3D printing is getting mobile. The options available to create, view or convert your 3D designs from your smartphone or tablet are growing every day with new apps and features. Today we present you with some suggestions for mobile apps that will make your life easier. For students, professionals or enthusiasts, there is a mobile 3D design app for everyone. 3DC.io This small Estonian start-up has created an easy and extremely intuitive app for 3D design. 3DC has a very simple interface that makes it a good option for beginners or children and young people who want to start designing. This app for 3D design has a focus on education. 3DC.io offers discounts for schools and helps teachers to integrate 3D design in their curriculums. Features in 3DC are uncomplicated and include a gallery where users can upload their designs or where newbies can get some inspiration, as well as templates to work on. This 3D Mobile app is free but you can upgrade with a monthly or yearly fee. With the Pro version, you can export your designs to .OBJ to edit them or to .STL to print them. Once you have converted your model to this format, you can easily upload it to i.materialise to print it. Ideal for: Beginners, kids and young students Available for: Android, iOS, Web and Desktop Price: Free Pro version for $2.99 per month or $14.99 per year Languages: English, Estonian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Finnish, Japanese, Russia Morphi A mobile app for 3D design with a focus on visualization. You can design your models for 3D printing and place them in the real world thanks to its virtual reality feature. Morphi is designed to be used on iPads. It uses templates and ready-made shapes that can be manipulated with the tools in the app. The idea behind this 3D app, released by a New York start-up called The Inventery, is to democratize 3D design. There are many tutorials and videos available to learn more. Also focused on education, Morphi App offers licensing discounts for schools, as well as online and offline workshops about 3D printing and virtual and augmented reality. Ideal for: Beginners and Schools Available for: iPad and Mac, Windows (in beta) Price: Free For a $9.99 single purchase you can access extra features (view designs in AR, export to .STL and .OBJ or import .STL). When buying more than 20 licenses there is a 50% discount. Free 15-day trial Languages: English Microsoft 3D Builder 3D Builder is a Microsoft app for 3D modeling and printing. The app has been a standard feature on Windows PC since 2013, and is now also available for Windows 10 Mobile and Xbox. With this app, Windows phone users can view, capture, personalize and print their models from their smartphone. The mobile 3D Builder app is optimized for a touchscreen interface, making it easier to tweak and repair models on the go. From 3D Builder, users can send their models directly to i.materialise and get professional 3D prints in a variety of finishes and colors. 3D Builder supports many 3D file formats such as 3MF, STL, OBJ, PLY, and WRL. Ideal for: Basic modeling and changes Available for: Windows 10 Phone Price: Free Umake Pen and paper meet 3D design with this app for iOS. Umake allows you to turn your sketches and doodles into professional 3D models. This award-winning 3D design tool focuses its efforts on tutorials and weekly video tips. To 3D print the designs, it is possible to export them in OBJ, STEP and IGES format. The pro option offers unlimited exports and imports up to 25MB. Umake is also the most colorful app for 3D modeling! The app has an extensive community where users can share their designs, get inspired and give feedback to each other. Ideal for: Designers starting on 3D and anybody looking for some fun Available for: iOS Price: Free Pro option for $9.99 per month or $99 per year Languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese Onshape Onshape is a complete cloud 3D CAD system that lets members of a team work simultaneously from their browser, phone or tablet. You can 3D print your models on Onshape directly from the web, downloading the i.materialise 3D printing plugin, available on the Onshape browser. Learn how to install the i.materialise plugin and 3D print with Onshape. Ideal for: Professional designers and engineers who work in teams Available for: Android, iOS and web Price: Free for educative purposes. $125 per month for professional use. Free trial available Languages: English, German, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese Shapr3D This is a professional 3D CAD app for iPad, especially created for iPad Pro, which works with an Apple Pencil. On other iIPads Shapr3D works as a CAD file viewer but it’s not possible to edit the files. This mobile app is useful for the first ideation stages of 3D designs. The professional option offers unlimited workspaces, image export and import, export to CAP apps and colors. Ideal for: Industrial designers, engineers and creatives. Available for: iOS. For iPad Pro Pricing: Free Pro version $8.25 per month when billed yearly Language: English SketchUp Viewer for Mobile The mobile app for SketchUp is not here yet, but with this viewer app you can view your 3D models on your phone and tablet. This app is focused on accessibility, so you can connect the app to storage services like 3D Warehouse, Dropbox, Google Drive, Trimble Connect or email inboxes. With SketchUp Viewer, users can access many different views with section planes, perspective cameras, layer visibility and even an x-ray mode. Beginners who have never worked with this software, can read these tips and tricks for 3D printing with SketchUp. If you feel generous, it might be good to know that SketchUp goes a step further in its visualization, with a feature for HoloLens. For $1499 you can use the mixed reality feature on your device. Ideal for: Professionals who work with
