Support my habit, Get cool Stuff

Thursday, October 25, 2012

3D printing tip - Picture perfect modeling

So you have a doodad that broke and you want to 3D print a replacement. But how can you be sure that the new part will be a good replacement? Here's the method I used to make a replacement part for my kid's drawer that uses only free software and the hardware you probably already have.
  • Put the part on a piece of centimeter graph paper and take a picture. 
  • Import the picture into inkscape, line up the scale, and trace the 2D outline of the object. Save the outline as an SVG. 
  • Import the SVG outline into blender and extrude. Convert the curve to a mesh, Go to edit mode and extrude the outline into a 3D shape. 
  • Do any 3 dimensional editing you need to make a good part. 
  • Export the 3D part as an STL. 
  • Print and replace. 
I kept putting off posting this because I wanted to make an illustrated version, and I may still, but I think it's better this information is out there than it being illustrated. I can always revisit this and update it.


  1. You could also skip InkScape and trace the image using Bezier curves in Blender.

    Curves in Blender are very powerful once you get them figured out.

  2. It is also possible to just use the "trace bitmap" tool in Inkscape to create the curve automatically. This can make a very complicated curve, so be careful!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.