Turning real duplicates into linked duplicates

I have on my hands a high-poly model of an Abrams tank which I am trying to grind down to under 5k faces for use in a real-time simulation. The model was imported from .3ds. A very large portion of the model’s geometry is produced by the tread links. Although each link is identical in every way, each one is its own object with its own mesh (true duplicates, as produced by Shift-D). I’d like to retain the placement of these links, but join them all to a single mesh geometry (linked duplicates, as produced by Alt-D). That way, I could edit a single link to simplify all the links.

Is there any way to do this?

Ctrl-L >> Object Data. (also look at the Ctrl-C menu).


First, thank you for the advice. Had the situation been as I described it, that would be the full solution.

Unfortunately, it’s worse than that. I thought that the object centers for each link in the tread were positioned and oriented such that the relationship between each object center and its corresponding mesh was identical. As it turns out, every mesh is designed with respect to a center at the origin. When the objects are told to share mesh data, the result is many linked copies of the same tread link at the same position, which isn’t quite what I had in mind.

Is there a relatively painless way to move and re-orient the object centers such that each bears the same geometric relationship to its mesh? “Center New” gets me the appropriate positional data, but the orientation data is lost.

Best solution is probably parent them to a path:


In this thread there are some demo .blends by Gimble:


And in this thread is a framechanged script:



These are interesting tutorials, but not quite what I had in mind. I don’t need to move the track sections over time, as in an animation. Instead, I’d like to reorient their object centers to match the location and orientation of their corresponding meshes. Then I can link all the objects to the same mesh and have that mesh appear in the proper locations and orientations. The location part is easy: Centre New places the object centers at the corresponding mesh median points. However, the object centers are still oriented along the global axes, instead of turning to the orientation of their respective meshes. Is it possible to reorient an object center without rotating its corresponding mesh?

Aha, Ctrl-A (global), or Ctrl-C-Rotation with a dummy object active for local.