Open Source – Creating a Breastfeeding Origami Owl Charm with Blender and Shapeways

March 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm 9 comments

A girlfriend of mine recently started selling Origami Owl.  It’s a neat concept.  You purchase a “Living Locket” which you can fill up with charms.  Between exclusively pumping for 16 months for my first son and nursing my second son, breastfeeding has played a significant role in my life the last 2.5 years.  It’s near and dear to my heart. Alas, Origami Owl did not have a breastfeeding-themed charm.

A few months ago, I had run across Shapeways, a company that will 3D print your models for you, and I really wanted to try something out with them.  This seemed like a first very easy project to learn Blender and 3D printing!

I still have so, so, so much to learn about 3D modeling, so this post isn’t a tutorial.  Instead, I will be referring to other tutorials and tools that helped me out along the way:

Learning Blender
I downloaded Blender for free from Blender.org.  I watched a few tutorial videos to start to learn the software.  The tutorial that applied most to what I wanted to do the most was “Modelling with Curves” by BlenderNerd.

I did what the “Modelling with Curves” illustrated.  I made a 2D image of what I wanted and then set that as the background to my grid.  My 2D image was based off the Public Domain International Breastfeeding Symbol by Matt Daigle. I had to make some modifications to connect the Mom’s head to her body.

The International Symbol for Breastfeeding

Then I was able to use Bezier Curves to build my object.

Screenshot of Bezier Curve
Using a Background Image, I Traced My Charm In Bezier Curves

I extruded it to give it volume and voila– my breastfeeding charm!

Breastfeeding Charm - Extruding Curve
Extruded Bezier Curve

Now, I specifically wanted to learn Blender and 3D modeling.  If you do not, Shapeways has a 2D to 3D Print Creator to make the model for you.

Locket Size
I had the medium silver locket which is roughly the size of a nickel.  I decided I wanted to keep my charm no larger than 17mm x 17mm.  I was also going to aim to have it no more than 4mm deep. I decided to treat one Blender Unit as 1mm and I scaled my object appropriately.

Converting to a Mesh
When I was satisfied with my curve, I converted it to a mesh. The command was Object->Convert To->Mesh From Curve/Meta/Surf/Text.

Breastfeeding Charm - Converting Curve to Mesh
Converting to Mesh

3D Printing Toolbox
To help me achieve my end goal of 3D printing, I downloaded the 3D Printing Toolbox for Blender.  This helped me out quite a bit by highlighting trouble spots in my model, specifically Non-Manifold Edges and where my walls were too thin.

3D Print Toolkit Checking
The 3D Printing Toolbox Telling Me What’s Wrong

Non-Manifold— Wha?????
Almost immediately, I found out that tons of my edges were non-manifold.  I didn’t know what the hell that was, but I knew it was bad.  I did some Googling.  Non-manifold meant it was an edge that did not connect to two faces.  But… but…but… looking at my model, all those edges looked like they were connecting to two faces.

Looks can be deceiving!  It turns out, I had vertices over vertices.  So those faces along the side of my curve, they weren’t connecting to my breastfeeding curve at all.

Non Manifold Edges - Vertices Over Vertices
Oooh… My Faces Aren’t Actually Connected! No Wonder!

What I did to fix it was just delete the duplicate vertices (which deleted my side faces) and then created new faces with the correct vertices that were hidden below my bad faces.

Made New Faces
Making New Faces

A big hat tip to the “Fixing Non-Manifold Models” tutorial over at Shapeways.  Specifically, the video under “Open objects: coincident edges” was an excellent illustration of what my models issue was.

Thin Walls
I also had an issue with thin walls.  The Shapeways Material Comparison Sheet tells you the different specifications for each type of material.  Sterling silver, for example, requires walls that are 0.6mm apart.  The plastics, which I wanted to print my initial model on because it was cheap, required 0.7mm.  The hole that made up the baby’s head…. well, it was too close to the wall that outlined the baby’s body.