Modo is a 3D modeling, animation and rendering program which runs on Windows, Mac and Linux computer systems. This software by Foundry is a 3D printing design tool suitable for every field: games design, arts or science, but it is designed for 3D artists in particular. Modo stands out for its interface and tool set, which provide a very intuitive workflow. It can work with existing pipelines and it supports a wide variety of industry-standard files and image formats, allowing a bi-directional exchange of data. Modo is a great tool for 3D professionals and advanced users thanks to its integration functions. It is considered one of the most popular design software programs for 3D printing. Main features of Modo for 3D printing Modo offers many advantages for 3D designers and we want to highlight some of its main features. Modeling This the most remarkable feature of this 3D design software. The big amount of modeling tools and options available on Modo can be overwhelming at first but they are grouped by function. Understanding the use of every group will help you when working with each individual tool. This software features MeshFusion Boolean tools for a smoother experience. Modo is a polygon modeling software and most of its tools are a combination of building blocks, transforms, action centers and fall offs. These can be combined to get more powerful tools: a default toolset with a potential for limitless numbers of variations. If you find a variation that you like, you can save it as a tool preset and use it again whenever you want. The work plane is a 2D plane upon which all tools operate and it’s adaptive: it will predict which plane you want to work on depending on how you are looking at your model. Tools will always work across this active plane. You can align the work plane to any part of your model and the whole tool system will adapt that change, allowing you to work locally in any part of your scene. These costume planes can also be saved to be used later on. Models here can exist in any combination of 3D polygon types which you can choose depending on what you are making, so you can use it for a wide variety of tasks. Selection in Modo is very easy as components can be paint selected, loop selected, pattern selected, moved, expanded, contracted or inverted. You can even select components based on their geometric properties and the intuitive polygon tools allow you to slice, slide, bridge, extend and extrude geometry with them. Modo has many different modeling approaches, so you can decide which one is better for you at any time. If you need to work on repetitive tasks while modeling, it can be useful because you can use a macro to record your actions, save them to your configuration and rerun them when needed, speeding your workflow considerably. Sculpting Another important feature with Modo is that it offers the possibility to model and sculpt a basic texture and then go back to model again, making the workflow very pleasant. Modo also integrates 2D and 3D painting techniques. It is advisable to use a pressure-sensitive tablet for greater precision when modeling and texturing with Modo. The software has three types of sculpting and each one has its own requirements. – Mesh: Great for building rough forms. It uses raw geometry and is not recommended for fine details – Image-Based: Uses image maps for accurate details – Multi-Res: A mix of the other two types. It offers the flexibility of mesh sculpting with the fine detailing of image-based sculpting. The drawback of this kind of sculpting is the big amount of resources needed to calculate multi-resolution meshes By combining a basic tool with different brushes and inks you will be able to generate a great number of costumed tools and save those as presets. You can even control and preview the shape of a brush and apply it with a variety of tools, as well as creating masks to control the surface of the models. There are many different solutions depending on your approach to sculpting. Visualization Modo is a great tool for visualizing 3D design projects at any point during the creative process. You can import many formats to program and, once on the software, you will have access to all the texturing and rendering tools. The UV tools will help you reach every part of your object to work on it. With the drag and drop workflow you can manipulate images and place them in context, and the renders preview allows you to see your changes in real life. As you can see, the possibilities are endless and the great thing about it is that you can personalize your workflow and adapt it to every design and project. It might not be the best option for beginners in 3D design but its versatility turns it into a very good solution for experienced 3D artists. You can get started on Modo with a 30-day free trial and become an expert with their learning packages and tutorials. Printing your Modo 3D design To print your 3D design created on Modo, you can export your files to STL format and the export will triangulate or freeze the mesh for you. Before that, you should make sure that all units are in millimeters, to avoid incompatibilities. Is your Modo design ready for 3D printing? You can upload your model to our website and we will print it in high quality with the material of your choice. To be sure about which material suits your design and texture better, compare different materials for 3D printing and even order one of our sample kits in advance. If you are interested in 3D sculpting, you should also check out these other 3D sculpting programs: you’ll be sure to find the program you need. Featured image © Foundry
