How is Blender evolving with regard to 3D printing?

Has Blender gotten better for 3D printing in its latest iterations?

Google tells me it’s not the best for precise printing, but those posts are mostly old.

I wonder if the Blender Foundation has its eye on 3D printing applications…

Any news/insights?

Seems a 3D printer would be a pretty cool toy to have & I might get one in the (far) future. Would be sweet if I could combine my Blender learning into that hobby…

i use blender mostly for 3d-printing.
why is there supposed to be a problem with precise printing?
blender is no CAD program but of course you can also work with it very accurately (sometimes it requires different approaches).
also it’s not like the common affordable 3d-printers are so extremely accurate that blender couldn’t handle it. those printers aren’t the same as ultra expensive CNC machining tools or something…

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It depends entirely what you’re modelling, and printing. For more organic models, Blender is perfect. For high precision CAD modelling? No…It’s possible, but the tools don’t quite exist to make it easy. For that, you should use something like Fusion360 which is also free.

I’ve printed many things from Blender, and they always come out great, even from high poly parts. Most of the ‘precision’ comes from the printer itself rather than the programme used.

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Let’s say I wanted to print a frame to snap a round mirror into. If I knew the mirror was 6 inches across, is that kind of printing possible with Blender?

…Or let’s say I wanted to make a custom bobble head… Possible with Blender?

Yes to both.
For the first one, all you really need to do is go into your scene settings on the right hand side, and select what measurement units you want to use.

I have mine set to Metric and mm because that’s what I use where I live. For Inches, you just switch to Imperial I think, and then change the length option to Inches. You also want to make sure it’s the Dimensions that you change and not the scale Scale should always be 1.

A circle mirror is a pretty simple shape. All you’d need to do is add a circle to your scene with a diameter of 6 inches, and then model around that shape. The precision would come from your printer. So you’d need to see what your printers tolerances are like. My printer, for example, has a tolerance of around .5mm. So if I have a hole for a 3mm screw for example, I’d make the hole 3.5mm. That’s the same in Blender or CAD. Things like Subsurf though, can affect the measurements, so be careful. If I’m using subsurf, and an item has a hole, I’ll generally add another circle snapped to my hole, with a higher poly count (32 verts perhaps) set to the size I want. That way, if my hole with subsurf shrinks a little, I can’ scale it back outwards until it lines up with my untouched, accurately dimensioned circle. Make sense?

It obviously depends on the design of the mirror frame you’re going for. But in CAD, it can be done in about 30 seconds. In Blender, it’s not going to be drastically different, though the tool-set is quite different.

A bobble head would work in much the same way. I’d just start by adding a cube, and making it the rough height, width and depth of your bobble head design. I’d then then just model next to that cube, and use it as a rough scale reference.

It’s also about preference, and the tools you best know how to utilise. Myself, I’d absolutely use a CAD program like Fusion360 for a simple mirror frame. It’s super quick, and making things to exact measurements is slightly easier I’d say. For a bobble head, I’d model it in Blender. Perhaps the bobble mechanism could be a separate piece done in CAD, but it’s just a spring on a piece of plastic, right? Not overly difficult to model.

But as I say…the most important thing is actually the printer itself, and how well it prints. I know my printers well enough now, that I can make tolerances between fitting parts by eye, especially if working in Blender.

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Thanks for the detail.

One major thing I like about Blender is its versatility. One program/many uses. It’s taking me long enough to reach a point where I’m comfortable with Blender, :grin: so I’d rather skip learning other 3D programs (like CAD) if I can.

Good to know my Blender studies will be useful when I get into 3D printing.:+1:

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Mmmm… no, you want to be learning different programs. You won’t always have a choice of which program to use, and even when you do the right tool for the job is sometimes a scalpel and not a multi-tool. Be adaptable, and be able to pick the best tool for the job, even if it’s not your favorite.

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There are users here on blender artists who have made interesting giant #3d-printing projects with blender…

take a look at the pictures

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Wow – that’s interesting stuff …

This one is amazing –

That guy does incredible 3D art in general. https://www.danielgava.com/

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fusion360 is a powerful tool of course. but i wouldn’t really recommend it. you are kind of trapped in their cloud and never know if/when they will change their terms of services,… it potentially is a huge waste of time.

the really free (as in speech) solutions always feel better to me. :slight_smile: openscad, freecad,…

i also like blender’s versatility. besides simply modeling and then printing, i can also animate, simulate, visualize stuff before printing… i like that a lot.

i prefer making the holes a bit to small and then using a drill. :slight_smile:

and i am a huge fan of captive nuts:



it’s so easy with 3d-printing. :slight_smile:

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I’ll admit, I prefer using OpenSCAD, it’s always manifold and tweakable up and down the entire stack and less distracting. Do miss having simple lofting commands…

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I modeled my 3d printer carriage, I had to remodel it 3 times to be able to make a functional prototype :sweat_smile:

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All done in Blender?