Modeling in Cinema 4d for Shapeways Rapid Prototype Printing

I’ve printed a few models from C4D at as a 3D sculpture and each time I do this I have to go through a trial and error process to create the model at the right size and specifications. I haven’t found good information that explains what the correct settings are, so for my own benefit and others, here it is:

  1. Set Cinema Preferences to  use Millimeters
  2. Create geometry without using Boolean (seems like Booleans never work once translated to VRML)
  3. Make your geometry a single object, the Connect object works well for this
  4. If you use the Connect object, don’t forget to “Make it Editable” to actually connect it into a single object
  5. Keep polygon count less than 100,000 and it must be less than 500,000. Since C4D uses 4 sided Polygons, this means the actual count should be 250,000 or less in polys.
  6. Since version 11, if you have Advanced Renderer you can check Render>Cineman>Select non-Manifold edges
  7. Export at VRML 2 with the scale set to 1000 [Edit: In C14, if you set your project up in Millimeters, select the Export option of 1 : Millimeters. If you set up using Centimeters, set Export to 1 : Centimeters]
  8. On the Shapeways site, use Millimeters as the measurement, regardless of if you used Centimeters or Millimeters in C4D.

This brings the models in as centimeters, i.e. 100 mm = 10 cm and in Cinema the object is scaled at a reasonable size so it’s easy to work with. Hope this helps other people trying to do the same thing!

Update: Shapeways has expanded my tutorial on their blog, you can read more here.

Related note: I also needed to export models from Cinema 4D to Illustrator using the Export option. For scale, I found 56.5 cm/inch for the resolution worked when bringing the model to illustrator for laser cutting.

5 thoughts on “Modeling in Cinema 4d for Shapeways Rapid Prototype Printing

  1. When using Boolean Operations do not use HQ this setting will produce non manifold results. Do Boolean on editable Object, turn it into a single object and fix errors immediately. Never concatenate Boolean Operations.

    I would not recommand C4D for Shapeway Objects instead learn Blender – which is Free and More Powerful.

  2. Hi Bryan,

    I’m trying to get the right conversion from Cinema 4d to Illustrator. The units in Cinema are set to cm, but when I import the model into illustrator the object’s originally 100 cm is then 2.756 cm. Whatever I place in Cinema’s illustrator export Scale field seems to have no effect…

    The other way around works perfect, I placed 0.035277778 as the scale number in Cinema’s illustrator Import preferences.

    So basically my question is: how can I get the same measurements when exporting from Cinema to Illustrator? I just can’t find the right answer and your post above was the only thing I could find.

    Any help appreciated!

    Thx, Erik

  3. We are a color3dprinting service provider and can turn parts around much more quickly and accurately than Shapeways. We use identical machines, and our parts don’t take two weeks +. If you’re interested, check out our web site and/or email me directly: I’d be happy to proof your file and give you a quote to the penny.

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