Making Blender Do Things That CAD Can Only Dream Of

3D Printing & Imaging Maker News
blender geometry nodes for 3d printing

I was browsing through TikTok during my morning coffee. Don’t judge me, if you’re not on new platforms you’re missing out, no matter how “cringe” you feel they are. This video below popped up and absolutely blew me away.

@the.well

Blender > Traditional CAD and I’ll will fite u. #blender3D #cad #3Dprinting #geometrynodes

♬ original sound – Joe Bowers

This short clip shows Joe Bowers explaining how he’s doing some incredible magic in Blender that would be extremely difficult in CAD packages like Fusion360 or Solidworks.

Let me explain what is going on here, just in case you’re unfamiliar with parametric modeling, blender, geometry nodes, or whatever the heck is happening in that video.

CAD packages like Fusion360 have the ability to set something as a value that you can change on the fly. It’s great. A good example is that if you’re designing laser cut pieces that have to slot together, you can set your material thickness and all your slot thicknesses to a specific variable, then later adjust that variable to match your raw material. That single adjustment will update all the proper parts in the file and your model will fit together nicely. It’s a system that is available but it is also cumbersome.

Previously, in my opinion, Blender kind of sucked for CAD as it lacks some basic scaling and dimensional tools without considerable workarounds. But, with the Geometry Nodes system that Blender introduced a few versions ago, you can use a visual graph to make all kinds of things happen and this has opened the doors to incredible tools like what Joe is showing off above. He’s creating scripts that allow for all these adjustments to physical models without writing a single bit of code and that’s pretty amazing.

Here, check out another example of what he’s able to do without writing any code.

The drawer system he shows above is really impressive and actually has a few updates since then. Due to the overwhelmingly great response he’s gotten from posting these things on TikTok and Instagram, he’s decided to open-source this specific project so you can download it and play with it yourself.

It turns out that Joe isn’t just incredibly smart about how to use geometry nodes in blender to automate some 3d printed model creation, he’s also a fantastically smart educator. He’s offering lessons to teach people how to make their own stuff in geometry nodes. However, instead of just making a video telling you what buttons to push, he’s cleverly using geometry nodes to teach you how to use geometry nodes. I think that’s brilliant. You download an interactive scene within Blender that uses the same tools you’re learning in order to teach you how to use those tools. It’s recursive, its interactive, its clever, and I love it.

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. email me at hello (at) calebkraft.com

View more articles by Caleb Kraft

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