I’m excited to share a brief, hands-on introduction to Rhino and Grasshopper–powerful software for 2D and 3D design work. Rhino is perfect for designing all sorts of objects–art, tools, toys, prototypes, etc. Rhino creates files that are ready-to-go on laser cutters and 3D printers. Rhino has a 90 day trial, and you’ll find that any skills you pick up in Rhino will transfer reasonably well to AutoCAD or other CAD softwares(Computer Assisted Design). Grasshopper is free.
Grasshopper is an easy-to-use add-on that allows you to easily create much more complex designs very easily–empowering users to make explicit use of mathematics within the design process. (More technically speaking, Grasshopper is a drag-and-drop functional scripting interface for Rhino.)
The intro above is written to take you from 0 to On Your Way: if you follow along in the software, you should be able to precisely reproduce the pieces below, and you should understand the techniques well enough to get started making your own [insert your ideas here]!
[Edit, Nov 2017: I’m also including the slides and handout from my presentation at the National Association for Gifted Children 2017, which includes more tips on getting started with the design/fabrication process using CAD.]