How to Edit/Remix STL Files From Thingiverse – Fusion 360 & More


When it comes to 3D printing files, you may have a design that you love, but you want to make adjustments to or “remix”. It’s possible to remix STL files from Thingiverse with a fairly simple process of using software.

This article will look into how you can begin to edit and remix STL files yourself that are downloaded from places like Thingiverse, Cults3D, MyMiniFactory and plenty more, so stay tuned.

Before we get into the how-to, let’s get into a brief explanation of what people use to modify those 3D printer STL files.

Can You Edit & Modify an STL File?

You can definitely edit and modify STL files, and it can be done using two different types of modeling software:

  1. CAD (Computer-Aided Design) Software
  2. Mesh Editing Tools

CAD (Computer-Aided Design) Software

These types of software are specially designed for construction, precise measurements, and robust modeling.

CAD software was not designed while keeping 3D printing in mind and because of this reason, there are a few things that may differ in their labels or titles.

For example, circles are represented using polygons in 3D printing but in CAD software circles are represented with actual circle symbols.

Therefore, you may feel confused at first while editing on CAD software but with the time you will be able to edit and modify your STL files easily to a great extent.

Mesh Editing Tools

You can edit your STL files using mesh editing tools as well. Mesh editing tools are specially designed and developed for animation, modeling, and objects that are represented by 2D surfaces.

2D surface means the objects that only have a shell on the outer side and there isn’t any filling from inside.

These types of designs can result in thin shells that may not be able to get 3D printed, but can be done through editing and adjustments in these mesh editing tools.

With some simple operations, mesh editing tools can offer you great features and solutions when it comes to editing and modifying your STL files.

How to Edit & Modify an STL File with Software

STL files can be edited and modified by following a few simple steps no matter what type of software you are using for this purpose.

In simple words, you only have to import STL files into the editing software, make necessary changes, export files from the software.

Below is the detailed procedure of some of the best and most recommended software used for editing STL files.

  • Fusion 360
  • Blender
  • Solidworks
  • TinkerCAD
  • MeshMixer

Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is considered as one of the best software for editing and modifying STL files. It is a popular and important tool as it allows its users to perform different types of operations in a single place.

It offers features so that you can create 3D models, run simulations, validate your 3D design models, manage data, and many other functions. This tool should be your go-to tool when it comes to editing and modifying your 3D models or STL files.

Step 1: Import STL File

  • Click on the + button on the top bar to pick a new design.
  • Click on the Create button from the menu bar and a drop-down menu will be displayed.
  • By clicking on the Create Base Feature from the drop-down menu, it will turn off all the extra features and design history will not be recorded.
  • Click on the Insert > Insert Mesh, browse your STL file, and open to import it.

Step 2: Edit & Modify STL File

  • Once the file is imported, an Insert Design box will appear on the right side to change your model’s position using a mouse or inserting numerical inputs.
  • Right-click on the model and click on Mesh to BRep > OK to convert it into a new body.
  • Click on Model > Patch from the top left corner to remove unnecessary facets.
  • Click Modify > Merge, select the facets you want to remove and click
  • Click on Finish Base Feature to go back into regular mode.
  • Click Modify > Change Parameters, click the + button, and modify parameters as you want.
  • Click on Sketch and put a center using angles.
  • Go to Create > Pattern > Pattern on Path, modify the settings and parameters according to your need.

Step 3: Export STL File

  • Go to the save icon on the top bar, give a name to your file and click
  • Go to the left side window, Right Click > Save as STL > OK > Save.

Check out the video below for a tutorial for modifying STL files.

Blender

Blender is an amazing software for editing and modifying your STL files downloaded from Thingiverse. It includes advanced tools for interpreting and smoothing the model’s surface.

You may feel a bit confused in the beginning because it includes various tools that make it look advanced but with time, you will realize that it is one of the more popular tools to import, edit and export STL files.

Step 1: Import STL File

  • Go to the top menu bar and click on File > Import > STL and then open the file from browsing into your computer.

Step 2: Edit & Modify STL File

  • Click on Object > Edit, to see all edges of your model.
  • Press Alt+L to select all edges or right-click the edge to select individually.
  • Press Alt+J to convert triangles into rectangles.
  • Go to the search bar and type Subdivide or Un Subdivide to change the number of layers of tiles.
  • To extrude, delete, or move different parts of your model, Go to the Options section and use different options such as Vertexes, Face Selected, or Edge.
  • Click on Tools > Add, to add different shapes to the model.
  • Use different options from the Tools section for editing and modification.

Step 3: Export STL File

  • Simply click on File > Export > STL.

Solidworks

Solidworks software is being adopted rapidly by 3D printer users because of its amazing features. It allows the users to save their 3d Designed models in STL file format and provides features to edit and modify the STL files as well.

Solidworks is considered as one of the first software to bring 3D printing solutions for their users.

Step 1: Import STL File

  • To import the STL, go to System Options > Import > File Format (STL) or simply Drag and Drop the file into the software window.

Step 2: Edit & Modify STL File

  • Determine the vertices or parts that you want to edit and click Sketch from the top left corner.
  • Select the Insert Line and create a construction line where required.
  • Connect the midpoints of both construction lines and then oversize it to the extent that it intersects the actual STL file.
  • Go to Features > Extrude, set your surface and parameters and click on the Green Check Mark.

Step 3: Export STL File

  • Go to System Options > Export > Save.

You can get help from this video for a better understanding.

TinkerCAD

TinkerCAD is a software tool that is well suited for newbies. This software tool works on Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG). It means that it allows the users to create and edit complex 3D models by combining simple small objects.

This advancement of the TinkerCAD makes the creation and editing process easy and allows the user to edit and modify the STL files without any hassle.

Step 1: Import STL File

  • Click on Import > Choose File, select the file, and click Open > Import.

Step 2: Edit & Modify STL File

  • Drag and Drop Workplane from the helper section to add holes.
  • Choose the geometric shape that you want to use for your model and resize it using the mouse.
  • Put the ruler where you want to place the geometric shape and move it at the desired distance.
  • Once you have reached the right position and measurement, Click on the Hole option from the Inspector
  • Select the whole model and click Group from the menu bar.

Step 3: Export STL File

  • Go to Design > Download for 3D Printing > .STL

Check out the video below for a nice visual of the process.

 

MeshMixer

This free mesh editing tool can be downloaded from the AutoDesk website. This is one of the favorite tools because of its easy operations and built-in slicer.

This slicer feature provides the users with additional ease as they can directly send their edited model in the STL format to their 3D printers to start the printing process.

Step 1: Import STL File

  • Click on Import, browse your computer, and open the STL file.

Step 2: Edit & Modify STL File

  • Click Select and mark different parts of your model.
  • Press Del from the menu to delete or remove the unnecessary marked tiles.
  • To open different forms for the model, go to the Meshmix
  • You can select various options from the sidebar such as letters.
  • Click on Stamp, choose the patterns, and draw them on the model using your mouse.
  • To smooth or extrude different parts of the model, go to the Sculpt

Step 3: Export STL File

  • Go to File > Export > File Format (.stl).

Hopefully you guys find this article helpful in finally learning how to edit those STL files to fit your vision on how you want them to look. I’d definitely recommend spending some time in your chosen software to really learn how to use it.

Fusion 360 seems to have the best capabilities in terms of technical and functional 3D prints, but for artistic, visual 3D prints, Blender and Meshmixer work great.

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