The world of 3D graphics is a complex field, fueling industries from gaming and film to architecture and engineering. 3D artists and designers use specific techniques and processes like 3D graphic design, rendering, visualization, and animation to bring a vision to life onscreen. But when it comes to taking those 3D images and turning them into physical objects - specifically with 3D printing—the science behind it is called 3D modeling.
3D modeling is much more about logistics than other aspects of 3D design because its output is not a final product like a visual of a 3D object. Instead, it’s a mathematical representation of that object, explaining how that object is put together.
3D modeling has opened up a world of possibilities, giving the ability to prototype 3D objects quickly and affordable. The output you typically get from 3D modeling can be any of the following:
3D models printed with a 3D printer
2D images created via 3D rendering
3D simulations of an object or building
3D models are used in a variety of industries, ranging from art and entertainment like gaming, film, and animation, to engineering, manufacturing, medical devices, architecture, and even geology.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the output used to generate these 3D printed models. STL files are the most common file type created with CAD software. These files take the design and convert it into polygon geometry in a 3D space, and the resulting object will be composed of triangles, vertices, edges, and curves.
An important consideration is file resolution, which will determine things like the quality, surface texture, and detail of your printed object. The lower the resolution of the file, the larger the triangles will be, giving the object a more pixelated look. Setting the resolution of the file in the 3D modeling software you’re using allows you to export higher quality files. High-resolution STL files will be larger files, with much more detail—sometimes too much for a printer to process. It’s important to check the printer’s guidelines to ensure you’re exporting the right file size for the equipment.