Sphynx's guide to Rapid-Prototyping
Converting your mesh models into real-world objects using STL and other rapid-proptyping techniques.
The first major point to remember...
This tutorial is being built over a period of time and will be running in conjunction with the 3D WIP thread 'Etherball: 3D mesh to real-world object
'. This thread will contain all of the important information regarding what you need to know about rapid-prototyping techniques while the WIP thread is a major example of its implementation. Note however, that while that thread is using Blender to model, both threads are for the general membership and are not
Blender tutorials. All of the points raised as of equal importance for all applications in use.
As this thread is being built gradually, it would be extremely useful for now if any comments, requests and questions should be placed in the accompanying WIP thread rather than disrupt the flow of this tutorial. Any posts placed here which are not by myself will be moved without warning to the WIP.
In the same way, I am fully aware that there are several members who have professionally produced items for rapid prototyping in the same way as myself. If any of those members see things that I've missed as I deal with each issue, please post comments in the WIP and I'll incorporate them into the main tutorial pages as we go.
I've produced quite a few meshes for rapid-prototyping so far - in fact over the last year, while it is far from being my staple workload, I've produced twelve meshes, a quarter of them for a returning client. From that, it's clear that I have quite a bit of experience in producing meshes for production as real-world objects - I know the requirements, pitfalls, and great feeling that you get when you see items that you've created on-screen sitting on the desk as a real-world object.
REMEMBER - Post all of your comments and questions in the WIP thread.
The most major point to remember however, comes before all of that. Make no odds - rapid-prototyping is a commercial and industrial process. It is designed primarily for use in producing master items for reproduction, and prototypes for industry. It is not designed for a private individual to transfer their prize 3D mesh into a desktop model, and the best reason for this is cost.
Rapid prototyping is expensive.
The accompanying WIP thread is being run on a piece that I am producing for my company to produce commercially - I'll be lucky if after half of the pieces needed I have change out of £1000.
A simple 98mm high figurine produced by the 3D printing company that I'll be using comes in at just under £100 before tax - on average that's £1 per millimetre of height even for the cross-sectional surface area of a standing figure, so be warned. Saying that however, you don't need to go over the top. Meshes that I've produced have ranged from a 9mm high TIE fighter, to a 200mm tall figurine, and there are many ways to keep the costs down.
So read on.