Blender is a 3D creation suite used by beginners, professionals, and enthusiasts for 3D modeling, animation, motion graphics, illustration, and more. While Blender was originally designed for animation, it is still possible to make your models 3D printable. If that’s something you want to do, follow this tutorial.
Before you start, make sure you have the latest version of Blender installed and take a look at the Blender 3.0 keyboard shortcuts.
Here are some of the handiest Blender shortcuts you should know:
- Tongue: Tap it when you need to enter Edit mode.
- G: Allows you to move the vertices or the model.
- Shift + F: Allows you to fill a space between the vertices you have selected.
- S Where S+X,Y, Where Z: Scales the object on the X, Y, or Z axis accordingly.
To enable the 3D Printing Toolkit add-on, follow these steps:
- Move towards Edit > Preferences.
- Click on the Additional modules tongue.
- Search the 3D printing toolkit.
These will add a useful tool that we need to prepare your model for a smooth and successful 3D printing process.
2. Prepare your 3D model
Perhaps you already have a pre-existing 3D model in mind. Otherwise, there are plenty of free models available on sites like Thingiverse or Cults 3D. However, not all of them are designed for 3D printing. That said, you might want to create your own 3D model in Blender.
If you’re new to Blender, be sure to check out our guides on how to group objects and merge objects, as well as simple 3D models for Blender beginners.
3. Collect the 3D model
Once you have a model ready, there is one very important thing to keep in mind now. Your model should be a solid, filled object. This means that no missing vertices or holes exist on your model.
In other words, this 3D model must be multiple. For a model to be multiple, it must be enclosed in a space that can exist in real life. That is, the exterior geometry is something that can actually be 3D printed.
So, depending on your model, it may need some final tweaking. This process is quite simple, keep following.
If your object is complex, it may not be perfectly multiple. Let’s check this; Follow these steps:
- Select the object you want to check.
- press the NOT button to make the toolbar visible.
- Select the 3D printing toolkit section.
- Click on the check everything button.
- Review the results making sure that Non-collecting edge display a 0.
If so, your model is ready to be exported as an STL file for your cutting software. But it may show a number greater than 0. Read on to fix this problem…
Correcting a non-multiple model: Method 1
Let’s start with the easiest way to fix a non-multiple pattern. We can use Blender’s built-in cleanup tool. You can find it right next to the check everything button as shown in the previous section. You will find there a To clean section. Follow the steps below:
- Select your model.
- Open the To clean section.
- To select Make a Collector.
This should also work on older versions of Blender. There is a slight downside to this approach, in that it could possibly mess up your 3D model. If so, there is another way…
Correcting a non-multiple model: method 2
Instead of using Blender, we can use an external application called Microsoft’s 3D Builder. It is available on Windows 8 and 10. After downloading and installing 3D Builder, open the program and import your model. Then follow the steps below:
- Move towards Open > Open object.
- Access your 3D model wherever it is saved on your computer.
- Click on Import model.
The 3D Builder software will let you know if there are any errors, with pop-up notifications suggesting how you can fix them. After completing the requested steps, the 3D model should now be multiple.
As a side note, when using 3D Builder, the shape of the model can be changed to make it multiple. However, it remains much cleaner and these modifications are normal to make it more printable.
4. Import your model into a slicer
For the last step, we will need to export the model from Blender and import it into a slicer. A slicer is software that will convert the model into printing instructions for a 3D printer; this set of instructions is called Gcode. Specifically, it contains G and M commands, each with an assigned action.
In other words, it is the language used to tell the machine how to move parts or what pattern to follow to create the impression. These instructions may also contain user-chosen parameters such as print speed and support structure; all of this can be done in the slicer software.
Before we can import the model into a slicer, we need to export it as an STL file. STL stands for “Standard Tessellation Language” or “Standard Triangle Language”, and describes the surface geometry of a 3D object. They cannot be printed by themselves. So let’s go ahead and export the object as an STL file by navigating to File > Export > Stl (.stl) in Blender.
Then import it into slicing software, such as Cura. In Cura you can just drag and drop your model into it and the model will appear as shown in the image above.
Once you have your model in a slicer, you can go ahead and 3D print it. Be sure to check out our guide to the best Cura plugins that will make 3D printing more reliable and convenient.
Create your own 3D printable models in Blender
In this article, we saw how you can prepare your 3D model for printing in Blender. We’ve also shown you a few ways to create your 3D model collector and then import it into a slicer program. Refer to this guide if you want to make a model for 3D printing.
Getting Started with Blender: 8 Fantastic Tutorials for Beginners
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