Preparing a Zbrush File for 3D Printing

So you’ve designed something amazing in Zbrush, you’ve got a 3d printer….but don’t no how to get your design ready for print! Well fear not as this blog has got you covered. We will explain our method of prepping Zbrush files so that you get the most out of your creative efforts.

In Zbrush you can forget about geometry these days and purely focus on your designs without a care in the world which is fantastic. But when it comes to exporting models for printing just like exporting models for animation, there are things you need to consider.

The best case scenario is to be able to export a STL file that is both high in detail but also light in terms of poly count so that your printer software is able to cope with the complicated mathematics it has to perform. Generally the higher your poly count the longer you will be waiting to process if at all.

To start with if you have used any layers in Zbrush to detail your model you need to bake these into the geometry. This is as simple as clicking Bake All. The next step is to merge your subtools together if you have more than one object. For example if you have a sculpture of a head and decide you want to add a hat to it but want to print the two together as a solid object you need to merge the two together.

After all the merging is done, we can move on to retopologizing the model. This is where we will connect all the objects together so that there are no gaps in-between your subtools. My preferred method of doing this is to use the Dynamesh tool in Zbrush. With your object selected, raise the Dynamesh resolution to something like 1500 to 2000 and hit Dynamesh. This will make you one very hi res solid object. We couldn’t use this to send to our 3d printer software because the file would be massive and would most likely crash your desktop.

To avoid such frustrating scenarios occurring the next step is to use the Decimation Master plugin which comes with Zbrush. This tool can reduce down the amount of polygons in your model but retain alot of the detail you have endured to create. You must first select your object and then pre process it……this is where the computer does all the hard work while you grab a cup of coffee. Once it has computed you can then select a percentage of decimation you want to occur. This basically means how low do you want to go in terms of resolution. Once you have pre processed the object you can easily undo different levels of decimation and go back to the original giving you the freedom to quickly find the right resolution. When your happy you simply hit Process Current.

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Now you just need to export your file. To do so Zbrush even includes a 3D Printer Exporter plugin which makes it as easy as selecting a size and then a file type. Now your ready to send your awesome design to the printer software and enjoy some time off while the printer does it’s thing!

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