Blender to include more 3D print support!

The Blender 2.67 release includes a feature packed 3D printing toolbox

Blender has long supported the .STL file format used to export for 3D print and it is very welcome news that there will be additional support within the software to help modelers. As a popular, free and open source 3D modeling software package, these new features will greatly help save users’ time in finding issues with their models.

The new toolbox looks set to have features useful for printing models both with online services such as Ponoko, and also with RepRap or Makerbot kitset 3D printers. Models for 3D printing need to be perfectly watertight, so all their edges need to meet to enclose a volume. For most users this can cause issues from time to time, trying to find where a tiny hole might exist.
Existing Blender users will be delighted with these new features, which may also entice new users to try Blender and include it in their 3D pipeline.
One of the most interesting features is the ability to analyse wall thickness and sharpness across a model; allowing users to identify areas too thin to print in particular materials. There is also overhang checking, that will be very useful to users printing with FDM printers such as Makerbots, to help them decide if they want to include support material to print with.
For the upcoming release, the Blender Foundation have also announced and opened pre-orders for a new 3D print training DVD. Over three hours long, this  tutorial is aimed at beginner through to advanced users. The DVD has been put together by Dutch artist Dolf Veenvliet.
There are also helpful getting started guides for 3D printing with your Personal Factory.
For anyone interested in the new upcoming 2.67 features, you can download the release candidate and check out the new features yourself. You’ll need to enable the toolbox from the Mesh Addons options in the Preferences, however. See the screenshot below:

David is an industrial designer from New Zealand. He contributes a weekly article on personal fabrication for Ponoko. Follow him on Twitter!

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