Uh Oh Thin Faces
Uh Oh… Those Yellow Faces Are Too Close Together. They are a “Thin Wall”

I did some rescaling of my object and moving of the baby’s head to fix the issue (which I got to learn the Border Select for).

Export to STL and Upload to Shapeways
Once I had my Non-Manifold Edges and my Thin Faces eradicated, following the “Preparing Blender Files for 3D Printing” tutorial from Shapeways, I rotated my model 90 degrees along the X-axis and exported it to STL file.  The 3D Printing Toolbox in Blender was warning me about “Overhanging Faces”, but that did not hinder my model from being accepted by Shapeways.

Thanks to all the tutorials and research, my model file returned no errors on its initial upload.  If I knew that, I may have named my model file something other than “breastfeeding-first-shapeways-submission”.  :)  I was expecting multiple iterations and a lot of trial and error.

I ordered a version in Hot Pink Strong & Flexible Plastic and a version in Alumide.  Because my models were so small, they were very economical – just a couple of dollars! I expected once I saw my prototypes I would order one in the more expensive silver, but I have found myself satisfied with the plastic versions.

A few weeks later, I had my breastfeeding charms, which fit perfectly in my Origami Owl Living Locket!  So now I have a breastfeeding charm in my Living Locket! :)  My camera had a horrible mishap this winter, so behold my charm via my cellphone camera. It currently hangs out in my Living Locket with birthstones for my two sons.

Breastfeeding Jewelry - Mother's Day - Origami Owl Plate
Breastfeeding Charm in Raw Bronze

If you happen to want the Living Locket version, you can order one for yourself at Shapeways. I have a prototype of a pendant version on order that I should see in a few weeks. If all looks good, I’ll make that one available as well. Also feel free to download the model for your own projects! Go Public Domain!

Breastfeeding Pendant
Pendant Version Coming Soon…Hopefully!

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Entry filed under: 3D Printing, Blender, Breastfeeding. Tags: , .

Hack TJ 2013 and Balancing Work and Family A Positive Story About My Two Year Old’s Cavities

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. narami  |  March 6, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    That made a beautiful locket Vicky! And my brain didn’t explode with the process explanation, awesome.

    Reply
    • 2. tgaw  |  March 7, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Thanks. Learning the 3D modeling has been a fun hobby. I’m trying to think of something to 3D print my brother for his upcoming birthday! (I don’t think he’ll want a breastfeeding charm or pendant hehe)

      Reply
      • 3. narami  |  March 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm

        Turning the creation into an actual object, so much fun.

  • 4. Sofia Peter  |  March 10, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Nice and intelligent idea. This information is meritorious. For more information about some stylish and trendy information one can visit

    http://www.babyshoecharm.com/

    Reply
  • 5. Allia Jecob  |  March 12, 2014 at 4:46 am

    A brilliant idea is shared by you here. This information is revealing and benevolent. For more details about some beautiful jewelry one can also visit

    http://www.romante.com/baby-charms.aspx

    Reply
  • 6. Robert Lee  |  March 15, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Wonderful idea and intelligent solution. I’ve never heard of alumide but I would assume from the name it’s a metal/plastic composite material. I need to look that up. Thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
    • 7. tgaw  |  March 27, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Yeah it feels like plastic, but has metal sparkles in it. Looking at the Wikipedia page, I’m led to believe it is a material that is specifically for 3D printing.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alumide

      Reply
  • 8. heart pendant  |  May 31, 2014 at 5:31 am

    I rally admire your blog. Information shared by you about jewelry design is really benevolent and commendable. For some classy collection of jewelry one can also visit

    http://www.heartpendants.com/

    Reply
  • 9. meshtriciattolo | Leverage Marketing  |  August 16, 2014 at 1:52 am

    […] blog post detailing my modeling process with links to helpful tutorials is at tgaw.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/open-source-creating-a-brea… Mark Leverage Online Domination and Offline Business Marketing Consultant Featured Author: […]

    Reply

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