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Autodesk Fusion 360 is one of the most popular programs among the 3D printing community, especially for those interested in industrial design. It combines powerful functionalities with a beginner-friendly interface and a relatively easy learning curve. In this tutorial, we will dive deeper into the 3D printing capabilities of Fusion 360. We will learn how to model, edit, prepare and 3D print a Fusion 360 design. So let’s get started! 1. 3D Modeling Rules for 3D Printing As with any other program, Fusion 360 users need to make sure to stick to certain design rules when it comes to 3D printing. A 3D model might look perfect on your screen, but would not be able to exist as a geometrical object in the real world. This is a problem in particular for programs mostly used by visual artists and game developers. Luckily for us, Fusion 360 is mainly used by industrial designers to create functional parts. That’s why the transition from virtual 3D model to actual 3D print is quite easy with this software. Nevertheless, keep these rules in mind. Chances are you already respect them in Fusion 360 without even knowing that they exist. Wall Thickness: Printers need information about how thick you intend the wall of your object to be (or if you want to print a completely solid model). Therefore, when turning a 3D model into a real 3D print, the wall thickness or volume information of the model is needed. You simply cannot print an object that has a ‘paper-thin’ wall without substance. Watertight: A printable model must not have any holes in its surface. Ask yourself the question: if I were to put water inside my model, would it flow out? If that’s the case, then you need to find those holes and close them. Sometimes this process is also called ‘creating a manifold model’ Grouped Models: While it is possible to export several bodies in a single STL file (so-called grouped models), we recommend you to export one model at a time 2. 3D Printing Commands Now that your design is ready for 3D printing, select the MAKE command. Now select the body that you intend to print by clicking on it. Once selected, you will see the body is previewed as a mesh. 3. File Resolution of 3D Print On the right-hand side of your screen, you will see a window with additional 3D printing settings to choose from. These are mainly about the resolution of your 3D print. A very low resolution will make the print look somewhat pixelated. A resolution that is too high will make the file very – or even too heavy – to handle. Besides the pre-defined resolution options of “low, medium or high”, you can click on “Refinement Options” to customize the settings. We recommend a deviation of 0.01 millimeters for 3D printing with i.materialise. This resolution will guarantee a print of the highest possible detail while ensuring that the data won’t be too big. 4. File Type of 3D Print At the bottom of the settings window, you can decide upon the “output” of your 3D print. You can either export it as an STL file (the most popular 3D printing file format) or continue with Autodesk’s print studio to prepare this model for the 3D printer. If you go for the latter option, the selected body will be exported from Fusion 360 and imported to a newly opened Autodesk print studio window. For some more info about importing and exporting STL files in Fusion 360, read the next chapter. To learn more about preparing your 3D print with Autodesk Print Studio, read on from chapter 6. 5. Importing and Exporting STL Files Fusion 360 offers several ways to export, but also import STL files. The following video tutorial by Autodesk’s Fusion 360 evangelist Sachlene Singh gives a good overview of the different options. 6. Preparing the 3D Print with Autodesk Print Studio Autodesk Print Studio takes you through the 3D printing process step by step. The first thing you might want to try is the repair tool, which will automatically detect problems and fix them for you. For example, if your model is not watertight and contains holes in its surface, Print Studio’s repair tool will fix this for you. The next steps of the process are only important if you use home printers. You can optimize rotation to let the software determine how to best position the body on the print pad. Then you can automatically add supports. Keep in mind that for online services like i.materialise, you do not need to add any supports as we will add those automatically if necessary. Most of our 3D printers (especially those printing in Polyamide) do not even require support structure during their printing process. In the last two steps, you can preview your print and export the file. 7. 3D Printing Online If you want to print your design in over 100 high-quality materials and finishes, our online 3D printing service might be what you are looking for. With i.materialise you can simply upload your 3D file, choose your favorite material, and get an instantly calculated price quote in seconds. After ordering we’ll also check your file for common 3D modeling issues and let you know if your design still needs some editing.
