In the past few years, Microsoft has been big in 3D and Mixed Reality. The 3D Builder app from Microsoft is one such classic example that allows one to build, view, personalize, and print 3D models. There is no need to invest in a paid application for most of the consumers. In this post, I will share how to use the 3D Builder app in Windows 10. The app supports all-important 3D printing file-formats including STL, OBJ, PLY, WRL (VRML), and 3MF files.
How to use 3D Builder app in Windows 10
3D Builder app comes preinstalled on Windows, if not you can always install it from Microsoft Store. Once installed, launch the app. Once open, you will have the following options:
- Learn More: Offers tutorial on how to use the app with essential operation.
- New Scene: Blank template to start designing an object/model from scratch.
- Open: You can load the sample model, and recently created models, load object, image, and use the camera.
If you are starting with the 3D Builder, then it is best to pick a model from the Library. There are tons of categories that you can select, and start editing to understand how everything works.
When it comes to importing an image, once done, you can configure how it will look, the size and the depth. So make sure to set the settings correctly.
3D Builder Settings and Menu
Whatever you choose, an existing template or a new model, you will have menus on the top and on the right bar.
- On the right, you have the option to select objects, group them, or remove any of the object (s).
- In the top, you have options to Insert new objects, object operations such as duplicate, editing objects, change the plane, etc.,
- Paint Objects
- Change the view of the objects like shadow, colors, reflections, wireframes, etc.
Lastly, I would suggest you change the settings to match the units with which you usually work. Click on the hamburger menu, and then click on Settings. Here, you can change units, app color mode, and collision. The last option makes sure the objects don’t merge into each other.
Basic Operations & Editing in 3D Builder
Any object you import into the 3D builder supports three navigation methods—Rotation, Zooming, and dragging. Select an object, and you can do all these operations. However, it won’t work alone. You will need to use editing options, which includes:
- Move: You can hold the object, and move it left, right, top, and bottom. When I say top and bottom, it means you can move it below or above the plane.
- Rotate: Using this, you can rotate in any direction using the arrows.
- Scale: If you want to change the size, use the scale option.
That said, you will need to select the option first, which is available in editing bar. Also, you can select multiple objects together and resize them proportionately. Make sure to choose the objects wisely. You will need to deselect the one you do not want. Selections can be figured out as they will be highlighted.
Editing Tools in the Menu
The hideous menu offers exhaustive editing options. They are useful as it helps you operate around the object in the 3D Builder app in Windows 10.
- Duplicate: It will create a replica of the selected object with the same properties.
- Delete: Removes the selected object.
- Center View: Useful when you have a huge landscape, and you want to come to the center of the canvas.
- Mirror: Useful when you want to create a left and the right version of the objects.
- Settle: Useful to find if the printed model will topple off or is balanced just right for a flat surface.
Advanced Editing Tools
Under Edit option, you have advanced editing tools which can operate on the object itself.
- Split and Merge
- Subtract Cuts away the overlapping parts.
- Intersect: Shows overlapping areas of several items everything else is removed.
- Smooth: Coverts edges into round corners.
- Simplify: Reduces the number of triangles of your 3D model.
- Emboss: Add text, signs, or symbols to your 3D model. Useful for branding.
- Extrude down: Allows you to select a height threshold
Time to 3D Print your model
Once done, you can print the 3D model using a 3D printer or save it on the computer for further editing. It is one of the most critical aspects of 3D printing because it costs a lot more than usual printing.
- Click on the hamburger menu and find the 3D print button.
- Next, find the printer or printer service and then print the model.
- If you do not have a 3D printer, you can print it on paper to show to more people.
If you don’t have a 3D printer, you can use online services. 3D builder offers an estimate of the cost, allows you to change material type, change layout size, and more. I would suggest to start with some cheaper solutions and materials and then move for the final version.
Lastly, it can also be fixed by printing the physical models. Errors like thin walls, objects too large to be printed, etc. can be fixed.