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Our Newest 3D Tool: Scaling Your Models for 3D Printing

Date:2016-12-12 Hits:393


Our Newest 3D Tool: Scaling Your Models for 3D Printing


Today Shapeways is growing our suite of 3D tools by launching the ability to scale your model to different sizes during the upload process. This enables greater flexibility for you to purchase models at the price you want and to remedy common printability problems like thin walls and bounding box errors on-site. You will have the option to scale your model by dimension and percentage in two different locations: the Model Edit page so you can see how pricing changes after scaling and within 3D tools for when you are trying to improve the printability of your model.

Scaling your model by dimension or percentage is easy in 3D tools or on the Model Edit page.

Scaling your model by dimension or percentage is easy in 3D tools or on the Model Edit page.

Scaling empowers you to quickly and proportionally resize models to exact specifications so art, home items, games, and other products can be adjusted without using 3D software and then having to re-upload the model.

Scaling can be used by experienced designers and is easy enough for beginner designers and modelers with limited to no modeling experience. For example, the availability of 3D scanned people, monuments, art, and objects of all sizes available on sites like Sketchfab offer a new source of 3D printable content and inspiration. Now, with the option for simple, straightforward scaling that requires no modeling experience, novice to experienced designers can make incredible scanned data like an ancient statue come to life in a size that can fit in your home – and fit in our 3D printers.

Bringing scanned content to life

Sketchfab designer Nebulousflynn’s scanned model of one of the daughters of the sea-god Nereus from the Nereid Monument constructed in 390-380 BC is well over 5 feet (or ~1.52 meters). Using the new scaling tool on Shapeways, you can reduce its from a statue that would take considerable space in your living room to a stunning miniature in full colored sandstone you can place on your bookshelf. Simply download the model like this from Sketchfab, upload it to Shapeways, scale it down – and we will 3D print it!

Scanned model of one of the daughters of the sea-god Nereus from the Nereid Monument by Nebulousflynn, a designer at Sketchfab

Scanned model of one of the daughters of the sea-god Nereus from the Nereid Monument by Nebulousflynn, a designer at Sketchfab

Printability plays a key factor in determining what size to print a scanned model. If the scanned model contains thin walls, you can increase the size of the model within 3D tools to thicken the walls while checking on the bounding box to ensure you aren’t making it too big to print in your desired material. Increasing the size can also ensure that small details are visible. Humanti’s statue of a woman carrying a harvest, Heykelhigh2suport, presents a great example of bringing existing scanned data to life, while making sure that the model is large enough to show all the details that make it beautiful.

Beautiful scanned model called Heykelhigh2suport by Humanti, a designer from Sketchfab

Beautiful scanned model called Heykelhigh2suport by Humanti, a designer from Sketchfab

Finding the right scanned model to work with when considering file formats, model completeness, licensing and attribution, and other factors can sometimes make 3D printing a scanned model tricky. Check out our tutorial to help you navigate these considerations.

Empowering entrepreneurs with greater pricing and model size consistency

For entrepreneurs who are using 3D scanning to capture new models, scaling offers additional controls to price and size products consistently.  Scanned data often introduces a lot of variability, especially when you are scanning people, because every individual is unique. This creates variability in the cost per printed miniature person; with scaling, as long as you maintain the printability of the model, you can adjust the size of miniatures to create greater cost consistency.  Or, if size consistency is more important, you can make each miniature exactly the same height.

Three printed scans of Dan in full color sandstone in different sizes: from front to back, 10.5cm tall, 12.5cm tall, and 14.5cm tall.

Three printed scans of Dan in full color sandstone in different sizes: from front to back, 10.5cm tall, 12.5cm tall, and 14.5cm tall.

To demonstrate this, we scanned and printed one of our team members Dan using Skanect, a 3D scanning software made by our partners Occipital.  Skanect makes it very easy for users to scan and prep models for 3D printing using a variety of scanning hardware, including Occipital’s own Structure Sensor, and allows you to scale your model by percentage when uploading to Shapeways.  Together, scaling on Shapeways and Skanect allow you to confidently and consistently offer and print your scans at the size or price you want. We printed Dan in three different sizes at three different price points to show how easy it can be.

It’s important to remember that changing the size of a model will always impact both the price and the printability of your model. Check 3D tools after you scale a model to ensure that your new model is printable and you are aware of any changes to how your model may be printed.  Also remember that when you scale your model, it will be saved as a new version of your model which will not carry over any printability data.  This means if you scale an existing “For Sale” model, and scale it to a different size, it will have ‘First to Try’ status.

We hope you enjoy this new tool. Upload a new model or use one of your existing models to try scaling today!