Book Image

Blender 3D Printing Essentials

Book Image

Blender 3D Printing Essentials

Overview of this book

Like computing, 3D printing has been around for decades but it was expensive and was only used for making complex prototypes. Now, prices have dropped and third-party printing services such as Shapeways have become available, making the technology available to everyone.Blender is an open source modeling and animation program popular in the 3D printing community. 3D printing demands more of a modeler than animation or virtual reality. The model maker must engineer their model to work in the real world. They must keep in mind the particular needs of the materials and printers that they are planning to use to print their model. This practical guide gives Blender users all the information they need to design high-quality 3D printed objects. With a solid exploration of the 3D modeling process, design considerations for 3D printing, plus step-by-step exercises, you will soon be comfortable making 3D objects for real-world enjoyment. Starting with an overview of 3D printing, this guide moves onto to precision measurement, fixing problems in a 3D model, and how to make it light and strong enough for real-world use.You will learn how to scale, build, and detail a model for a 3D printer. You will learn to color and decorate it, as well as making parts precisely in the size you want them, so that multi-part objects fit together smoothly. You will also learn tips on saving money when you have printed your model.With the help of this guide, you will be able to complete your project and learn how to export the file so it is ready for a variety of 3D printers.
Table of Contents (12 chapters)

Opportunities to use your 3D printer

3D printing is not the correct way to make everything. If you need to make a lot of copies of an object, 3D printing is too slow. 3D printing is also expensive. You have a limited choice of materials. You have limits on the size of objects and the quality of the objects you can make.

For example, think about making a bicycle completely with 3D printing. While I am writing this, it's impossible. The tires alone are impossible, with rubber, thread, and steel cords; the process is too complex for today's 3D printers. The size of the bike frame is still too large for almost all 3D printers; carbon fiber frames cannot be printed directly, titanium frames are very expensive, and the quality of steel you would be able to use in a 3D printer may not be right for a durable bike.

At the same time, you could easily make custom lugs to hold the frame together, custom light mounts, shifters, and water bottle racks. 3D printing can be used to create the mold for carbon fiber lugs or even a mold for a carbon fiber frame.

3D printing is best used for making prototypes and custom objects. As an exercise, I looked around to see what kinds of things I'd want to use 3D printing for. I came up with the following things:

  • Water bottle holder for my recumbent bicycle's oval-shaped frame

  • A clip that would let me mount my hydration pack to my recumbent bike and hold the hose securely next to my shirt, yet be convenient to move so I can drink from it, and it detaches easily in case of an accident

  • Replacement for the plastic table clamp of an old Luxo lamp

  • Replacement plastic foot for a camera tripod

  • Extension for my mouse to make it large enough for my hand

  • 3D-printed business cards

  • Z-shaped key for an antique Chinese brass lock that had accidentally got latched, and for which there was no key. As seen in the following image, the new key was simple to make in 3D printing but difficult to make otherwise:

I'm sure that you have your own list. The great part about 3D printers is that they can make any shape you need, and they do it in a reasonable time at a reasonable cost. That's amazingly powerful. Look at the catalogs of the services linked later if you need more ideas.

You may want to use 3D printing as a part of a business. You could make prototypes of mechanical parts and objects architectural or theatrical stage models. You can sell what you make, such as jewelry, fantasy figurines, a smart phone case, custom coffee cups or vases, cookie molds in the shape of a cat, or whatever you think of.

3D printing is just getting started, so there is no telling how far it will go. A company named Made in Space is designing a 3D printer for use in zero gravity. They see that it will be far more efficient for many space-based repairs to just make parts up there, rather than having to carry a large number of spare parts into orbit. The OpenLuna Foundation is using 3D printing to build a model of their proposed lunar lander to show potential investors. Being able to touch and hold something is a powerful influencer in making a sale: