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3D Printing Day 5: Picking a Software, Blender

by Carlyn Maw on April 6, 2012, one comment

TL;DR  Blender has one of the steepest learning curves of any software I’ve tried to use in a long time. The climb is worth it for the computer savvy if the end goal is to produce a character model that can be used in animations and printed out as action figure. The competitors cost thousands of dollars. Making objects for the real world isn’t the problem Blender evolved to solve and it is… quirky… using it to do so. Tutorials can be hard to follow because expert users customize their layouts so much. 3 button mice are not my favorite being a hand switcher, and the software cannot be used without one. So while I don’t hate Blender, love that it is open source (C, C++, python) and get why it has a rabid fan base, learning it isn’t where I want to spend my time right now. But I made the model, and I’m actually PROUD. Took a lot of work to figure out.

Since there is no official place to share files for Blender I’ve put everything on GitHub

Web Resources

Videos Watched (and recommended) 

Videos 1-3 Here (15 minutes total)
Cyberpunk Telescope (43 minutes, I watched about half): 

Videos I’d Watch Next

My Notes

So I watched a bunch of videos – but I wish I had seen the ones on earlier. I haven’t watched them all yet but I think they might have covered exactly what I needed to know. What was hard about the process for me is that all of the videos are for people who want to make objects that will only ever live on a screen. I did not see a lot of tutorials aimed at the 3D printing crowd. This has to be a searching problem on my end given the number of Blender built models on Thingiverse.

Commands I don’t want to forget:

MMB (middle mouse button) – Oribit
MMB + CNTRL – Zoom


OPT/ALT + RMB (right mouse button) to select edge rather than vertex
CNTRL + TAB to get menu to choose what gets selected by default (including faces)
CNTRL + Z Undo


E – Extrude
S – Scale
SHIFT Select at least 3 vertices and then F to create a face
A to toggle selections (All <-> None)

My Video


The Stats

Version 2.62
Date 4/4/12

Target Demographic
  • Ideal Object – Model for use in a 3D world, anything but tiny tiny if there are also things athat are BIG. 
  • Ideal User – Expert

  • OpenSource – Yes
  • Free – Yes
  • Premium Version – No
  • Linux Version – Yes
  • Browser Based – No
  • Requires Internet Acces – No

Privacy, Community & Learning
  • StalkerWare – No
  • Private Files – Yes 
  • Official Community Repository – Nothing “official” it seems but plenty to choose from is you search for “blender repository”
  • Instashare – No
  • Collaborative Editing: No
  • Official Tutorials – Good, but not targeted at 3D printers
  • Community Tutorials – Terrible to Excellent. There are a lot of them. 

  • How many tutorials/videos to build first project – 2hr+ (Giver yourself a whole weekend if you really want to get comfortable. And keep using it regularly at first)
  • Default Bkg Color – Dark gray
  • Good for Computer Beginners – No
  • Requires 3 Button Mouse – Yes
  • Real-world units – Yes, users choice
  • Numeric controls – Yes
  • WYSIWYG – Yes
  • Scripting – Yes
  • Plugins & Extensions – Yes, many

  • Format Types: DAE, BVN, SVG, PLY, STL, 3DS, OBJ, X3D, WRL

  • Direct to STL – YES
  • Format Types: DAE PLY STL 3DS FBX OBJ X3D
  • Adjust scale on output – No, unitless unless units pre-indicated
  • Direct to Printing Service – No


One thought on “3D Printing Day 5: Picking a Software, Blender

  1. Hey Daniel,<div><br></div><div>FreeCAD looks cool, as well. So, so many options.</div><div><br></div><div>I&#39;m pretty??committed??to the MakerBot because there is one not 10 feet from me that gets used all the time. I&#39;m certainly not anti-rep-rap, though.<br> <br></div>

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