Create a Mesh Pattern & Lightweight 3D Prints





Introduction: Create a Mesh Pattern & Lightweight 3D Prints

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Create a Mesh Pattern and Light weight Your 3D Print Using Meshmixer (free)

A number of my fellow artists and makers have asked me how I achieve this mesh aesthetic in my CAD models and were surprised to find out that it is quite simple. I use edit > make pattern in Meshmixer, a free program by Autodesk.

Here are some tips that I found work best + a short video on how I do it.

I've used many programs and solutions for light weighting and piping effects (including Within and Grasshopper/Rhino) but this is one of the simplest. I am interested in how to have more control in the patterns and and would enjoy seeing your work and hearing how you lightweight, pipe and mesh your models... please post in comments below!

How to lightweight your 3D CAD model and add a mesh pattern fo... A number of my colleagues have asked me how I create this interesting #mesh pattern on my #CADmodels and lightweight for #3Dprinting... here is short video on how I do it!
Posted by Artist Amy Karle on Monday, February 22, 2016

Step 1: Create Your Model

Download Meshmixer and model your geometry there or in your program of choice.

Once your geometry is to a place where you like how it looks,
scale it to the size you'd like to 3D print it.

Step 2: Prep Your Geometry

In Meshmixer,

make solid:
edit > make solid

reduce triangle count to between 3,000-5,000 tris or less:
select all, then
select > edit > reduce > triangle budget
type in between 3,000-5,000 or less
click accept

Step 3: Process Into Mesh

Turn your geometry into a mesh pattern:
edit > make pattern > dual edges (or mesh + delauney edges or mesh + delauney dual edges)
move the sliders and gradients until your preferred pattern is generated
press accept

*notes & tips*

  • Mesh pattern does not always appear in the preview correctly as it does once you press "accept" and it applies, so you may have to try a few variations and let it process to be certain of what you're getting.
  • Selecting face group borders gives a different effect than selecting an entire geometry - mesh is tighter around face borders.
  • Mesh will only apply to one shell at a time (as in my skull example, where the cranium was meshed but the mandible was not). Either process separate shells separately (which often gives an interesting effect) or make the entire geometry one piece and process together.

Step 4: Final Processing and 3D Printing

Depending on your 3D printer, you may have to change some of the geometry so that you can get the supports out from the interior, or go with it to create an interesting interior!

Printers that I found that work best for this are powder printers where powder can be blown out of interiors and FDM printers whose support material can be dissolved.

Once your model is how you like it,
export to .stl or .obj or to your 3D printer.

Please share what you make & happy printing!

Step 5: Looking Forward to Seeing What You Make With This Technique!

Please share comments of what you've learned and pics of what you make!

For more Meshmixer Tutorials, check out:



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Is the mesh "solid", or is it only the surface?

4 replies

Hi @Flecks
In this technique the mesh becomes its own solid and is printable. The resulting file is large, but I don't run into overlapping tris, errors or problems with exporting the mesh. I like Meshmixer better than other programs I've used for this reason.

Oh sorry, i didn't phrase myself clearly. I meant to ask if the mesh goes all the way through the model, or if it makes a mesh only over the surface of the original model? Thanks for the answer anyway!

It makes the mesh over the surface of the original model. Sometimes you can "force" it to make some meshes through the inside if there are holes in the model but I haven't figured out the algorithm enough to explain how this would work... if you're interested, experiment and please let me know how it goes :)

Thank you very much, I will try it out :)

Great instructable, amazing technique! Thanks for sharing, will be using in many projects.

The models remind me of the end goal of Invesalius :

I think they use MRIs as input and come up with accurate 3D models of many layers of one person's body. Some creepy screenshots too :-)

2 replies

Wow! This is awesome @Samircury! Thank you for sharing! Im going to try and get my MRIs from UCSF and see if I can do the same :)

Cool, let me know if you need support from the software people, I used to know a couple developers back in 2010, one of them was the head of the project.