MeshMixer, free 3D modeling software
MeshMixer is one of the free 3D software programs provided by Autodesk, which offers several interesting functionalities to help you in your modeling but also in 3D printing processes. Available on Windows and Mac OS, version 3.5 of MeshMixer relies on surface modeling to design any type of part from another model, on a triangular mesh. You can thus combine several shapes together, modify them according to your needs, analyze them before printing and export them in the right format. This free software is relatively simple to use and is intended for individuals, students and professionals who are new to modeling.
In the 3D printing market, modeling is the first step towards the design of a part. In fact, it is a key step since it ensures a large part of the success (optimization of the quantity of material used, orientation of the part, etc.). Many solutions exist today to optimize this process, more or less complex and accessible. MeshMixer is one of them: a free and relatively easy to use solution, it allows you to model your part from another model. In this sense, the software is a little different from a more traditional solution where you can start from scratch.
The functionalities of the 3D software
The first thing to know about MeshMixer is that it is based on triangular meshes that consist of three elements: vertices, edges and faces (or triangles). The vertices correspond to points in 3D space; the edges connect two vertices together and the faces correspond to the association of three vertices.
The software takes its name from its first feature, MeshMix. This is one of the key features of MeshMixer: it allows to add different types of meshes via a classic Drag&Drop tool. You can superimpose an arm or a foot on an already imported object. The second feature is the Sculpture tool where the users can, with different brushes, modify and customize their models. For example, you can move vertices to enlarge the piece, deform it, etc. Two types of tools are thus available, volume (3D sphere) or surface (2D disk).
MeshMixer and 3D printing
The reason we are interested in this free 3D software is because it offers interesting features for 3D printing. It provides editing tools to repair your model, for example: using it can fill up holes in a mesh, hollow out your model to use as little material as possible or make it solid to guarantee a good printing. MeshMixer also offers analysis functions to identify possible printing problems. It can check the thickness of the part, its orientation, strength, etc. It is also able to generate optimal print supports.
Finally, the software makes the printing process as easy as possible by allowing the user to choose their 3D printer and material, or to identify a compatible printing service. The model can be viewed directly on the printer platen, which allows to clearly see how the part will be positioned and printed. Several export formats are available such as .stl or obj.
Meshmixer is free and you can download it HERE. Are you planning to try out this 3D modeling software? Let us know in a comment below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages! Sign up for our free weekly Newsletter, all the latest news in 3D printing straight to your inbox!