Finding and creating models for 3D printing

Posted on February 11th, 2018 | Tags: 3d printing, Printing, Technical

3D is a great technology for rapid prototyping and creating personalised items. All you need is a model file and

Copy Express can do the rest. The question is where to find these models to print, or how create your own. We will tell you the where and how.

All 3D printed objects start of as nothing more than a mathematical model stored on a computer. These STL (STereoLithography or Standard Tessellation Language) files describe the object’s surfaces as points in 3D space. We would take that file and run it through software that converts in to the instructions for the printer on how to create every slice that makes up the finished object.  Now how do you get these STL files for us to print from?
Downloading already created files
Sometimes there is no point in reinventing the wheel. For a lot of what people want to print, some one else has already created the STL file for printing. These can be found in online model libraries, many of which are run by makers of 3D printers or 3D software.  Depending on the creator (or website), you can download the files for free,  for other creators you have to buy the file. Some files are allowed to be altered to however you like, others you have to pay the creator to have changes made. Here’s are a few good starting places:

Making your own STL files

You have a 3D model already and just want to print it. All 3D CAD programs support exporting to STL files now. If you have tried  3D computer animation, those programs can create the same files as well. But what if you just want to play around with designing things for printing and don’t want to spend money on specialist software.

Converting a real world object in to a STL

This the area of the technology is the weakest part right now. Even the cheapest 3D scanners will set you back hundreds of dollars and can be temperamental from what I’ve read. The low/no solution I’ve found is using a decent digital camera and Autodesk’s 123D Capture software. It’s bit fiddly but it can create decent files that you can work on. There’s even integrated apps for your phone.

So this is just a starting point for finding and creating the files you’ll need to explore the world of 3D printing. If you want to know more, or want help finding the right design for the job then give us a call at Copy Express and we will be happy to help.