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Some 3D printing processes will require what is known as support. Since we cannot print into thin air and the laws of physics and gravity also account for 3D printing, some objects with overhanging parts need support structure. In this blog post you will discover which materials use support structure, what this means for you as a customer, and how you can remove support structure from resin prints yourself. When do you need to design and remove support structure? If you order through online services like i.materialise the short answer is: you never have to design support structure. Most of our materials (especially those that use power-based technologies like laser sintering) work completely without support structures. Some other technologies, such as resin-based stereolithography or filament-based FMD printers do need support. However, online services automatically design support structures when necessary and trained personnel remove them after the printing process. However, there is one exception to this rule. In order to make your prints cheaper, you can order prints in Standard Resin “with support structure” at i.materialise. This means less manual work for us, and low-budget prints for you. If you don’t feel comfortable to remove the support yourself, you can choose the option “without support structure”. General tips for removing 3D printed support structure First of all a general reminder: work slowly and cautiously when removing support structure. Thin and detailed Standard Resin parts are much more brittle than thick and solid ABS parts. So: caution and precision are key Before you work on your main print, make sure to start with a test piece or with the least visual part of your model Support structure that was added by i.materialise is generated with high-end software that automatically designs and attaches those lightweight structures to your print. The support is typically connected to the print with very thin connection parts. It is advised to cut off the support very close to the actual print. This will make sanding the part much easier How to remove support structure from 3D prints There are tons of blades and tools to choose from. Which tool works best for you depends on many variables such as the shape and size of the print, the material, and your personal preferences. It often makes sense to use a combination of these blades. These are the most common and most popular tools that our community uses: Many people use a needle nose plier. These are typically used for support that can be broken away, rather than cut away. So while this is a great tool to work relatively fast, it is less suitable for parts that need precise control. A flush cutter might be a good alternative since it combines strength and precision Putty-type knives, scraper knives, or pallet knives with sharpened edges are sometimes used for removing support as well. They are most often used for large-scale models without small details. So it might only make sense to remove the rough and outer parts of the support with these kinds of knives Xacto knives are a popular choice and give you lots of precision. With these, you can cleanly cut away the small elements that connect support structure and objects in Standard Resin. The only downside is that they are really sharp and a single slip can result in a sliced finger or a scratch in your 3D print Some people like heating the blade or even the model in order to make it easier to slice off the support structure since it will be much softer. Typically, a tiny butane torch is used for this. If you want to go for this option, make sure to be very careful, for the sake of both yourself and your model After the cut: sanding off the surface of the 3D print Once the cutting is done, you probably want to get rid of the small remaining support elements and marks. This is why the next step is all about polishing your model. For this, sanding with high grit sandpaper between 220 and 12000 can work wonders. While using sandpaper will make your part smoother and eliminate the last remaining support parts, it will change the color of the print. Basically, it will be possible to see which parts of the print have been sanded. This is why it makes sense to color the print afterwards (see our painting tutorial) Some users even go for a small drill-like tool such as a Dremel. These handheld grinders, with a variety of bits and attachments, can smoothen parts. For Standard Resin, we would suggest against using them, however. They are simply too fast and powerful. They produce heat that can deform the part and offer too little control for delicate details Now that you know how to remove support structure, make sure to check out our Standard Resin. It’s a low-budget material that comes at an even lower cost if you go for the option to remove the support yourself.