This Instructable will show how to take a sculpture from Zbrush and prepare the file for 3D printing. The process utilizes Zbrush 3.1 and Rhino 3D, but most other 3D modeling programs will work fine. The final print was sent to a Dimension ABS printer and took about 8 hours to print. This process runs conjunction with another Instrucable that I recently wrote that could be found at: https://www.instructables.com/id/Digital_Sculpting_3D_Printing_and_Animatronics/
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Step 1: Sculpture
The first step requires one to create a sculpture in Zbrush. Sculpt whatever you like. What is important is that you keep the resolution of the model to the proper subdivision level. This model was subdivided 3 times to insure the best print resolution, without creating too large of a file. After the sculpture is finished, export the tool as an OBJ file.
Step 2: Converting the File
The software that the Dimension ABS printer uses requires files that are in the STL format. That means that the OBJ file that is exported from Zbrush needs to be converted. I used Rhino 3D for this. Select the object/objects and export them as an STL file.
Step 3: Printing the Sculpture
Import the STL file into the print software and print the sculpture. There are a wide variety of software packages that can achieve the same results, such as Silo 3D, which I own and use frequently. Most people don't have access to a 3D printer, but there are several services that can product prints for you for a reasonable price such as http://www.shapeways.com/ and http://offloadstudios.com/core/. I have not used either service yet, but both come highly recommended. Either way, the core concepts remain the same. You have to be aware of the resolution and file size that the output machine can handle, while still getting the level of detail you want. I understand that 3D printing is still rather expensive, but as we continue to find new uses for the technology, the price will continue to drop. The integration of these technologies for artistic purposes allows for the realization of ideas that I never thought I would ever be possible. I hope that you use this method and devise your own to create your own art. Please free to ask any questions and leave please feedback to let me know what you think of my Instructable. Thanks!