Split Model With Meshmixer. (Free)
As the proud owner of an Ender 3, I get to experience all of the good and the bad that comes with owning a smaller budget machine. These machines are great for hobbyists and tinkerers which is probably a majority of the 3D printing community.
On the good side, I can own many machines and modify and tune them as much as I want. On the flip side, it is a very small machine that isn’t capable of printing large models.
The easiest way to split a model for 3D printing is by lowering the model below the build surface and printing half the model at a time. For larger models, you may have to use software like Meshmixer to split the model before importing it into your slicer.
Simple Model Split With Cura. (Free)
The simplest way to split a model is by dropping the model below the build surface so that only part of the model is printed, then flip the model and print the other half. This method only works if you only need to split the model once.
The catch-22 of this is that typically if a model is big enough for the build plate it will probably print on your printer regardless so you likely will not need to split the model.
This kind of split is great for models that have steep overhangs on the bottom of the part, or a round/spherical bottom.
Step 1. Multiply The Model.
Multiply the model to print both halves at the same time. You can print each half independently so this step isn’t 100% necessary.
Step 2 – Check the Overall Length Of the Model.
Check the overall length of the part by selecting the scale menu. This value is important because when you print the two halves of the model it needs to add up to the overall length in Z in order to have a complete model.
Step 3 – Flip one of the models.
Flip one of the models over by selecting the rotate tab and dragging the model in one axis until it reaches 180°.
You can rotate the model any direction, as long as the model is flipped 180° the direction the model is facing is not important.
Step 4 – Translate The Models In The Z-Axis.
Translate the models in the Z-Axis to sink the model below the build plate which will allow you to print only the section of the model which is still above the build plate.
Lower the model into the build plate on both models to equal the overall height. These values do not need to be equal, and in most cases will not be exactly equal, they only need to add up to the overall height.
Left model (6.5) + Right Model (41.5) = Overall Height (48)
Step 5 – Print.
Once your model is properly split and positioned it is time to print. Obviously, there isn’t really a great need to split a 3D Benchy but for this example, I thought it would be best to use a familiar model.
This will print exactly the same as any other model that you would typically 3D print.
Multipiece Model Split With Meshmixer. (Free)
For more complex models you will need a more advanced software like Meshmixer. With Meshmixer you can import a model, cut it into multiple pieces, and then export the individual pieces to many models for 3D printing.
Step 1 – Download Meshmixer.
Download AutoDesk Meshmixer from the link below. Meshmixer is a free model splitting software from Autodesk that is fairly easy to use and will only take a few minutes (with the help of this article) to split a model into smaller pieces for 3D printing.
Step 2 – Import model.
Import the desired model to Meshmixer. You do not need to do any translations at all within Meshmixer, just cut up the model, export the separate pieces, and import the models into your slicer.
Step 3 – Cut Model.
Cut the model using the plane cut feature (Edit > Plane Cut). Drag the cut plane to the point in the model that you want to cut, make sure “Cut Type” is set to keep both, and press accept.
You can continue to cut the model into smaller pieces until you have the desired sized models for your 3D printing.
There is no need to translate the models at all within Meshmixer.
Step 4 – Separate Shells.
Separate the sliced shells using the separate shells function (Edit > Separate Shells). Upon selecting separate shells an object browser popup should appear which will then allow you to rename the individual objects as well as translate, cut again, or export the models.
Step 5 – Export Objects.
Select the object that you want to export from the object browser and then export it using File > Export or Ctrl+E.
Step 6 – Import Models to Slicer.
Import your cut model into the desired slicer and position it on the print bed to optimize productivity. Often times you will be able to print all of the sliced components on the printer in one print but sometimes you will need to print each cut piece independently.
Step 7 – Print.
You are now ready to print your cut models. These models will print the same as any other model that you might download from thingiverse.
There are many really cool projets that you can do on an Ender 3 and other smaller format printers with a cut up model that would otherwise not be possible. Cutting up a model can expand the volume of your 3D printer exponentially, as large as you are willing to go.
Slicing models is fairly simple if you have the right tools and only takes a few minutes for most models. Something small like a benchy will not need to be cut up like this but it is a great and simple example of what Meshmixer is capable of.