created in free modeling software called “Blender”
(blender.org). Though this movie is around 6 years
old, it is still a great example of how great models
can be created using free software.
3D models are a digital representation of an object.
Many of the 3D models created for movies and
games were not modeled with the end goal of 3D
printing. If you tried to download those models, the
model would probably not be “optimized” for 3D
printing and would need significant work in order
to print. (We will discuss this in greater detail in
Chapter 11, where we go over how to fix a 3D model
Many of the real-world products we use in our daily
lives began their existence as 3D models, such as
the bike frame modeled in a computer-aided design
(CAD) program called Fusion 360 as shown in
3D modeling programs are a great way to express yourself creatively and to bring your ideas into reality,
and we will help you get started with them in the next section of this book. If you don’t want to make your
own, however, other people have created 3D models and have shared them freely online. You may want to
start by printing out some of these pre-built models. You’ll find a more detailed description of where to find
models and how to evaluate them in Chapter 13.
HOW DO I GET FROM IDEA TO OBJECT?
In the rapid prototyping division of our company, HoneyPoint3D™, we tell customers that they can bring in
an idea or sketch and we can turn that into a computer-aided design (CAD) file that can later be 3D printed.
Many times, what they bring is a drawing on a piece of paper, sometimes even on the back of a napkin!
Figure 8-4 shows the basic process of how we turn an idea into a 3D print.
Some clients come into our office with nothing more than an idea, but generally people have at least 2D
drawings from which we can extrapolate measurement details. Keep in mind that it’s ok to have “best
guess” measurements when you start modeling. As you move through the process of creating models,
you will later be able to change and refine the measurements. This rapid-prototyping process (described in
Chapter 15) can be applied to creating anything from a princess figurine to a car engine.
Future File Format
As of this writing, the industry standard is still
the STL ﬁle format. In April 2015, Microsoft and
other prominent 3D printing companies formed
a consortium to deﬁne an alternative ﬁle format
that they claim improves on the STL format. It’s
called 3MF, and Microsoft said that it is designed
to make 3D printing easier and more manageable.
The new format would reduce loss of detail when
exporting ﬁles for 3D printing, and it is designed
to deﬁne vital information like color and material
speciﬁcations. The 3MF ﬁle format has promising
potential but has not been standardized in the
consumer realm quite yet (even since the ﬁrst
publication of this book!).
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