Category Archives: 3D Modeling

Blender and Bezier Curves for 3D Printing on SlideShare

The Northern Virginia Community College is working on a T-Shirt 3D Printer. They invited me to come by and show the students how they could use Blender and Bezier Curves to turn 2D ideas into simple 3D models for the T-Shirt Printer. I had an absolutely fantastic time, as I always do talking about 3D Printing. If you missed it, you can still follow along with my slides from SlideShare.

Cork Kitty Model on Thingiverse

Now that Maker Faire Nova is behind me, I am aiming to get my Upcycling models up and available to download for the community. This model preexisted my recent Maker Faire Nova efforts. I designed this Cork Kitty as a companion piece to EHM’s Cork Puppy back in the summer of 2015. They have been popular at Craft Fairs and black cats are particularly popular at Halloween.

Cork Kitties - Group

For me, I found the model to be an unintimidating way to ease into painting prints. The raised details of the face lend themselves well to painting. I find brushes geared for miniature painting to work well. I use Majestic Royal and Langnickel Short Handle Paint Brush Set, Detail, 11-Piece (Affiliate link).

I typically make the eyes green and the nose and ears pink. You can add paint to the whiskers. A dark grey looks particularly striking on black cats. I have done custom orders on Etsy where we mimick the markings to real cats.

I had a friend put a slice through the cork to hold labels describing all the dishes at a Halloween party.

Occoquan Craft Show - Eight Black Cork Kitties
A Friend Used a Set of Black Cats as Buffet Labels for a Halloween Pot Luck

Although they are made from wine corks, I have found them to have appeal to children. They love playing for them! Happy making!

IMG_20151212_135056884
Children Playing with Cork Kitties

P.S. If you don’t have access to a 3D Printer and covet a Cork Kitty, you can purchase one from me on Etsy.

Blender 3D Printing by Example – Published and On Sale!

Greetings All! Working with Packt, I wrote a project-based learning book to teach Blender for 3D Printing. It got published last week! I decided my return to YouTube should be called, “You Guys, I Wrote a Book!!!”.

The book walks through four separate projects to teach Blender tools and skills.

Profile Pendant

  • Background Images
  • Bezier Curves
  • Extrude
  • Boolean Union

Coordinate Bracelet

  • Standard Shapes
  • Mirror Modifier
  • Boolean Difference
  • Text

House Figurine

  • Loop Cut and Slide
  • Extrude
  • Inset
  • Subdivide
  • Array Modifier
  • Using SVGs
  • Boolean Intersection


Human Hand

  • Subdivision Surface Modifier
  • Topology Edits
  • Proportional Editing
  • Materials
  • UV Maps

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY MY BOOK! I am already very happy as is. If you do wish to have a copy, you can purchase the book on Amazon.

What’s next for me? I have a long list of videos I would like to make. I’ll be working on my proposal and projects for the MakerFaireNova on March 18, 2018. I will also be helping with the East Coast RepRap Festival which is looking like it will be in late June. Also don’t forget to check out the Friday Night 3D Printing Community Hangouts . I’ve been known to show up from time to time. ūüôā

Using Blender’s Particle Systems for 3D Printing

One of the things that gives Blender its reputation of having a large learning curve is it is geared towards animation. It has a lot of extra features or capabilities we don’t use for 3D Printing.

Or do we?

Homesick for the Appalachian Trail, I embarked on making rhododendron themed drawer pulls. It was a Blender animation feature helped me pull off my vision. I had never heard of “Particle Systems” before and with good cause. They are typically used for animating dust, smoke, water, and hair. Thanks to a wonderful tutorial video by Blender Facile, I learned how I could also use this feature to convert a single flower model into the trademark ball of flowers for the rhododendron.

My steps for using the Particular System were:

