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Blender

Discussion in 'CAD' started by T_Robert, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. T_Robert

    T_Robert Well-Known
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    Has anyone used Blender to create your 3D models? Blender is free and also very complicated. But, it can export the .stl file for carving with Estlcam. I'm in the process of learning the program and will check back when I have successfully cut something.
     
  2. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    You can make .stl files in Sketchup and Fusion 360. Blender seemed overly complicated to me, but I am not sculpting art work. Fusion 360 seems the simplest to me. If I am doing 2.5D objects (ie stuff that can be machined from one side) with Estlcam, I do not even model the part in 3D in Fusion 360. I just draw the outlines of the shapes, slots, and holes then save the sketch as a .dxf and open it in Estlcam. It has simplified my workflow.

    Fusion 360 is free. Fusion 360 | Free Software for Hobbyists, Startups & Makers | Autodesk

    Here are some classes to help quickly get you up to speed. Instructables CNC Classes (utilizing Fusion 360)
     
  3. T_Robert

    T_Robert Well-Known
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    Yea, I get that there are a number of options for 2D and 2.5D carving. Unfortunately I am currently under the misguided belief that more detail will ultimately make my product worth more. I do like the way Aspire works. For relief work it makes things very simple and is flexible. But at 2k$ I'm not ready to fully implement it into my work flow. Blender seems complicated at first glance. But I have been doing an online class and the more I use it the less mysterious it is. And it will enable me to sculpt to any level of detail 3D objects that then "hopefully" will be producible by my workbee and estlcam.
     
  4. ljvb

    ljvb Journeyman
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    I'm curious now. I have not used blender in decades. I'm a Unix/Linux/freebsd guy, in that sense if I did not have a massive VM cluster that I have a windows workstation, I would probably also be using blender. But honestly, it is overly complicated compared to fusion 360. I would also be worried about generating monster sized gcode with the level of detail you are looking at.. not sure if that would affect the performance of whatever controller you are using.
     
  5. ljvb

    ljvb Journeyman
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    Well, Google blender-cam, it's a blender module for CNC work, but it has limitations. So buyer beware.
     
  6. T_Robert

    T_Robert Well-Known
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    Well, I looked at Blender Cam. It sounds good but it is not Blender. Blender Cam is a Blender add-on that should create g-code for your machine. Also he offers a 3d relief add on to those who helped him fund it. It looks like it could do nice work. But I have stopped looking at Blender-Cam. And controlling your poly count is important. The fact that Blender can exceed any PC's ability to process is a plus not a minus. It just means you need to know what you are doing if you plan to do it.

    However, I am still working on Blender. And I will say those dang Brits made it differently than Fusion 360. I never have used Fusion 360. But I have used Inventor. Inventor is a very cool program. That said, Blender will do a better job of creating the 3d relief artwork that I want. The best program to do the 3d relief cutting would be Vetric's Aspire. Aspire has some cool tools that can help you create 3d reliefs out of images. It also can take a vector file and create the wooden or metal object you want to imagine. Aspire takes the vector and adds it to a work piece of your choosing. Then you create the thickness of your object using the outline vector line. That line can be several vectors. Which then can be used to create different segments of your object or relief. The last step is a sculpting tool, similar to an Adobe cloning tool. With the sculpting tool you can add or subtract from your object till you like it. I haven't actually made it through to generating g-code and cutting. But Aspire can produce g-code. And with the g-code you should be able to use Open Builds g-code sender program to cut your piece.

    Now, why did I explain Aspire when I am supposed to be talking about Blender. It's always a journey. Vetric's Aspire is about $2k. And it offers a limited set of tools for creating some very nice sculpture or relief works for cutting on your cnc machine. It also generates g-code which has to be fed to your machine.

    Blender offers everything Aspire does and way more for creating 3d reliefs or sculptures. I've been studying blender now for several weeks and I am convinced it will be everything I will ever want for creating the 3d reliefs that I eventually plan to market. That said though the learning is a little tuff. Those Brits think and speak differently and that little gap has made my journey thus far difficult. Blender relies of hundreds of short cut keys to start tools and processes. It is advisable that you . 1) be very patient. 2) find a beginner video tutorial, I have several. A step by step approach is important.. Because if you did not know that ctrl-J joins objects then you would have a very hard time using vectors in blender or editing more than one object at a time in Blender. Blender has a huge functionality. I am sure that one day I am going to be good at using it and I will always be able to create what I want with it. Might even get into making cartoons one day.

    With Blender you can create any 3d artwork you may want to define. A cad program like auto cad is probably simpler and more appropriate to 2D or 2.5D cutting. Estlcam likes .dxf files for 2D cutting. And .stl files for 3D cutting. 3D printing companies and individuals use Blender quite a bit for their 3D models. I guess us wood workers are not so tech savvy. But you can look to 3D printing tutorials for creating your cnc models. It's the same type of object. And a .stl file will be required for Estlcam to create your g-code and then feed it to your machine.

    To recap. Blender is an awesomely complex piece of software intended for 3D artwork, image rendering and animation. I believe I read somewhere that the founder of Blender is in fact a part of Pixar Studios, don't quote me on that. If you want to make unique 3D reliefs of models for printing or cnc machining Blender can do anything. You will need to check your model and make sure that it has been created with out any open spaces or hidden faces. Blender has an add on that assists with this process. And 3D printing tutorials will help you figure this part of it out. Once everything is right Blender can export the object to an .stl file. That file will need to be run thru a program like Estlcam. Estlcam will take the .stl file and allow you to create a work piece and then select your cutting tool. Then Estlcam will calculate the cutting path. Estlcam is set up to create a ruff cut and then a finish cut for your 3D face. This is my software chain at this time. Maybe one day, when business is brisk, I will purchase Vetrix Aspire and stream line my work flow. But by that time I will also have a serious machine and no longer be using g-code and my Work Bee. It's a journey.
     
    #6 T_Robert, Mar 17, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  7. Alex Chambers

    Alex Chambers Openbuilds Team
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    I know nothing about blender, but on a VERY simple level and slightly off topic compared to the sophistication you guys are talking about, Cura can take a bitmap (eg jpg) and create an stl file by treating different tones as different levels - not true 3d but it will "smooth" the steps between levels.
    Alex.
     
  8. T_Robert

    T_Robert Well-Known
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    I
    Thx Alex
     
  9. GrayUK

    GrayUK Openbuilds Team Elder
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  10. T_Robert

    T_Robert Well-Known
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    Alex, I like the way Cura created a surface out of an image. I'm going to look deeper into that. Hopefully I can set the table size large enough.
     
  11. T_Robert

    T_Robert Well-Known
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    I'm looking at it now GrayUK. Thank You!
     
  12. Alex Chambers

    Alex Chambers Openbuilds Team
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    Just a word of caution - some "paint" programmes create different tones with pixels of different colours - Cura tries to allocate a layer height to each pixel!
    Alex. :eek:
     
  13. GrayUK

    GrayUK Openbuilds Team Elder
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    T_Robert.
    There are quite a lot of instruction videos on YouTube. :thumbsup:
    As usual, the one you really want will be in a foreign language! :banghead:
    Or no audio, which is like an egg timer without sand. :D
     
  14. T_Robert

    T_Robert Well-Known
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    Scotty Orr likes this.

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