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2,851 Tutorials

How to print 3D models

Bring a series of photographs to life

Step 7. Get used to the navigational tools and the ‘Display Settings’ menu. Have a good look at your model to make sure it looks okay. We noticed some significant holes in our first model, so opted to reshoot the object with greater overlap. Don’t worry about the ground showing for now – we’ll remove this later.

3D printing step 7

Step 8. Click the ‘Mesh Quality’ icon (which will currently show ‘DRAFT‘) and, when the dialog box appears, select Standard, Ok. Calculating a higher-resolution model is carried out remotely; once again, you’re asked whether you want to wait for the process to complete or prefer to be notified by email.

3D printing step 8

Step 9. With your standard-quality mesh object onscreen, it’s time to clean it up. This will mainly involve removing the ground. Rotate the object so you’re looking straight down and zoom out. Using the selection tools, select anything you want to remove (it’ll turn red) and press the Del key.

3D printing step 9

Step 10. By a combination of zooming in and rotating, select and delete ever smaller areas of the ground or any other unwanted objects until you’re left with a clean 3D model. Take care with this process and be prepared to take your time. When you’re happy with your cleaned-up model, go to the File menu and choose Save.

3D printing step 10

Step 11. Select ‘Export Scene As ...’ from the File menu and choose ‘OBJ (obj)’ as the format. Photofly will create .obj, .mtl and one or more Jpeg files from your finished model; add these to a compressed Zip file using PKZIP or one of the many compatible compression utilities.

3D printing step 11

Step 12. Your exported model can now be viewed and manipulated using third-party software. However, we’re going to create a 3D printed object. Visit sculpteo.com and click ‘Upload’ under ‘Make your own 3D objects’. Choose ‘Browse...’ next to ‘Design file’ and upload your Zip file. Fill in the required information and click Ok.

3D printing step 12

Step 13. Sculpteo will process your file, which will be viewable onscreen once complete. It will attempt to correct any geometric issues. Save your image when Sculpteo says it’s printable. The object will be saved in your gallery from where you can order a print. The price will be updated as you alter the size and material.

3D printing step 13

Step 14. Having placed your order, all you need to do is sit back and wait for a parcel to drop through your letter box. In the meantime, 3D printing machines at Sculpteo build up your model in layers by solidifying plastic powder. If you ordered a coloured object, the colour is applied to the solid object using a printing process.

3D printing step 14

Create a personalised mannequin

If you fancy trying out 3D printing but you want an easier solution to the one we described in the above walkthrough, Sculpteo also lets you customise mannequins. These are fun and easy to make, and could make an unusual gift for a loved one.

The personalised figurines are each between 70 and 100mm high, and cost from €60 (£51). All you need to provide is a head-and-shoulders photograph of yourself or a friend taken from the front and, for the best results, another one taken from the side.

The photographs are used to create a model of the figurine’s head using an automated process that’s similar to – but much simpler than – the one used in the main part of our workshop to create a 3D object from a sequence of photographs. However, photographs aren’t used for the body, and here the skill of Sculpteo’s artists come into play.

Using a textual description of the required clothing and accessories that you provide when placing the order, Sculpteo creates a cartoon-esque body. The head and the body are then merged, and you get the opportunity to approve the design before giving the go-ahead.

The figurine, which is printed in full colour, will be delivered within 10 working days. If you’re really pleased with your mini-me, you can order additional prints from just €30 since the initial outlay includes the design cost. Figurines of couples or family groups are available, too.

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