Category Archives: 3D Modeling

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 SizeBy 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 measurement– for 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.

Slides for 3D Printing and Crafts Presentation

Last Thursday night, I had the delight of participating in a Meetup with the Delaware 3D Printing Group. The event was hosted by Printed Solid. The group was kind enough to let me yammer on about my 3D Printed Crafts. :) I very much enjoyed chatting with other printing enthusiasts and left the event invigorated. I should make it a point to do an event like this every November when the fatigue that accompanies Cyber Week looms in my brain. :)

For those who missed it, I do have all my slides up on SlideShare.

Using Inkscape and Tinkercad to Customize Halloween Pendants

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

My very first Thingiverse upload was glowing pumpkin pendants/pins for kids.  This video hits briefly on how I print these via Multi-processes in Simplify3D (Spoiler alert – they are three separate prints).  It will also show you how you can import in the pendant template into TinkerCAD and quickly make your own customizations.  Finally, have a drawing you want to use?  I’ll go over using Inkscape to make a SVG file from a black and white image/photo/scan that you can also pull into TinkerCAD to “carve” your pumpkin.
All the pumpkin models, including the template are up on Thingiverse at:
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1074202
Need help with Simplify3D Multiple Processes?  I learned from THIS Joel Telling video:
https://youtu.be/ZHe2_h1nQG4
TinkerCAD is free with nothing to install– http://www.tinkercad.com
Finally, Inkscape is also free and can be downloaded at http://www.inkscape.org.
The Starting and Stopping Points of My Processes
0 – 1.5mm – Black or Green
1.5 – 2mm – GlowFill
2mm – rest – Orange

What in the World Has Vicky Been Up To?!!?

I’m back with 3D Printings after a bit of a hiatus and I have a lot to catch you up on!

Printed Solid Grand Opening!
A freaking wonderful, invigorating event. Joel Telling’s overview of the event can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnZqMnokjpw

What does TGAW stand for? That is answered in Joel’s interview with me:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REvIWbER_Gc

Anglerfish
Blog post with more details on the creation of my bronzeFill/GlowFill Anglerfish. I do have one more if you happen to covet one. 😉
http://tgaw.com/wp/?p=307

Bow Ties!
I’ll work on a video about their design in Blender and the attachment design in OpenSCAD. It’ll use words like “Texture”, “Baking”, “Displacement Maps” and “Boolean Intersection”. In the meantime, I do have some listed on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/VickyTGAW

Land’s End Gazebo
The real live gazebo in Sayville, NY can be found here http://www.landsendweddings.com/

Geocoin
Check out the AMAZING family I am designing for. You couldn’t get better inspiration than that!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znnSSlJF79w

Make Your Empty Filament Spools into a Shelf
As promised, the model is up on Thingiverse as well as the original OpenSCAD code.
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1677024

Print in Place Gyro Cube!
Wanna beta test my version of the Gyro Cube on YOUR printer? Lemme know!

Thanks for watching! Happy Printing!