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)

How a 3D printer works

A 3D printer needs to take a description of a three-dimensional object and turn it into a physical object. Like Blender, a 3D printer uses values along the X, Y, and Z axes to determine the shape of an object. But where Blender sees an object as perhaps cylinders, spheres, cubes, or edges and faces, a 3D printer is all about layers and perimeters.

First, a slicing program opens the object file that you made and it slices the object into vertical layers as seen in the following screenshot:

Then, each layer is printed out one by one in a growing stack as seen in the following screenshot:

But you can get a better idea of how these layers stack up if you can see it interactively. I have provided an interactive illustration that allows you to see the dragon slice by slice. Scrolling through the frames, you can see how the walls of the dragon's body are built:

  1. Open up 4597OS_01_LayersDisplay.blend in your download packet. Examine the thickness of the body at each layer.

  2. Press Alt + A to play the animation. Press Esc to stop playing it.

  3. You can also drag the current time indicator in the timeline back and forth to look at individual frames, or use the right and left arrow keys.

Note how the dragon starts as a series of islands. Look at the dragon's hands. The fingers start off floating in space until they are joined to the arms.

The exact method a 3D printer uses to print a layer varies. Some printers work like a pencil, drawing an outline of the shape on that layer and then filling in the shape with cross-hatching. Look at the left side of the preceding screenshot again.

The printer would first outline the tail, then fill it in. Next, it would move to one haunch, outline it, and fill it in, and then the other. And finally, it would outline and fill each foot. You can get a better idea of how this happens with this 3D printer's hot end simulator. The hot end is the printer's nozzle where the 3D printing material is extruded.


Open 4597_01_HotEnd.blend and follow the instructions shown there.

Other printers may use a print head much like an inkjet printer. The print head moves across the printing bed and deposits material where needed.


Downloading the example code

You can download the example code files for all Packt books you have purchased from your account at If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit and register to have the files e-mailed directly to you.