The Board Game

My son and I enjoy playing strategy games with each other. One of the problems of strategy games (like chess) is that they can take forever to play. We were given on loan a strategy game called “Cathedral” made up of various sized wood blocks.  The game is easy to learn and play but adds a healthy level of strategy to it. Knowing that we would have to return the game at some point, I thought it would be easy enough to create our own using Shapr3D and the printer. In designing my own game though.  In designing my own game though, I wanted it to be more than just square blocks and thus thought of creating a cityscape.

I have yet to design and print the game board.  I am trying to decide to print a board that is glued together or one that snaps together for easy storage.  My son just graduated from High-school and is off to college in the fall, and I would like to give him a completed game when he leaves.


Being a pastor of a church Christmas is an important time. Knowing that Christmas can be very difficult for people who have lost loved ones or are struggling, we did a service on the 21stof December – the longest night of the year, and called the service the “Dark Night of the Soul.”  The purpose of the service was simply to recognize people’s hurt and speak “hope” into it – as well as peace, joy, and love. These are traditional themes for the Advent season and are usually represented by candles. Yet – when only candles are present, the ideas behind them are often forgotten. I wanted a more visible display of the themes as reminders, thus I designed HOPE on Shapr3D and then printed it with my 3D Printer.

The Nativity

One of the challenges I have in using Shapr3D is drawing organic shapes (like people). I drew the nativity to attempt such shapes. Also, printed 3D plastic is not all that attractive; thus I incorporated a sheet of stained-glass into the finished product to add to the aesthetics, as well as to insulate the plastic from the open flame of a candle that would be placed behind the nativity. The stained-glass came from windows of a 200-year-old church that was torn down. Also, the nativity served as a teaching tool for the Maker’s Space being introduced at Heritage Farm and Museum, here in Huntington WV. These nativities were popular gift items during Christmas time, and the revenue helped cover the cost of my 3D hobby.  The Nativity combines the modern technology of a 3D Printed object combined with 200-year-old stain-glass.

How did your work process look like? How did you produce your objects: 3D printing, other manufacturing?

There is another program that I like on the iPad called GoodNotes. I use GoodNotes to create basic drawings and keep track of an item’s dimensions. Then, I split the screen between Shapr3D and GoodNotes. Using the pre-planned dimensions I construct a basic shape, and then from there, I begin a process of creating patterns within Shapr3D freehanded.

To print, I export as STL to iCloud. From there, I open the file on my desktop with Flashforge’s Flashprint software to prepare the print for the printer. It’s a great program, allows me to rotate, move and slice. Once set, I export the file to the printer and print. I have tended to use PLA for most of my printing due to the ease of it adhering to the print bed.

Do you have future plans with the software?

I am still learning the software. I have plans to use Shapr3D to create archaeological sites for teaching. It would be like the storyboard idea, but having numerous objects that can be printed. For example – the temple mount in Jerusalem, or the Acropolis in Athens Greece.

Mobile Modeling

How long have you been using the iPad Pro and why did you choose a tablet to do your modeling?

I was an early adopter of the iPad Pro with the Apple pencil. My hope was that it would replace my laptop (which it did not), and had a little buyer’s remorse over the purchase.  Don’t get me wrong the iPad Pro is an amazing machine – but for the type of work, that I typically do a traditional computer is adequate. Yet, having the capacity to create 3D designs that I can actually print changes everything. The iPad Pro is now a tool that I would find it very hard to be without.

How did you discover Shapr3D?

A little over a year ago Amazon launched a Gold Box sale on 3D Printers – a technology that I have been eyeing for a long time with the hopes of a price drop. Due to the Gold Box special, I purchased a Flashforge Creative Pro – and began to print all kinds of things found on thingiverse.com. During this time, I began to search for various desktop or iPad app that would allow me to 3D  model. I believe I downloaded every free or demo program either in the Apple App Store or on the internet. I tried to use the AutoCAD program as well as many others but felt that building with shapes (AutoCAD) was either clunky or limited.

After weeks of trying a variety of programs, I realized that I would need to invest some time to learn a system.  Thus I began to watch the videos produced by Shapr3D. I watched the video on how to construct a pencil holder while mimicking it with my own iPad Pro and pencil with Shapr3D. That is how I learned to use Shapr3D.


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Anthony Lowder

Anthony has been following the industry since 2010. He works with the editorial team and is responsible for co-ordinating and publishing digital content on our international website. As well as following the tech landscape, he is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and music producer.

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