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Often when preparing a file for 3D printing, you may use multiple 3D modeling programs. It’s common to create the base of the file in another program and then import it to Blender to add more details
Importing by Default
Blender supports the following filetypes for import:
Files with texture and meshes:
Files with mesh information:
Note: an .svg can be file can be used in the same manner shown in the section dedicated to text and curves.
Add Importable Filetypes with Addons
It’s possible to add more importable filetypes (such as .directX, .lwo, or .dxf for example) by using Addons.
To activate these Addons, open user preferences (Ctrl+Alt+U) and choose the
Importing with Blender
Files created in other programs often do not have the correct scale information. In this example, the file needed to be rescaled to 0.1.
MeshAnalysis is used to display problems with a Mesh. This tool only works in Edit mode and displays the problems a range of Blue (for lower values) or red (for higher values). If there are problems to be fixed,
This display mode shows the overhang according to the axis of the base. In this example, there are no corrections to make. This tool is very useful to define which part of an object will be the base of a ceramic 3D print or with objects that must have a clearly defined base.
This mode displays the intersection of faces.
This mode can display the parts of your model that are thinner than a predetermined thickness.
Displays the irregular Quads or Ngons faces (faces with more than four edges) that will cause a problematic conversion to triangles.
Displays the edges which create a side that is too thin (similar to Thickness).
PrintTool Box Addon
To learn how to activate this Addon head over to the preceding section that explains “Activating
This Addon can be accessed by tapping ’T’ on the 3D viewer, this Addon provides a couple extra features that are not included with MeshAnalysis. It has the advantage of directly selecting the areas that pose problems and possesses finer analysis tools. This tool also has the advantage of working in wireframe mode with activated Modifiers. In edit mode, simply enter the desired settings and click “Check all”. The tool will detect any problems and provide a general error report.
Example: for parts of a human character, the PrintTool Box add-on will select the exact parts of the model that need to be fixed.
The use of these tools can detect potential problems for printing on a 3D Mesh. However, following the rules listed in the “basics tips to meet to design a printable model”, will avoid most of these problems.
Export for a monochrome 3D print
The most common format for a printable monochrome 3D model is .stl (Stereolithography).
Select the folder where you’d like the file to be exported and check the boxes of the modifiers you’d like to use. Name the file then export.
Export for a multicolor 3D print
The most common format for a printable multicolor 3D model is .obj, as it defines both the geometry and is accompanied with the textures whose location is defined on the model using
For the multicolor information to be interpreted, an image file must be included with the file, which will be used as the texture of the 3d model.
To export a 3D model as
In the exporting options, choose “selection only” and choose “copy” in path mode. This will ensure that all of the files you’ll need to for a successful multicolor 3D print will be included in the location you’re creating. After that, name the file and click “Export OBJ”.
The Collada format can be a good alternative to .obj if you have problems during the export. With .dae files, the UV mapping texture and material geometry information are included in the file. As for .obj files, texture files are needed and they need to be zipped with the .dae file. The difference is that there is no need to add a .mtl file.
To export in .dae choose the model you’d like to export and go to File / Export / Collada.
In the export options, choose “selection only” and choose “copy” in path mode. This will ensure that all of the files you’ll need for a successful multicolor 3D print will be included in the location you’re creating it. After that, name the file and click “Export COLLADA”.