In this tutorial, we will go over the more advanced side of MatterControl: Design Tools. Using a combination of different shapes, you can customize 3D models or even create your own. Let's start off by giving you a brief tour of these tools.

At the top of the screen, you have the toolbar where all of your operations are. On the left side, you have your primitives, a collection of simple shapes that have a level of customizability to each of them, from the radius of a cylinder to the size of the font.

The Design Tools you have at your disposal are:

  • Cone, cube, cylinder, half cylinder, dome, half wedge, image converter, pyramid, ring, sphere, text, torus, and wedge

The 'Add' content in the top left will allow you to bring in models from your libraries, or you can click 'open file' to bring in models from somewhere else on your computer. MatterControl also has the usual, cut, copy, paste, undo, redo, and delete buttons that are standard in any sort of editing software.

Ungroup is useful for splitting apart a set of 3D models that imported together so you can print one at a time or you can use 'Group' to move parts around together or scale them all at once.

You’ll also find the 'Toggle Support' dropdown. By clicking the yellow box, you can turn any 3D model into supports, or you can click the dropdown to automatically generate supports for your model.

As mentioned before, 'lay flat' is helpful to get your 3D model flat against the bed instead of at a weird angle.

Let’s bring in a cube and a cylinder to demonstrate the rest of the options, which are specific to Design Tools:

  • Align is used to take two 3D models and line them up. Think of it as left, middle or right justified except for 3D models. Align is your piece that’s being aligned to your Anchor, and you can specify what side of your Align and Anchor are lining up.
  • Combine, Subtract, and Intersect will take multiple models and create one model out of them, remove a chunk in the shape of the second model, or create a new shape that is only where the previous two intersected.
  • Subtract and Replace is unique and better geared toward multiple extrusion printing. Think of it as using the second shape to highlight where in the first shape you want to create a new 3D model. You can color a chunk of the model geometrically like this, or import your own models and use them in the same way.
  • Linear Array creates a pattern of the original 3D model in one axis, while Radial Array creates a pattern around a center point. Advanced array is a combination of the two, allow you to use both at the same time.
  • Pinch and Curve allow you to modify a 3D model in interesting ways, like skew part of your model larger or smaller, or curving it around a center point.
  • Fit to Bounds is best used when you are creating a model that you want to be able to come back to and modify, like using fit to bounds on Text so you can change it to say whatever you want and it never expands past the boundary of the box.

To put this all in perspective, I’m really quickly going to customize a 3D model I already have: a light switch plate.

To return to the Beginner tutorial article and video, follow this link:

To return to the Intermediate tutorial article and video, follow this link:

And that’s all there is to it! I hope that gives you some ideas of how you can customize your 3D models or design your own using MatterControl Design Tools. I’ve seen a lot of creative ways you can use them, even just within the office, and I’m sure you’ll come up with something even more impressive. You can also check out the help page in the top left for some walkthroughs, or you can contact our support team at or give them a call at (949) - 613 - 5838 for some live help with your specific issue.