Learn 3D Graphics

3D Printing

Learn the basics of 3D Printing in Blender.

3D Printers print from the bottom up.

  1. Create a new "general" file in Blender
  2. Delete the lamp and camera
  3. Delete the cube if not using it as a starting point
  4. Change the length unit in Scene Properties from "Meters" to "Millimeters"
  • Keep faces to quads (groups of 4 vertices)
  • Make sure the mesh is a closed shape (mani-fold)
    1. Close any gaps by creating faces
    2. Or use the solidy modifer to add thickness (faces themselves have no thickness)
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      1. In the properties panel, go to the modifiers The example image is missing
      2. Under generate, choose "Solidify" The example image is missing
      3. Increase the thickness value The example image is missing
      4. Apply the modifier in Object mode to actually generate the geometry The example image is missing
  • Avoid areas of exreme overhang (greater than 60°)
  • Avoid overlapping faces

If using multiple mesh objects to create a single printed object, the objects must be joined together without any intersecting faces.

The best way to do this is to delete any faces where the 2 objects meet and merge together the corresponding vertices from object to object - like we did to join the creature's hand to it's arm way back in the day.

For a faster approach (though with imperfect geometry), try combining objects with the boolean modifer.

As you are building the mesh, periodically run the "3D Printing Toolbox Checks" to avoid printing issues. Fixing the problems as they occur saves time in the long run.

  1. In the Edit menu, open "Preferences" The example image is missing
  2. Go to the "Add-ons" tab and search for "print"
  3. Check the "3DPrint Toolbox" add-on to enable it The example image is missing
  1. Select the object to be printed
  2. Open the "N-panel" by pressing "N"
  3. Switch to the "3D-Print tab" The example image is missing
  4. Run "Check All"
    • Errors will display in the lower half of the n-panel
    • In Edit mode, click on an error to see the problem faces highlighted
  1. Non-manifold edges - there are holes in the mesh
    1. Use "Merge by Distance" (M)
    2. Fill in the gap by making your own faces (always stick to quads whenever possible, tris if not)
  2. Bad Contiguous edges - faces are going opposite directions
    1. In "Edit mode", select all (A)
    2. Recalculate normals (Opt+N | Alt+N) → Recalculate Outside
    3. If there are still faces going different directions, select the problem faces and flip the normals (Opt+N | Alt+N → Flip)
  3. Intersecting faces - faces go through each other
    1. Delete the intersecting faces
    2. Recreate the faces (always stick to quads whenever possible, tris if not)
  4. Zero Faces - faces are too small
    1. Select the whole mesh and make it larger
    2. Apply the change in scale (CMD|CTRl + A) in Object mode
    3. Run the check again
  5. Zero Edges - edges are too small
    1. Select the whole mesh and make it larger
    2. Apply the change in scale (CMD|CTRl + A) in Object mode
    3. Run the check again
  6. Non-flat faces - faces are not flat, usually caused by n-gons
      1. Select all the faces (A)
      2. Triangulate the faces (Ctrl+T)
    • Use Limited Dissolve on the non-flat faces (Mesh → Cleanup → "Limited Dissolve")
    • Or delete the faces and remake them using quads or tris instead of n-gons
  7. Thin faces - area is too thin
  8. Sharp faces - faces that are too pointy to print as intended
    • Try increasing the scale
    • Or round off the point
  9. Overhanging faces - faces that are at too extreme an angle for the printer to successfully print (the bottom of the model always has overhanging faces - as long as those faces make a flat surface, they will not be a problem)
    1. Are the overhanging faces the flat, bottom surface of the mesh? These always count as overhanging and is the only area you can ignore the warning
    2. For other overhanging faces:
      • Adjust the loops/vertices as needed to make a less extreme angle
      • Try rotating the mesh to print from a different side

For 3D printing, export into the .STL format, which is readable by most 3D printers.

Before runnning the print, the model needs to be "sliced" to divide up the model into printable layers, so that the printer will know how to print the model. Most 3D printers come with their own slicing software.

  1. If the 3DWOX Desktop, is not already installed on the computer, download the DMG file from the shared class folder
    1. In Finder, use the "Go" menu and "Connect to Server"
    2. Change the address from "smb://abfs01" (or etc.) to "smb://abarchive"
    3. Choose "Connect" and then select the 3D Graphics folder and choose "OK"
    4. Drag and drop the printer DMG to your Desktop or etc.
    5. Double-click on the DMG to open and run the installation process
  2. Open 3DWOX Desktop
  3. Choose Printer "DP200"
  4. hange Mode to "Advanced" in the Mode menu
  5. Press the "Load" button on the left sidebar
  6. Select the STL file and choose "Open"
  1. Use the middle section of toolbar on the right to:
    • Adjust model location
    • Adjust model size
    • Adjust model rotation
  2. In the left sidebar, open "Settings" and change:
    • Quality → Layer height to .30 (only if needed to speed up printing time)
    • Media → Temperature to 217 for PLA
    • Supports → leave supports set to none unless your model clearly needs additional support to be printable (in that case, choose "Touching Buildplate")
    • Raft → Leave raft turned on - otherwise there are bed adhesion issues which result in either a failed print or messy base
    • Infill → Change infill to "Crystal 2" (only if needed to speed up printing time - this is faster but weaker)

The third icon down in the right sidebar changs the mode to the "Layer Viewer". This automatically "slices" the model into printable layers. When the model is sliced and the "Layer Viewer Mode" is active, edits to position/rotation/scale are all disabled.

Information about the print time and how many meters of filament are needed, display on the top right.

Ideally print times should be 50min or less so that they can print within a class period. At the most, the print should take 1hr and 30min or so.

  1. Click on the "Layer Viewer" button to slice the model
  2. Drag the vertical dial in the bottom third of the right sidebar to see the layers the model will print in
  3. If printing the model will take too long:
    • Make the model smaller (for now, delete the model and reload to make size changes after slicing)
    • Increase the layer height
    • Change the infill type (Crystal 2 is fastest but all weakest)
  4. Return to the "Layer Viewer" mode to re-slice the model and see the changes to the print time

Prints can be sent to the printer through the connected desktop or by connecting a thumb drive directly to the printer.

The printer prints with a plastic material called filament. There are two types of filament that the Sindoh printer can use - PLA and ABS. The 2 filament types require different printing temperatures, so it is always important that the printer is told which filament type to use.

Filament can be loaded into the printer with proprietary cartridges. Our specific printer has a special setup to load without the cartridge to allow for a greater variety of filament roll sizes. Either way, only one color can be printed at a time.

To prevent jamming issues, the filament is only loaded before printing and removed when printing is finished.

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The build plate must be level when printing so that the print adheres properly during the printing process. If the plate is not level, the print may end up sliding around or end up with messy sections due to a lack of expected support. Always run a level check before printing to prevent issues.

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Prints should be removed from the printer as soon as possible → sometimes they can stick to the build plate. The print plate should be removed from the printer first and then the model can be scraped up carefully with a thin sturdy instrument such as a palette knife or putty knife.

Before the print plate is returned to the printer, any remaining fillament must be scraped off. The plate should be wiped cleaned with rubbing alcohol. This minimizes adhesion issues for the next print.

To keep the printer running smoothly, filament should not be left loaded in the printer when it is not running.