Cinema 4D for 3D Printing: What Do You Need to Know?

Published on March 31, 2023 by Madeleine P.
Cinema 4D

Starting the journey to get a 3D printed part usually means creating a 3D model, which is the essential first step in the process. While pre-made models are readily accessible on platforms such as Thingiverse, Yeggi, Printables, MyMiniFactory, and others, the necessity for customized or specifically tailored parts often demands the creation of a unique model. This task relies heavily on 3D modeling software, making the choice of software paramount. However, the abundance of options available can make the decision-making process daunting. Today, we’ll delve into one of these many software solutions: Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is one of these 3D software suites offered by the German company Maxon. Since its launch in 1990, this professional tool for 3D modeling, animation, simulation, and rendering has risen in popularity, rivaling the likes of Blender, Maya, and Autodesk 3ds Max. Particularly renowned for motion graphics and game development, Cinema 4D earns praise for its speed, power, flexibility, and, notably, its user-friendly interface. Yet, what might surprise you is its applicability in 3D printing. We took a closer look at the advantages of the software, as well as how you can use it for additive manufacturing below.

Cinema 4D is well known for its ease of use.

Using Cinema 4D For 3D Printing

Cinema 4D is a popular choice among 3D modeling software users, and for good reason. With its intuitive interface, even beginners can find themselves navigating its extensive features with efficiency. Furthermore, it boasts a variety of interesting and helpful tools, including a diverse range of texturing options, an expansive content browser, seamless ZBrush integration, and more. Despite these strengths, Cinema 4D might not immediately spring to mind when considering software for 3D printing. However, this doesn’t discount its viability nor its distinct advantages in the realm of additive manufacturing

First, it is important to know that Cinema 4D natively supports STL files. That means that files of this format can be easily imported or exported. Given that STL is one of the most popular 3D printing file formats, this will come in handy when you are making a 3D object on the platform. Do note, however, that other popular formats, such as OBJ and 3MF, are not available, so for 3D printing, you will need to use STL files. 

Additionally, there are some design considerations to keep in mind. For example, you will want to ensure that you change the size settings and project scale to 1 millimeter and disable Phong Shading, which can be done by deleting the Phong tag. The latter especially is important because Cinema 4D automatically smooths parts using this, but in reality they are made of square polygons. This would definitely not be a benefit in terms of printing. Rather, users will need to adapt their model to make it smooth themselves, this can be done by increasing the number of segments in the model.

It is also important to be able to look inside your model. 3D printers cannot understand objects that are merged together or connected and overlapping. One suggestion is to go into project settings and change the options for View Clipping. By increasing the setting and changing the zoom, you will have access to a cross-section view that will allow you to fix these mistakes before they go to the printer.

With Cinema 4D, you can create highly detailed parts for 3D printing, provided you tailor the software to suit your requirements.

Some final considerations to keep in mind: It’s crucial to ensure that your model is watertight. While modeling software explicitly designed for 3D printing may automatically address this, Cinema 4D, not originally intended for such use, won’t necessarily flag this issue. Fortunately, you can identify and correct any gaps in the mesh by activating the Mesh Check and Boundary Edges features in the Attribute Manager. Additionally, remember to confirm that every wall maintains a suitable thickness. Unlike applications tailored for 3D printing, Cinema 4D, often employed for animation projects where wall thickness isn’t a concern, may overlook this requirement. However, a 3D printer will not be able to read your file without this information.

Overall, it is absolutely possible to make 3D models for 3D printing with Cinema 4D as long as you keep these tips in mind. However, considering that Cinema 4D is a paid software, most 3D printing enthusiasts would be better suited to another software like Fusion 360 or FreeCAD. Still, if you are interested in using Cinema 4D for your 3D printing projects, you can find it HERE.

Do you use Cinema 4D for 3D printing? What do you think of it? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here for the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*All Photo Credits: Cinema 4D

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