The next project was to use the 3D model of an object from Colonial Park Cemetery to 3D print. Using the model generated from AutoDesk ReCap 360, I downloaded the .obj file from my profile. The file was downloaded as a ZIP file, which means that the individual files must be extracted to be actually used. Once downloaded and extracted, I removed the mesh file from the folder to allow it to be independent and able to be manipulated.
I began using the program Rhino to import the .obj file and create a solid using the mesh (the thin exterior shell of the 3D model). With an error warning of over 20,000 faces to stitch together, the program simply could not handle creating a solid from so many faces. It froze and crashed. I then tried AutoDesk 3DMax. The program, recommended from previous students, allowed me to check for holes and errors within the mesh. It stated around 50,000 errors. With no prior experience with the program, I decided to try the staff at Fahm Hall, the jewelry building, to assist in closing holes and creating a solid for 3D printing.
The staff at the digital lab at Fahm had no idea how to work with the programs and files I was using for this project. Defeated, I decided to finally download AutoDesk Meshmixer to my personal computer. Once downloaded, I imported the .obj mesh file (only that file) into the program. I began to explore the program and looked online for some assistance when it came to ensuring all of the holes were filled and it was a solid. To get rid of excess ground that I did not want printed in my model, I used the left hand navigation bar to select EDIT-SEPARATE SHELLS. With the pop up box, I deleted every other shell aside from the exterior of the object itself. Doing so removed everything other than the object I wanted printed. I then needed to fill in the bottom and interior space to create a solid object. Again on the left hand tool bar, I selected ANALYSIS-INSPECTOR-AUTO FILL FLAT to create a solid bottom to the object and to fill in any holes in the mesh. A few minutes wait yielded a complete mesh and a bottom. But, it was still not solid.
I went to the tool bar and used EDIT-MAKE SOLID to fill in the model to create a solid object. The program automatically fills in the mesh. To ensure the most detail in printing, I chose “Accurate” for the solid type and made sure that I changed the accuracy and mesh density to the highest possible values. Updating the model produced a detailed final model. I then wanted to mount the object to a simple base. Using the MESHMIXER tool on the tool bar and then selecting a box, I created a 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 0.15″ base for the object to sit on. Then holding down the shift key, I selected both the base and the object and then chose EDIT-COMBINE to fuse the two together.
With the object as one complete solid, it was time to scale it. Knowing that the average and affordable size to 3D print, I clicked ANALYSIS-UNITS/DIMENSIONS to scale the object to my desired sized of 2″ tall. The overall dimensions were 1.402″ x 1.402″ x 2.” Once scaled, it was ready to be saved. I saved it as a .mix file to ensure I could edit it again at a future time, but I also remembered that I was told to save it as a .stl (stereolithograph) file for printing. Choosing a binary .stl (a compressed file to reduce the file size), I saved it to a thumb drive and it was ready to be printed.
Running to Fahm Hall, I filled out the proper from for printing the object in EDM (basic plastic printing). The employee said my file was done correctly and was approved for printing. It was $10 to print. After a day and a half wait (printing and washing in a special solution to remove excess plastic), I picked up the model and it came out much better than I expected.
It was difficult to clearly photograph the text on the monument, and for the program to read and recognize it. Therefore, the Meshmixer and 3D printing was not able to fully capture the details of the text, which was disappointing to see.
The additional resources I used to complete this project are: