We know Blender as an open source 3D animation tool. But Blender has also long supported the .STL file format used to export for 3D print and it is very welcome news that there will be additional support within the software to help modelers. These new features will greatly help save users’ time in finding issues with their models.
The new toolbox looks set to have features useful for printing models both with online services such as Ponoko, and also with RepRap or Makerbot 3D printers. Models for 3D printing need to be perfectly watertight, so all their edges need to meet to enclose a volume. For most users this can cause issues from time to time, trying to find where a tiny hole might exist. Existing Blender users will be delighted with these new features, which may also entice new users to try Blender and include it in their 3D pipeline.
One of the most interesting features is the ability to analyse wall thickness and sharpness across a model; allowing users to identify areas too thin to print in particular materials. There is also overhang checking, that will be very useful to users printing with printers such as Makerbots, to help them decide if they want to include support material to print with.
For the upcoming release Blender Foundation has also produced a new 3D print training on DVD. Over three hours long, this tutorial is aimed at beginner through to advanced users. The DVD has been put together by Dutch artist Dolf Veenvliet. For anyone interested in the new upcoming 2.67 features, you can download the release candidate release candidate (RC1) and check out the new features yourself.