In this blog post we would like to introduce our new design tool Meshify. With just a few clicks, Meshify can turn a solid 3D file into a beautiful lattice structure ready for 3D printing. As a bonus, the material consumption and manufacturing price is significantly lower for the "Meshified" parts.
Even though 3D printing is on everyones lips these days, there is surprisingly far between 3D printed parts that truly exploit the potential of 3D printing. Instead we still see 3D printed wrenches, violins and guns. All of which are probably best manufactured in traditional ways, perfected by skilled engineers over the last couple of centuries. In a sense, the manufacturing technology has overtaken the design tools: we used to be able to design parts, which weren't manufacturable. Now we can 3D print parts, which are almost impossible to design. This is in large parts due to the remarkable lack of software tools supporting the designers in making innovative 3D printable parts. Meshify is our first little attempt to offer one such tool.
So let's look at the steps taken to design the lattice bear seen in the beginning of this post (which is a model of the Berlin bear and quite useful as a beer bottle opener... a Berlin beer bear).
First, we upload a standard 3D CAD model of the bear (below, left). Meshify now seamlessly turn the uploaded solid model into a mesh-like lattice structure. Then we fine-tune the lattice parameters, through the simple web user interface (below, middle). In the viewer, the lattice is instantaneously updated when modifying the rod radius. For the bear, we set the radius to 0.35 mm (corresponding to a feature size of 0.7 mm) and we also change the approximate rod length to 10 mm. When we are satisfied with the design, we click the 3D-Button, which transfers the model to 3YOURMIND's price comparison service, where you can compare price quotes from a number of printing providers.
The lattice bear in bronze only costs €39 on Shapeways. In comparison, a solid bronze bear would cost €331, while a hollow bear with shell thickness 0.7 mm costs €72 (and you need to create an exit hole in the shell). In case you want to print it the yourself, Meshify can generate a range of 3D printable formats - including STL - for a modest fee of five euros.
An additional feature seen in both the 3D model and the printed bear, is the solid back feet. This is to improve wearability (after all it is a bottle opener). In Meshify, you simply click the "Add solid" button to upload a separate CAD or STL file which will be rendered solid.
This bear bottle opener is just a small example, but it demonstrate how a lattice structure can be combined with other CAD or STL files to create complex designs beyond anything you can do with normal CAD software. So, there you have it. A simple way to create beautiful structures, which are even affordable to print. Hopefully, our tool will help you unlock another corner of the promised "design freedom" of 3D printing. Stay tuned for our next blog post on the use of topology optimization as a design tool for 3D printing.
Written by Erik Andreassen ·