Blender Conference: 3D Printing with Blender

Introduction to 3D printing with Blender.

Blender is the open source software (similar to Autodesk Maya) used to create models and renders that are used for Movie, Game, TV, Architectural and Biomedical design to name but a few. The Blender Conference is an annual event where the community meets in Amsterdam for three days of presentations, roundtables and workshops. 3D printing with Blender was one of the topics as well, read more about it in this article.

Presentation about 3D printing with Blender at the conference

Showcasing what's possible

The conference showcases new and best examples of how the software is being used to the 200+ delegates and the wider Blender community through a live stream. Blender is a perfect tool for many industries to create designs and make them tangible by 3D printing them, but 3D print technology both in its capability and application is not something that many users are yet familiar with. The possibilities of 3D printing with Blender are new to them.

State of the Art

To create more awareness about the usage of Blender and CG software for 3D printing, Ross Dale, Director at Maker-Men, gave a presentation named ''3D Print: The state of the Art'' where he showcased the best in high end 3D printing to the community. The companies showcased were Mimaki for their full colour accurate prints, DigitalMetal for their high precision small scale metal prints, and Tractus3D showing the possibilities of large scale, life sized prints. Ross is enthused about the new paradigm of 3D print and design, and with the openness of Blender he loves to introduce the possibilities it implies to this enthusiastic community.

Ross: ‘’Our aim is to convince all CG designers to 3D print their models and designs, so that they will have something tangible to show their colleagues, clients and potential customers. But also as important, is to send the message that CG designers already have the skills and ability to get involved with product design which goes together with, and builds upon the 3D printing industry.’’

From Blender to 3D print

The presentation covered 3D printing with Blender for CG (Computer Graphics) designers and 3D software users. Namely about the way in which they already have a very capable tool in Blender and the essential knowledge to go direct to 3D print with their current models and work. In particular, it was identified that the output files of CG designers are already at a standard which can easily exceed the resolution of the engineering industry STL file. There are workflows which can convert STL files into high resolution meshes for more accurate printing, and the added advantage of this is that the file used for print and additive manufacturing is also the same file used for CG rendering.

Render made with Blender of the Tractus3D logo
Render of the Tractus3D logo made with Blender

Tractus3D at the cutting edge

With our openness to new technology and improving methods for our customers, Tractus3D worked with the Blender Institute and Maker-Men to identify and resolve the file types and highlight any issues with this CG workflow. Reviewing the potential resolution increase we might see with this process, especially for large scale prints was something we were excited about. We are confident that through this collaboration we have a solution which can take files directly from Blender (or any CG software) into our 3D printing software (converting files to Gcode) to output at high resolution, again and again. 3D printing with Blender; any object or character you see in a film that has been modelled can now be printed on our 3D printers!

Talent in 3D

Ross tells us: “The knowledge of this workflow appears to be limited in the CG world, especially the exact method and information to get their content ready for print. That’s why I am eager to spread this information to this community as they are the ones likely to push the capabilities of 3D print and design, and will do so with the want to show off their own talents and skills.’’

3D printed objects showcased at the Blender Conference
The Blender Community had the opportunity to come on stage to take a look and touch the 3D prints

Tempting to touch

After the presentation the Blender designers were invited on stage to take a look at the prints close up, and for some of them it was also the perfect opportunity to touch a high end 3D print for the first time. The audience was amazed to observe the infinite possibilities of 3D printing with Blender and with the knowledge they already have! Many attendees immediately started talking together about which of their designs they would like to print in 3D, and for the next three days there were non stop questions.

About Blender and Maker-Men

Blender is a free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline: modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. 3D printing with Blender software is definitely a good choice. Blender is well suited to individuals, small studios and multinational companies such as AirBus, who benefit from its unified pipeline and responsive development process. Examples from many Blender-based projects are available in the showcase.

Maker-Men works with the Tech & Industry to create all kinds of 3D designs, for Web, Film, VR or products. They can make real world prototyping and fabrication. From model to concept to reality.

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