3D Printing your Zbrush Sculpts: I made it at TechShop (http://techshop.ws)!
This instructable will explain the process to take a ZBrush tool and, by using both the Decimation Master and 3D Print Exporter plugins, as well as MakerBot’s MakerWare, you can create a 3D print of your ZBrush sculpts.
Step 1: Make Sure Decimation Master and 3D Print Explorer Are Installed in ZBrush
To begin with, you need to have both Decimation Master and 3D Print Exporter installed in ZBrush. You can get the plugins, if they’re not already installed and appearing in your Zplugin menu, from Pixologic’s website in the Support > Download Center > ZBrush Plugins section. Installation is straight-forward using the instructions that come with the plugin downloads.
Decimation Master is handy for cutting down the number of polygons in your scultp while retaining details so the MakerBot can process and build the sculpt in a reasonable amount of time. 3D Print Exporter will build the STL file you’ll need for MakerWare.
Step 2: Decimate Your Model to a Level Needed for MakerWare
You can see this model has a fairly low amount of polys (points) for a 3D sculpt, but probably still too much to replicate fairly quickly. I have found a 25-50k polygon model at 60mm per side takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to build on the MakerBot. I’ll use that target for my model by using Decimation Master.
Select Zplugin, Decimation Master, and then Preprocess All. When the preprocessing is completed, give Decimation Master a target poly count, in this case 25,000. The other sliders will adjust automatically. Select Decimate All and take a look at the result. If you need to adjust the poly count higher to address problem areas, you can undo the decimation and start again.
Step 3: Setup 3D Print Explorer and Export to STL
Next, you’ll want to use 3D Print Exporter to export your scult to an STL file. Open the Zplugin menu, and unspin the 3D Print Exporter menu option and be sure to follow the steps as they’re laid out—it’s easy to overlook step 1 and get an oddly stretched result in MakerWare. So, after you click the Update Size Ratios button, you can select millimeter in the next section. MakerWare builds in millimeters, so you want to be sure 3D Print Exporter is set correctly here (MakerWare can also do a conversion). Select one axis, in this case the X-axis, and type in what you want its size to be. The other axes will auto-update. Finally, you can choose to buld all subtools, only what polys are visible, or only which subtools are selected. Once you click the STL button, 3D Print Exporter will build the STL file you’ll need for MakerWare.
Step 4: Optional: Modifying Your Model and Exporting Multiple STLs to Avoid Supports
In MakerWare you will need to select Supports for a model that has a lot of overhang like this head bust. If you do not want to use supports, you can divide up your model using the Slice Curve brush in Zbrush to divide it into polygroups, choosing the widest part of the model so the MakerBot will be, for the most part, only building narrower as it builds the model up. You can then affix the separate parts together. I could have chosen any plane to split this bust, but I chose where I did as it was the widest part of the head but also gave me a decent amount of landmarks to line up the halves later.
Once the model was split into Polygroups, I hid the tools I wanted to split, and used the Split Hidden command under the Geometry section of the Ztool menu. Keep in mind by doing this, your 3D Print will have hollow openings and you’ll probably want to use a bit more infill to ensure enough surface area for adhesion later.
Finally, in the Advanced section of 3D Print Explorer, you can choose to export each Subtool as a separate STL file.