Making Organic Curves for 3d Printing

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Introduction: Making Organic Curves for 3d Printing

In this Instructable, I'm going to share my method for designing more lifelike models that use natural curves. I'll be using 2 free programs, Tinkercad and Meshmixer.

For my example, I'm going to design the wing part of Xur's Ko-Dan Scepter from "The Last Starfighter", but the technique should be applicable to any form you want to look more organic.

Supplies

TinkerCad (Browser-based 3D design software, available at tinkercad.com)

Meshmixer (Free Downloadable 3D mesh editor, available at meshmixer.com)

Step 1: Rough Out Your Shape

To begin, I used the basic cone shape in Tinkercad to make the finger supports for the wing. One large cone for the leading edge, then more slightly smaller stretched cones aligned across the middle. For the webbing, I made a flatter shape with a curve cutout on one end, and made sure all the parts were overlapping.

Once you have your basic structure together, you can download/export it to be used in Meshmixer. You can group all the parts together, but the download will turn it into one shape anyway, so I think it's better to leave them separated here so you can come back and make changes if needed.

Step 2: Adjust the Mesh

Meshmixer has a lot of useful tools that allow different kinds of editing, but I'm only going to show you two- the "make solid" command, and then the "smooth" tool.

Once you've got your shape in meshmixer, the first thing you want to do is click the "edit" icon, and select "make solid" from the new menu. This fills in any small gaps, and adds more complexity to the model that greatly improves the smoothing function. You can adjust the size of the gap fill and mesh density to make sure you don't lose any important detais.

Next, use the select tool and double click your model so it turns completely orange. Use the "deform" menu and choose "Smooth". There are more sliders to adjust the overall effect, but it will probably take some trial and error to get the look you want. Once you have it, though, you can export the saved model and bring it back to tinkercad or whatever program you're most comfortable with.

Step 3: Make More!

And that's it! I'm submitting this Instructable for the May 2020 3D printing contest, so please vote for me if you found this useful!

You can see the before and after files side by side in tinkercad here:

https://www.tinkercad.com/things/kxcwvvv4IVZ-power...

I'm also including the finished Scepter file so you can see how it all came together! Happy making!

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