  1. First, I made a model of an individual flower. Thinking about how I wanted this to be sturdy for people to grab, I kept the petals thick and shallow.
    Individual Flower
  2. To convert my single flower into a ball of flowers, the first thing I did was add an Ico Sphere with 2 subdivisions to my Blender project.
    Create - Icosphere
  3. I went ahead and removed the bottom half of my Ico Sphere and gave it a flat bottom.
  4. Once I was satisfied with my Ico Sphere, I clicked on the Particle Systems icon
    PArticleSystems
  5. I clicked on New to create a new Particle System
    PArticleSystemsNew
  6. I changed Type to “Hair
    Type-Hair
  7. I checked the Advanced box which would allow me to change some rotation settings later
    ParticleSystem-Advanced
  8. Under the Emissions section, I clicked Verts.¬† This is telling Blender that each “hair” (aka flower) is going to be associated with a vertex in my model.¬† For Number, I put in 26.¬† This just happens to be the number of vertices in my modified Ico Sphere.ParticleSystem-Verts
    I also unchecked the Random box.
    ParticleSystem-UncheckRandom
  9. Under the Rotation section, I first checked Rotation and then for Initial Orientation, I picked Normal.¬† The system is going to rely on my Face normals (the direction my faces are)¬†to determine which way to rotate my “hairs”.
    ParticleSystem-RotationChecked-Normals
  10. Under the Render section, I picked Object and for Dupli Object, I selected the single Flower model I made.  And then my flowers appeared on my sphere.
    ParticleSystem-RotationChecked-AddObject
  11. Under the Render section, I checked Rotate and my flowers oriented themselves accordingly.
    ParticleSystem-RotationChecked-Check
  12. Since this is a feature geared towards animation, there is a large Physics section that really does not apply to my purposes.   The one thing I did play with was the Size.  By adjusting this setting, I was able to get my flowers to a size that provided some good coverage over the Ico Sphere.
    Size
  13. Once I was satisfied with all my settings, I clicked on the Modifiers icon and clicked on Convert.
    ParticleSystem-RotationChecked-ConvertParticles
  14. All of my “hairs” (aka flowers) became official objects in Blender.¬† I was able to click on each one and manipulate it like any other Blender object.¬† For example, I went ahead and rotated my bottom row of flowers to better achieve the look I was going for.
    Rotate Individual Flowers
Eureka!  I had my ball of flowers!  My modeling journey was far from over, but the hardest part about that journey was done, thanks to an animation feature I never thought I would need.

Tour of my 3D Printed Houses

Greetings! I am starting to build up quite a collection of 3D Printed buildings! Today I thought I would give you a little tour of them and my design process and share some of my design guidelines and tips.

I’m from Prince WIlliam County Virginia which is outside of Washington, DC. With the exception one gazebo from New York, all my buildings hail from Prince William County, Virginia and most of those right smack from my town, Occoquan. So far, I have

  • Mamie Davis Gazebo in Occoquan, Virginia
  • The National Museum of the United States Marine Corps from Quantico
  • Mill House Museum in Occoquan, Virginia
  • Rockledge Mansion from Occoquan Virginia
  • And then, a custom piece, My Old Neighbor’s House, Occoquan Virginia.

All of these I modeled in Blender and they all start with one thing.

Reference Images
I go out and take reference images. In the case of my neighbor’s house, the prints were a gift and I needed to exercise stealth, so I actually tromped through the woods to snag some pictures of the back of the house. In the case of the Rockledge Mansion, I emailed the home’s owner which allowed me to open up a dialogue with them and I scored an amazing tour of the outside and the inside on the mansion.

Front

If I needed to supplement my own images, I found Flickr and Google Streetview to be a great resource for finding images of the more famous buildings

And…. there were two cases, where I really needed an aerial view to really get a good grasp of the building. The National Museum of the United States Marine Corps is a great example of that. I had all these side images and I just still could not figure out the geometry of the building. Something wasn’t right. Google Earth to the rescue! The aerial image was the missing piece I needed and suddenly everything clicked together.

Google Earth FTW

Base Model
Blender does have the ability where I can create what’s called an Empty and import in an image. I can rotate these, scale them, make them translucent, so it is very helpful for me as I’m trying to get the proportions of my base shapes right.

Detailing
With the detailing, I have done it a very formal way where my windows and my doors are actually a part of the base model. I used a tool called Loop Cut and Slide to make segments in my house where I’m going to put my windows and doors and then I extrude and subdivide accordingly. What I’ve decided I preferred is do model these details as separate objects. I’ll have Window Model, a Door Model, a Light model, A Railing model. I rather enjoy how easy it is to copy and paste that way.

Tip – When you are doing separate models with your detailing (and you aren’t going to do formal Boolean Unions in Blender), you want to make sure they are exactly flush with the base house. At least in Simplify 3D, if there is overlap, Simplify 3D will leave gaps between the two objects– whereas if you have them lined up exactly, you can be super lazy in Blender and Simplify 3D will recognize them as objects that should be one and slice accordingly.

Detailing Design Guidelines
With my detailing, I tend to keep them 0.3mm – 0.5mm high. With my 0.35mm and 0.40mm nozzles, those “90 degree overhangs” have no trouble on my printers, don’t need supports and still render very well in the final print.

