Products and Design

Tutorial Tuesday 10: Modeling for 3D Printing with Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is a powerful, professional modeling software program that can be used for 3D animations, motion graphics, and generating 3D effects. It’s also fairly intuitive, and can be used to create and export models suitable for 3D printing. Already using Cinema 4D? This post will help you figure out how to prepare your models for exporting to STL or VRML format for 3D printing. Or, if you’re new to Cinema 4D and want to learn the basics, we’ll start at the beginning with some beginner tutorials.

Getting Started with Cinema 4D

For a quick overview of how Cinema 4D works, check out the walkthough video Intro to 3D printing with Cinema 4D from The Hive. This screencast takes you quickly through the creation of a 3D-printable alien tentacle-skull design from scratch in Cinema 4D, and along the way shows you how to handle Boolean operations, work with NURBS modeling, import images from Illustrator, and prepare your model for exporting to STL.

If you’re a complete beginner to Cinema 4D, you can get started by learning along with the detailed video tutorial Cinema 4D For 3D Printing – Episode 1 – The Basics from the YouTube Print 3D Channel. This video walks through all the basics for placing, moving, and sizing objects, and for using layers to organize the elements of your design. One great thing about this particular video is that it focuses on using Cinema 4D specifically for 3D printing, and will show you how to set up your workspace, choose appropriate scale settings, and understand which Cinema 4D effects are intended for animation/visualization and which can be used to modify physical 3D models. 

The video above is just one of many useful Cinema 4D video lessons from Print 3D Channel; another one worth watching is their walkthrough video Making The Print 3D Channel Maker Coin with Cinema 4D. For more information on exporting Cinema 4D creations to STL or VRML formats for 3D printing, check out the Modeling in Cinema 4d for Shapeways tutorial.

Diving Deeper

If you have access to the online learning portal Skillshare, then you can take their very in-depth, step-by-step course Spline Modeling for 3D Printing in Cinema 4D by John Burdock, which covers basic B-spline modeling as well as how to prepare your model for exporting to Shapeways for successful prints in specific materials. There are also many Cinema 4D courses on Lynda.com, but the Skillshare course is the only one that is specifically from the perspective of using Cinema 4D for 3D printing.

For those interested in 3D printing mathematical objects with Cinema 4D, check out the Mathematical Visualization website by Dr. Elizabeth Denne from the Department of Mathematics at Washington and Lee University:

These instructions walk you step-by-step through the process of importing Mathematica models into Cinema 4D and processing them for 3D printing. For example, check out these quadratic surfaces whose equations are embedded directly into their curves:

In addition to a lot of beautiful pictures of Dr. Denne’s creations, this site includes clear, written-out instructions for an Introduction to Cinema 4D, as well as how to use Cinema 4D to create models for Calculus classes, such as Volumes by Slices and Cylindrical Shells.

Cinema 4D models at Shapeways

Here are three awesome things that were created with Cinema 4D: First, a set of stylish 3D printed cufflinks by Stefan Hepner, designed in Cinema 4D and printed in Polished Nickel Steel, with orange epoxy added after printing.

Second, this rocking Burn heart with music pendant by Andl:shop:

And, finally, this adorable Realistic Cat Coccolino modeled and textured in Cinema4D by Julian Keller for printing in Full-Color Sandstone:

Do you use Cinema 4D? Are you just getting started? We’d love to hear from you. Use the comments section below for questions and answers, or head over to the Shapeways Forum.

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