A 3D Printed Chainmail Tutorial

By on October 10th, 2014 in learning

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Have you ever wanted to 3D print fabric? There’s a tutorial for that. 

Fabbaloo friend Roxy Maas of i.Materialise has put together an excellent introductory tutorial on how to design interlocking parts. If you know how to do that, you can repeat the process and create 3D models of chainmail-like objects that, if carefully designed, can flex somewhat like fabric. They won’t be cloth, but do flex using the same principles. 

You are unlikely to successfully 3D print such designs on personal 3D printing gear; instead you’ll need to make use of commercial powder-based equipment that can print in strong nylon. Most 3D print services offer such equipment, including i.Materialise. 

Maas’ tutorial shows a particular approach using Blender and MeshMixer, two free 3D design tools commonly used by many, but she points out there are alternative ways to create flexible designs using commercial software or programmatic tools. But for those you’ll require either money or programming skills. 

Chainmail prints differ significantly from the typical “static” prints made on 3D printers. They move fluidly in a way quite different from prints made from flexible (rubber-like) materials. 

If you’d like to amaze someone, we recommend you try making some chainmail today!

Via i.Materialise

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!