3D Printing with ZBrush
Illustration by John Hersey

3D Printing with ZBrush

with Ryan Kittleson

Video: Measuring minimum thicknesses

Possibly the greatest concern when modeling Okay, so what I want to do is zoom in on the thinnest part Okay.

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Watch the Online Video Course 3D Printing with ZBrush
1h 14m Intermediate May 30, 2014

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Prepare your models for 3D printing with ZBrush, the popular program for 3D modeling and digital sculpting. Learn how to measure your models with real world units, so everything prints at the right size; save on material costs by hollowing out your models; and make sure your colors print true. Author/artist/3D aficionado Ryan Kittleson also shares some advanced tips and tricks for getting the best results from your particular printer.

This course was created by Ryan Kittleson. We're honored to host this training in our library.

Topics include:
  • Combining multiple objects
  • Sizing an object with real-world units
  • Fixing parts that are too thin
  • Cutting models into smaller pieces
  • Making models hollow
  • Working with color 3D prints
3D + Animation
Ryan Kittleson

Measuring minimum thicknesses

Possibly the greatest concern when modeling for 3D printing is feature thickness. Shapes need to have a certain thickness in order to be strong and stable. In this video, I'll show you some ways of measuring the features of a model to make sure that they meet minimum tolerances. The minimum thickness varies depending on the material and the shape of the structure. So, it's up to you to research the thickness requirements of the material that you plan to print with. Now, there's two main techniques for this.

The first one is with the transpose tool. Just like we used it before to measure the overall dimensions of an object, we can also use it to measure specific parts as well. So, let's switch to any one of the transpose tools: move, scale, or rotate. And I just want to zoom out a little bit here. And let's see. We'll draw one all the way, just to get a sense. About 41 millimeters tall. And actually I'm going to go into Preferences, Transpose Units, and I'm going to set this to millimeters just to make sure there's no confusion.

Okay, so that's about half the height of the palm of my hand. Okay, so what I want to do is zoom in on the thinnest part of the model, which, by rotating around, looks like it might be his ear lobes. So I'm going to zoom in on the ear lobes and just rotate my view around a little bit here. And I'll just click and drag on the ear lobe to drag out a manipulator. Okay, so I'm going to rotate around the model just to make sure that's going. For those part right through the earlobe, let me just kind of move this a little bit.

Get a better sense of that. Okay. Pretty good. So we can see over here. That's 1.4 millimeters. Now, I want to print this in color. It's a color model, of course, so the full-color sandstone material on shape waves is the one that I will want to print this out on. The minimum thickness for that material is two millimeters, so this is a little bit too small. Before we get into fixing anything, let me show you another way to measure thickness. Let's go into Draw Mode, and I'm going to go into sub tool, and let's click Append and pick sphere 3D.

So now we have a new sphere here in our subtools. Let me zoom out by hitting F. And also, I want to be able to see that sphere, and it's actually inside of our model right now, so we can't see it. So what I want to go to is Transform and Transparency. So this will make any of the objects that aren't currently selected with the subtool semi-transparent. Let's see, if we rotate around we can actually see that the sphere inside here. It's currently colored gray, so I'm just going to make it white, a little bit easier to see.

Now we need to make sure that this sphere is the correct size. So let's go to Geometry and go to Size. And so right now it is two millimeters in each dimension, which is perfect because the full-color sandstone material has to be at least two millimeters thick. So if you want a material that has a minimum thickness of say 0.7 millimeters, you might change the size of this to something like 0.7, but I'm just going to leave it at two. I'm going to hit Control-Z to undo that change.

Okay, so now, what I want to do is go into my move transpose tool, and I'm just going to click and drag out a manipulator, so I can move this sphere. And so you move it just by clicking and dragging on this white center circle here. And we can just drag this to any part of the model and get a sense of how thick the model is based on this sphere. So you can see just another way of measuring that thickness. The sphere pokes through both sides. We know that earlobe is too thin.

Okay, when you're done measuring, what you can do is switch back to your main model. And we can also turn off that transparency effect under Transform. And you might want to Hide that sphere. Okay, great. So those are two ways of measuring thickness. It can be very frustrating for a 3D print to break or to fail to print, and one of the most common culprits is that parts of model are too thin. With these techniques, you'll know where to look to thicken things up so that they can print more reliably.

There are currently no FAQs about 3D Printing with ZBrush.

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