Do you want to create an amazing 3D model that is ready to be printed? With Blender, the powerful open-source 3D modeling software, it’s easier than ever. Here we will guide you through all the steps necessary to design and prepare your own 3D model for printing. So let’s get started!
Blender is an extensive 3D creation suite that is extensively used by novices, professional designers and enthusiasts for a vast array of tasks, including 3D modeling, animation, motion graphics design, illustration and numerous other activities. It is the go-to software for people from all walks of life who are interested in creating high-quality 3D artwork with ease.
The powerful and comprehensive software is extensively employed throughout the industry to generate striking visuals with ease. It has become a versatile and indispensable tool for creating extraordinary visual effects that astound viewers.
Using Blender for 3D printing is a great way to bring your models to life. Created as an animation tool, with some extra steps, it’s possible to make your models 3D printable. To do this, simply follow the appropriate tutorial, and you’ll soon be able to see your creations come alive!
1. Enable the 3D Print Toolbox Add-On
Before we start, you must make sure to have the most up-to-date version of Blender installed. Additionally, it would be beneficial to familiarize yourself with the keyboard shortcuts included in Blender 3.0. Taking a few moments to review the shortcuts can help you save time and energy while working on projects within the program.
Here are some of the most practical Blender shortcuts you should be aware of:
- S or S + X, Y, or Z: Scales the object in accordance with the X, Y, or Z axis
- G: Enables model or vertex movement
- TAB: When you need to enter edit mode
- Shift + F: You can fill a space between chosen vertices
Activate the 3D print toolbox add-on by doing the following steps:
- Click on the Add-Ons tab
- Navigate to Edit > Preferences
- Search for the 3D Print Toolbox
This useful tool will enable us to ensure that your model is properly prepared for a successful 3D printing process, allowing it to run smoothly and without any problems. It will provide invaluable assistance in the preparation of your model, ensuring that all necessary steps are taken for the optimal success of the 3D printing experience.
2. Have Your 3D Model Ready
If you have a 3D model that you want to use for 3D printing, great, but if not, don’t worry. On websites like Thingiverse or Cults 3D, there are many possibilities that are free. However, it is important to remember that not all these models have been designed specifically for 3D printing. Therefore, if you’re looking for something truly unique and tailor-made for your project, then you might want to consider creating your own 3D model in the popular software program Blender.
3. Exponentiate the 3D model
Once you have a 3D model ready, it is essential to ensure that your model is completely solid and filled with no missing holes or vertices. This is a critical step in the 3D modeling process as any errors can lead to major issues when using the model afterward. Therefore, ensuring that all parts of the model are optimally connected together without any gaps or holes should be an integral part of the workflow.
To be more precise, this 3D model must possess the quality of being a manifold. This means that all of its components must be enclosed in a space capable of existing in reality. In other words, the external geometry needs to be something that can actually be physically produced through 3D printing or another applicable manufacturing technique.
Depending on the model you are working with, it may require some additional adjustments before it is complete. This process is relatively straightforward to perform, so keep following along for the best results.
If your object is intricate or complicated, it is possible that it may not be completely manifold. To make sure of this, you should take the following steps to verify:
- Choose the item you want to inspect
- To make the toolbar visible, use the N key
- Choose the section titled “3D Printing Toolbox”
- Choose “Check All” by clicking
- Check the outcomes and make sure the Non-Manifold Edge shows a 0
If so, then your 3D model is prepared to be exported as an STL file for use with your slicer software. However, you may observe a number above 0 when doing this. To correct this issue and make sure your model prints correctly, read on for further instructions.
Method 1 for Fixing a Non-Manifold Model
Beginning with the easiest solution, Blender offers a built-in tool to repair non-manifold models. This feature can be found right next to the Check All button (previously mentioned in earlier sections). Once you locate it, click on the Clean Up section, and proceed to follow these steps:
- Choose a model
- The Clean-Up section should be opened
- Choose Make Manifold
Even though this technique should be effective on all versions of Blender, there is a slight drawback to using it as it could potentially cause damage to your 3D object. If this happens, fortunately, there is an alternative method available that may help you avoid such problems.
Method 2 For Fixing a Non-Manifold Model
Instead of using Blender, we can utilize an external application named 3D Builder, created by Microsoft. This software is available for Windows 8 and 10 users. To begin, you must download and install the program on your device. Afterward, launch the application and open your model file. Finally, proceed with these steps to complete your project:
- Go to Open > Open Object in the menu
- Go to the location of your 3D model on your computer
- Choose Import Model
The 3D Builder software will inform you of any errors that may be present, with helpful pop-up box notifications that tell you how to resolve them. If you follow the instructions provided by these notifications, your 3D model should now be manifold and have all its components connected correctly.
As a supplementary point, when using 3D Builder, it is possible to alter the model’s form to make it manifold. Despite this, the model will still be much neater and these modifications are to be expected to make it more suitable for printing.
4. Add a Slicer to Your Model
For the last step, we must export the model from Blender and then import it into a slicer. This type of software is designed to convert the model into Gcode – a set of printing instructions for 3D printers composed of both G and M commands assigned specific actions.
In other words, it is the language used to instruct a machine on moving and manipulating parts to effectuate a desired output. These instructions, composed within slicer software, may include user-specified parameters such as print speed and support structure, which can be tailored according to the given project’s needs.
Before being able to import the model into a slicer, it is necessary first to export it as an STL file. This acronym stands for either “Standard Tessellation Language” or “Standard Triangle Language.” Both phrases describe the exact surface geometry of any 3D object in great detail. Consequently, exporting an object as STL format will facilitate its compatibility with various slicing tools.
They cannot be printed directly from Blender, so exporting the object as an STL file is necessary. To do this, open Blender and navigate to the File menu at the top of your screen. Select Export and then Stl (.stl) from the drop-down list. After that, you can print your object using a 3D printer.
Next, you can take the 3D model that you created and import it into a slicing software like Cura. This process is straightforward as all you need to do is drag and drop your model into the program, and it will appear on the screen ready to be sliced up for printing.
You can start a 3D print once your model is in a slicer.
Time to Blend!
In this article, we have detailed how to make your 3D model ready for 3D printing using Blender. We also outlined a few techniques that can be used to ensure that the model is manifold and can be imported into a slicer program. If you want to create a 3D object for printing, refer back to this guide, as it will provide you with the necessary information on how best to prepare your model.
As 3D printing technology continues to evolve, mastering Blender’s capabilities will undoubtedly be an invaluable skill for enthusiasts and professionals alike.