Lately I’ve been diving more and more into c++ and quant finance. But two weeks ago my m3d printer finally arrived after a year of waiting. On the day of arrival I decided to make a test print using a 3d model from an online ressource. But I felt very eager to create my own designs. In this article you can read how I created a 3d print inspired by nature using Blender and a procedural workflow. Please feel free to read my review on the m3d printer here.
I had this .blend file with procedural scales still laying around. I couldn’t think of a proper usage until I came up with idea of printing a tin. I’ve build my self different paper models to get a feeling for the size. Dispite this fact the printing time finally won above the disired size. It took my printer about ten hours to get this print finished with high quality but only medium infill.
This tin with scales is actually my second 3d model I’ve ever printed, but certainly not my second try :D. It took me numerous times to come up with a result I was fine with. I started printing with ABS, I had to stop my m3d twice cause of adhesion issues. Once I had the problems with the “bed” under control, I was confronted with adhesion issues on the physical layers. When I realized that my attempts were to mad to work (like wrapping your 3d printer with plastic bags to prevent your model from ambient airflows), I dicided to swith to PLA. PLA worked out fine after changing the speed settings of my printer. PLA also fit’s the nature theme better.
Teel me what you think about it, what would you have done differently on this project?
Here’s a short making of on how I tackled organic surfaces using a procedural workflow in Blender.
Setting up the procedurals
Seeting up a scale like pattern in Blender isn’t that difficult. First you need to have some test object to distort the surface. An evenly subdivided grid or some tube, that’s made up of equaly large quads, works best. Make sure to delete the cap ends. Next I’ve unwrapped the mesh, as I wanted to have full control over the “direction and scale of the scales”. Things could have been done differently as well. Further more we need to add a high amount of subdivision to end up with a mesh that can be nicely printed. The key for turning some normal voronoi into a scales is to choose direction “RGB to XYZ” in the modifier’s stack. The voronoi pattern is quite common in nature. It’s e.g. the pattern that can be found on giraffes. Finally you can add in more textures to distort the final result a bit further.
Why procedurals only won’t lead you to success?
As you can see in the image below that this method only works in one direction and at certain angles. What I did is I’ve added the modifiers to the basemesh of my tin. I’ve used weightpainting gradient tools to get rid of scales at the very top and very bottom. Further more I only added this modfier combo in certain places to make it look more natural and less procedural. Finally apply the vetex group, delete half of the mesh and add in a mirror modifier. You’ll need the mirror modifier, unless you want the opposite side of the mesh to point in a different direction.
Here is how my clay render compares to the physical 3d printed object. It’s size is about 4.5 cm*4.5 cm* 5.0 cm. Feel free to download the .stl files.
I’ve got plenty of other ideas what to print, so you can expect more 3d prints in the near future. Cheers Markus