June 19, 2018
At MatterHackers HQ, we've been doing some redecorating, and as part of that we are creating 3D prints to hang and display for all visitors or meetup attendees to see. We want them to be unique and something that anyone can design without having a certification with some 3D modeling software. With the Design Tools and Design Apps in MatterControl, it's still really easy to jump in and start 3D modeling. I'm going to take an idea and wholly model, slice, and print it using MatterControl to show you just how easy it is.
Since the MatterHackers logo is a hexagon and hexagons pattern really well, that makes the most sense as a base shape for all the 3D prints. Using the cylinder primitive, I can change the number of sides to 6, effectively making a hexagonal prism. To keep some consistency between all the tiles, I've figured out that a hexagon measuring 150mm from tip to tip is big enough to have a good canvas to model on and yet small enough to fit on most printers.
Now that I have a base, I want to add a raised border to the top of it. The easiest way to do that, is to create a six sided ring, pick how tall I want it, make it the same diameter of 150mm, determine the thickness I want, then raise it up 2mm to rest on top of the base.
Using the align tool, I can select that both the base and the ring are centered along both the X and Y axis.
From here I want to throw some text onto the base; the text primitive makes that really easy. I can change the actual text or the font to whatever I want and the object will update as I make changes.
Now here is where the advanced tools come into play; I am going to apply the "fit to bounds" operation to the text so I can edit it in a very specific way. If I were to change the text to say anything different, then the dimensions would change to keep everything in the same point font; if I used just my first, middle, and last name, then the length of my name would extend passed the edge of the base. By using "fit to bounds" I can specify that no matter what I do to the text, it has to remain within the boundaries I have set. In a sense, this is what makes all the Design Apps work and be configurable.
With the text set to be "fit to bounds" I can now align it to be centered along the X axis, and then instead of directly center on Y, I am going to add an offset by clicking the "Advanced:" switch. This ensures that the text is a specific distance off of center without shifting right or left on X as well.
By dragging in an image (or clicking insert at the top) I can convert that image into an extruded shape. Every image is a little different, so you'll have to play with the options to get MatterControl to select just what you want to be extruded. In this case, my image is my old cosplay logo: a phoenix.
Now that I have extruded the logo, I am going to do exactly what I did to the text, that way the image is always in the same place if I ever want to switch it up with a different image or logo.
And there we go! This hexagon tile is finished, ready to print, and perfectly sized to hang on the wall with the rest of the tiles. I have uploaded this tile as a Design App, so you can go in, modify the text and image, and have your own tile you can print out and send in!
Of course, this Design App isn't the only way to get your print displayed at MatterHackers; we will have an article in the future documenting what specifications these tiles need to have to hang them up so you can utilize whatever modeling software you have at your disposal.
I hope this has all given you a better idea of how Design Tools and Design Apps work and has better enabled you to go about creating your own models in MatterControl and get right to printing functional or decorative 3D prints. Once you've created something on your own or with a Design App, share it with us using the #MatterControl tag on social media.
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