Detailing Tour – Windows
Like most things the window detailing is about 0.3mm – 0.5mm high. In my neighbor’s house, for example, the panes are 0.4mm high and then the shutters are another 0.1mm above that.

Window Sizing

Tip – Slice as you go
When I’m working with small details and I want to make sure they translate, one thing I do is slice as I go. A perfect example of this is window panes. My Mill House Museum, the windows came out fine on a Shapeways fancy Sand Stone Printer. When I went and printed it on my FFF printer, I noted the vertical panes were too thin so the printer didn’t bother with them. In subsequent models, I’ll preslice sections to see how it is going to look on my intended printer.

If you don’t slice as you go and you find some missing details, there are options. In Simplify3D, you can try to adjust Horizontal Size Compensation (It’s under the Other tab) to get a better slice.

Horizontal Size Compensation

Detailing Tour – Outdoor Lights, Bay Windows, Garage Overhangs
I modeled the light, but there was deviation from real life— if you look at it from the side, I taper the bottom up– I give it a nice 45 degree angle to help with the overhangs. I did the same thing with the Bay Window and also you’ll see a small triangular wedge between the car port and a screened in porch. This is just to give the printer some solid overhangs to work with.

Outdoor Lights

Detailing Tour – Railings
The biggest trick to the railings is coming up with the dimensions with the slats. I didn’t want something too delicate. I have found 0.65 – 0.85mm to work.

Railing Mrked U

And I reused through measurements on my neighbor’s house. I just got and pasted to get their detailing for their screened in porches.

Reusing Railings

Detailing Tour – Supporting Posts
When I got to my neighbor’s house, I had some posts that would be supporting an awning. I went ahead and increased that to be over 2mm thick on each side so there was more strength and stability.

Awning Posts

Detailing Tour – Awning Hack
And with the awnings, I wanted to print those without supports. What I ended up doing there is I had two small layers connecting the main house with the posts. My very own support beams. They were just 0.5mm high which meant my printer would print two layers for it. Then, the rest of the awning came in and bridging settings kicked with ample parts to “bridge to”

Awning Hack

Textures
There are other approaches you can do with textures. You can, for example, use a grey scale texture map and use the Distortion modifier. I have found that to be a little intensive on my machine resources and making it difficult to continue to the tweak the model.

Textures - Laying Out

I do have a few “textures” I add to these models — stonework, brickwork, shingles, and finally siding. These I believe are mostly 0.3mm high. The Stonework I did slightly as purist. I actually used Bezier Curves to trace out real stones from one of the historic buildings in my town (Note– there are many ways to skin this cat). For bricks, siding, and shingles, I modeled one piece and then used the Array Feature in Blender to make an entire sheet.

Remember with the Spinning Pokestop, I talked about the Power of Intersection? This is an example of that. By Duplicating key vertices and separating them, I would make a template of the part of the model I wanted texture for. Let’s take the front of my Rockledge Mansion. I wouldn’t want Stonework where the windows and doors were. So I make an object of just want I want textured.

Texturing Template

I put my textured piece, in this case, the Stonework in the middle of it and then I take an Intersetion. Viola! Texture.

Textures - Intersection

Texture Piece

And just like my other details, I make sure that is flush exactly with my base model, so it slices nice and fine in Simplify 3D.

Hack – Use Layer Lines To Your Advantage
I had been doing shingles for everything… until my very last model, my Neighbor’s House. I was doing a “Slice As You Go” and I noticed, the natural layer lines looked remarkably like shingles, so I rolled with it.

Layer Line Shingles - FinalLayer Line Shingles -Small

Making an SVG File 3D In Blender

Despite some earlier blog posts on the matter, I have become fond of using Inkscape to make SVG files for my 3D Models.¬† (My breakthrough came when I started saving as a “Plain SVG” format instead of an “Inkscape SVG” format).

I figured I should document my process at pulling and prepping those files in Blender.

