3D Printing and Design in Blender

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Use Blender 3D to design a 3D shape and then print it with an Afinia 3D printer.

First, we will design a simple 3D model, using basic shape primitives like spheres, cubes and cones. The shapes can be scaled and rotated to fit precise dimensions. Then, we use geometric boolean operations to combine the basic shapes into more complex ones. We will also show how to add text to a 3D model. Design and Modeling will be done with the free and open-source Blender 3D software. We will also use the 3D printing toolbox plugin for Blender. This allows us to output an STL file. This STL file can be sent to a 3D printing service like Shapeways or printed on your own 3D printer. We will make prints in ABS plastic, hot-swapping colors, to make multi-colored objects. At LucidTronix, we use the Afinia H-Series 3D printer. This tutorial focusses on using Blender for 3D printing, if you want a basic introduction to Blender in general checkout this tutorial from Udemy.

3D Cases

So many 3D models!

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 0 Download Blender and the 3D Printing Toolbox

Download Blender 3D and make sure you have the 3D Printing Toolbox addon enabled. Blender has a bit of a steep learning curve and the interface may seem counter-intuitive at first, but it is a really powerful, and for a free and open-source software package it is hard to complain. I would say Blender's greatest strength is that it can do such a wide variety of 3D modeling tasks and its greatest weakness is that it can do SUCH a wide variety of 3D modeling tasks (it becomes hard to do the one simple thing you might desire). Anyway, this tutorial assumes you know basic slection and manipulation in Blender so you might want to start with one of the tutorials here.

Step 1 Set Dimensions

You probably want to set the dimensions of your scene to imperial or metric if you want your 3d object to have a precise size. As the katsbit tutorial explains "Blender 3D and its system-wide measurement settings are part of the applications "Properties" options, the panel that runs down the right hand side. Clicking the second button along from the left, "Scene", opens the general options applicable to a 'scene' being worked on, including the necessary measurement related settings which are available within the "Units" sub-section. Here are the three sub-systems select and activate one by clicking the buttons titled "None" (default), "Metric" and "Imperial"

Step 2 Start Building

Blender opens up with a cube in the scene. You can work with this cube or delete by selecting it and then pressing 'x'. We are going to build a complex shape up from simpler primitive shapes. Blender supplies several simple shapes that we can insert into to our model in the Add drop-down menu. Here we select an icosphere under Add > Mesh > Icosphere.

Step 3 Add a Shape

Now we add a cone under Add > Mesh > Cone. We position it above and overlapping with our sphere, as shown in the image.

Step 4 Merge the Shapes by Adding a Modifier

We now want to merge the cone and the sphere together to get something like an upside down ice cream cone. Select the wrench icon from the properties menu. Then click on the Add Modifier button and select Boolean as shown in the image.

Step 5 Union

Select the Union operation from the boolean drop down menu and then select Icosphere under the object drop down menu. Then click apply.

Step 6 Scale and Rotate

Under the Transform menu, we scaled our ice cream cone shape to 15m x 15m x 10m. Then we add a cylinder (Add > Mesh > Cylinder), which we will use to make a sort of tunnel through our ice cream cone. Once The cylinder is rotated, scaled and position correctly, we will use the differnce Boolean operation to take it away.

Step 7 Boolean Difference Operation

Select the shape you want to remove the cylinder from. Now select the wrench modifier panel and then add a boolean modifier again. This time, select difference as the operation and Cylinder as the object as shown in the image. Click apply.

Step 8 Ice Cream Cone Tunnel

Now the cone should have a cylinder hole going right through it like in the image.

Step 9 Export It

Now use the Print3D toolbox to export an STL file. Select an Export Path for where you want the STL file to be saved. Then click Export. If all goes well you will see a message in the top right corner saying Exported and then the name of your file.

Step 10 Load Model into the Afinia Software

Open up the Afinia 3D application and click the load button. Navigate to where your STL file was saved and select 'open'. The Auto Placement button will put your model right in the middle of the build platform, which is nice.

Step 11 Printing Options

Go to 3D Print > Print to open the printing dialog box. Click the the prefernces button to see all your options as shown in the image. The fill options determine how the inside of your model will be filled in. We often select big hole for prototypes so that we don't waste too much material if there's a problem. Z Resolution of .20mm is pretty fine, but very intricate designs you may want to go lower (and for coarser designs go higher). Quality we usually set to Normal. Make sure your Nozzle Height is set correctly and then press okay to Print!


    Thank you ___________________________
    Fri, Dec 02 2016 5:03AM
    Good recommendations!
    Fri, Dec 02 2016 5:02AM
    Good recommendations!
    Fri, Dec 02 2016 5:02AM
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