SpaceClaim Tutorial: 3D Modeling for 3D printing with SpaceClaim


1. Model for 3D Printing with SpaceClaim

The first thing to be careful of is minimal thickness. Each material has a minimum flexible thickness and a minimum rigid thickness. You can retrieve the full printing guidelines for each material on our material page. 
In our example here, we create a 2mm thick arch which is the minimum rigid thickness of our plastic material. To do so, we first draw an arc.


Then we pull it to create a surface.


Finally, we pull the surface to obtain a volume. 


The next good habit for modeling in Spaceclaim is to associate one solid with one component. Otherwise SpaceClaim is going to combine the solids that are inside a same component. This would make it impossible to come back later to change things.


To create a new component, right click anywhere in the structure tab and hit New Component. You can then drag and drop solids in the newly created component.


It is important to be careful not to create intersecting objects. In our example, we see that the top of the bridge is intersecting the arch. If you want to 3D print this model in its current state, the 3D printer is very likely to encounter problems.


The Combine tool can solve this issue. By hitting Combine in the Intersect section, choosing a target and a cutter object, you can remove the intersecting parts.

SpaceClaim-08- Intersecting_objects.jpg

The intersecting part has been removed.


A typical error is to create non manifold components. non manifold component is basically something that you can model in digital space but can not exist in real world objects. Surfaces with zero volume are one thing to be avoided but other types of problem exist. 

In our example, we create a car that looks solid by drawing 4 square wheels and pulling a form for the body. What we can see here is that SpaceClaim does not combine the solids in the structure panel because there is no physical link between the solids. If we zoom in, we realize that the wheels are linked to the body only by edges which is not possible in real life. 


By pulling the body down, we make it a manifold solid and SpaceClaim combines the remaining solids automatically since they are part of the same component.


It is important to be careful not to create intersecting objects. In our example, we see that the top of the bridge is intersecting the arch. If you want to 3D print this model in its current state, the 3D printer is very likely to encounter problems.


We add a stand to this bridge so we can put it on a desk and add some text to it.


The stand is quite a big solid that is going to require a lot of material, which means it’s going to cost more. In order to avoid that, we can hollow the stand or “shell” it with two options:

               1- Shell the body fully by clicking on the solid with the shelling tool and then creating big enough holes so we can remove the powder from inside. The bigger the holes are, the better.
               2- Shell the object and remove the bottom face by clicking on it. This is the most economical option but is not always possible.
To make it look cooler, we are going to add some text.
 First, we print the text on the desired face with the Note tool in the detail tab.
Then, we select the curves corresponding to the text and we project it on the face with the “project on sketch” tool in the design tab, sketch section.
SpaceClaim-17-Text _V5ebkHQ.jpg
You can retrieve the full text solidity guidelines on our website but for plastic, the minimal thickness is 0.5 mm with a text as wide as it is thick. 
The last feature we would like to showcase is the possibility to create interlocking parts which is something that makes 3D printing amazing! 
We are basically creating a sphere inside a box.  So we create a box with holes and use the insert sphere tool in the insert tab to create a sphere of the desired size.
Then, we use the move tools to put the sphere inside the box. We make sure sure that the sphere is inside the box with a section view and leave some space between the sphere and the wall, at least 0.5 mm, to make sure that the ball will move freely. 
Combining solids is the most important remaining step. In order to have a 3D printable file, each printed object must be in a separate component, forming only one solid. 
A good habit is to save a version with the separate components to be able to work on it again and one printing version with only as many solids as there will be printed objects. 
Here, we must have two separate components in the end: the sphere and the rest of the bridge. 
We are combining parts that are in contact one by one by using the Combine tool. It works fine for the stand and the arch.
But the support can not be merged with them.
It is due to the fact that the support is flat while the arch is curved which means that these two objects are not in contact. This is why they can’t be merged together. 
We solve this issue by pulling  the support up to the arch and using the combine tool again. We keep combining solids and delete useless components until we have only one main body and the sphere.  
Our object is theoretically ready to be 3D printed but we are going to use the STL editing tools to check the mesh and have more control over it.