  1. Import the SVG file.  File->Import->Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg)IMport SVG
  2. It looks like nothing happened, but your SVG is there.¬† It’s just really really really small.¬† If you look to the right in your Objects listing, you can see a new “Curve” that was not there before.
    SVG Tiny
  3. Resize the object so you can see it better.
    Resize
  4. Sometimes resizing it takes it off the screen and the Object’s Origin is not very intuitive¬† For that, I change the Object’s Origin to the Center of the Mass.¬† I do that by going to Object->Transform->Center of Mass
    Object Transform Origin to 3D Cursor
  5. Then I can change all the Transform coordinates to 0,0,0 to center my new SVG
    PUt ot 0 0 0
  6. SVGs pull in as Curves.¬† You’ll want to convert it to a Mesh before doing anything with it.¬† You can do that by going to Object->Convert to->Mesh from Curve/Meta/Serf/Text
    Convert To Mesh
  7. OPTIONAL – Get Rid of Black Color
    When I was new to Blender and Inkscape, I could not figure out why my Inkscape SVGs were all black… and I just did not know enough to find the right keywords to Google.¬† Later when I learned about Materials, it will started to click.¬† The SVGs import in with a Default Material.¬† If you want to get rid of that, click on the Materials icon for your object, click on the black material and hit to get rid of it.
    Getting Rid of Black
  8. With your newly converted Mesh selected, switch to Edit mode.Switch to Edit Mode
  9. Click A to select all vertices.
  10. Go to Extrude->Region to give your 2D Object some Depth.  If you can you the mouse to size or type in a measurementРfor example 0.5 for 0.5mm.Extrude Region
  11. And then you have a 3D Object in Blender from an SVG file.3D Object

What I Have in the Works for #MakerFaireNova

At the time of publishing this video, I have about 8 days left until Maker Faire Nova on March 19, 2017. More information about the event and tickets can be purchased at http://nova.makerfaire.com/

For my third time participating, I am focusing on 3D prints with embedded elements. With the help of my MakerGear M2, the Wanhao Duplicator i3, and my ever trusty Simplify3D, here’s what I got brewing:

Embedded Prints Within Prints

  • Glowing Anglerfish
  • Multi-colored Gyro Cube
  • Giant Spinning PokeStop*

*I may have attached it differently had I seen Joel Telling’s 200mm bridge first over at 3D Printing Nerd https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL0nWJ__PNM : )

Embedded Mirrors

  • The mirrored candleholder
  • A mirrored vase*

*The mirrored vase can also be seen on A Pyro Design’s channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IL3q7-osqE

Embedded Nuts

  • Taphandles (as seen in my last video)
  • WIP – Rhododendron Drawer Pulls

Embedded Sand!

  • Standing Cancer Ribbons
  • A dramatic 131 gram difference with Rockledge Mansion Christmas Ornaments

Embedded Split Rings

  • Work In Progress – A long chain of “Kinetic Houndstooth”. What I’m doing with that…. Phew, to be determined.

Embedded Corks

  • A Wine Holder…Made of Old Wine Corks! : )

Embedded Magnets

Embedding Nuts for WORKING Tap Handles!

For this video, I get to share a fun project I did for a new brewery called Heroic Aleworks! You can find them at http://www.heroicaleworks.com

The owners of Heroic Aleworks, don’t just consider themselves brewers, but nerds as well! As a great compliment to their very geeky tasting room (they even have a bathroom painted like a tardis), they have 3D Printed Tap Handles.

This is a great illustration of the “rapid product development” 3D Printing is touted for. They approached me on a Tuesday and we had working Tap Handles by Friday!

To make the tap handles functional, we embedded a standard 3/8″ nut into the print itself to screw onto the keg hardware and that’s where the project got fun!

This video talks about how thinking about the printing orientation ahead of time impacted the design, particularly with the consideration of the hole for the nut.

Nut Animation - Step3

It also goes over my multiple processes in Simplify 3D and my custom starting and end scripts (same old, same old– very similar to what was used for embedding mirrors and the multi colored Gyro Cube).

Design Notes:
Final Dimensions for my Hole for 3/8″ Nut – 15mm x 17.8mm x 9mm
Final Dimensions for Octagon Hole for Bolt – 11mm Diameter

Custom Ending Script for my processes:
G91 ; relative mode
G1 Z100 ; lift 100mm

Custom Starting Script for Third Process
G90 ; absolute mode

Custom Starting Script for Final Process (After Color Change)
G92 E0 ; zero extruder
G1 E25 F225 ; purge nozzle
G92 E0 ; zero extruder
G90 ; absolute mode

Thanks for watching!

My Model at CES!!!

Well a hat tip to the impressively, eagle-eyed Joel Telling for noticing this. One of my models, the Spinning PokeStop Ornament, was one of the showcase prints at a booth at CES. I’m not sure if they followed the attribution clause of my Creative Commons Licensing…. but I’m still excited that a model of mine was used.