Also published at Shapeways Magazine
Want to design a personalized 3D printed ring for a loved one, but not sure where to start? One way is by using one of the Shapeways Creator Apps to create a ring design from a drawing, based on a woven pattern, or using an encoded cipher.
If you want to design a custom ring from scratch, you could make something simple in Tinkercad, which is a free in-browser modeling program that is very easy to learn and use. To make a more professional-looking ring and have more design options, try the (free to hobbyists) 3D design software Fusion 360. With Fusion 360 you can make a wide variety of ring shapes, and even sweep decorations or engrave text into the ring surface.
But… sometimes the easiest things can be so difficult. Wrapping text around a cylinder, which is exactly what you’d want to do when making a text-engraved ring, is one of those things! Depending on what design program you use, this simple task can seem impossible. Even in simple programs like Tinkercad, wrapping text is a challenge, and options are limited: you can use a straight extrusion if your text is short, or use a special Shape Script tool if you are willing to restrict to a default font. In more sophisticated professional design software, sometimes wrapping text or any other texture around a cylinder results in something that looks nice on the screen but does not actually change the shape of your 3D model in a way that can be printed. Today on Tutorial Tuesday we’ll focus on one surprisingly elegant text-wrapping technique for Fusion 360 that two of my students shared with me this semester (thanks, Sophie and Joe!).
Wrapping Text with Fusion 360 Sheet Metal Tools
What my students found was the excellent YouTube video Wrap Text Around a Cylinder in Fusion 360 by Vladimir from DesktopMakes. Take a few minutes to watch this fantastic design walkthough and its clever use of the Fusion 360 Sheet Metal tools!
Adjusting Ring Thickness
Valdimir’s trick of using the Fusion 360 Sheet Metal tools is genius and it works like a charm! However, the Sheet Metal tools set a default thickness which can result in a ring that is too bulky for our liking. In this Tutorial Tuesday we’ll add some steps to Vladimir’s Fusion 360 workflow to set a better thickness for the ring.
In the spirit of new beginnings, our working example will be a really simple Hello World Ring from our geekhaus shop, perfect for when you’re just getting started with whatever it is you are doing. Here’s what we are aiming for:
Following the instructions in the video, we start by making a Sketch of a circle with a gap in it. Notice that this very first step is where the ring gets sized, in this case with an 18.1mm interior diameter.
At this point we are ready to switch to the Sheet Metal Environment, and implement a Contour Flange to extrude upwards. However, note that we although we have control over how high the extrusion is, we are not given an option to control the thickness. From the screenshot below you can see that the thickness exceeds our target thickness of 1.4mm.
Following along with the workflow from the video, we unwrapped the band into a straight strip and added text, then extruded the text inward to cut out the letters. Since this strip is too thick, we’re going to end up cutting away the outer part of the ring after we rewrap it. This means that at this stage we need to be sure to push the text in far enough to go beyond what we will cut away. Given that the default strip width is 2.5mm, our desired ring thickness is 1.4mm, and we want the text engraving to go at least .4mm into the ring, we calculate that the letters need to be extruded inwards to a depth of 1.5mm:
Now we Refold and exit the Sheet Metal Environment, wrapping the strip back around the circle. After a small extrusion to close up the circle, we make a cylinder as large as the desired outer boundary of our ring. Notice that the boundary of the cylinder is the same as the larger circle we drew in our original sketch:
Our goal was to make a stand-in for the desired form of our ring, so we also cut out the inside of the cylinder to 18.1mm:
After adding Fillets to the inside and outside of the stand-in shape, we used the Combine tool to intersect it with the thicker engraved ring we created earlier. We now have a ring with 18.1mm interior diameter, 1.4mm thickness, and .4mm deep text engraving, and we’re done!
Want to go further, or not sure where to start? Either way, check out these previous Tutorial Tuesday articles for more information:
- To get started with Fusion 360, see our previous article Tutorial Tuesday 15: First Steps with 3D Design Software Fusion 360.
- If you want to try wrapping ring text with Rhino and Grasshopper instead, check out our walkthrough Tutorial Tuesday 19: Wrapping a Thing Around Another Thing.
- For tips on taking good close-up photos of small objects using an inexpensive light box and clip-on macro lens, see Tutorial Tuesday 20: Taking Better Photographs of Your 3D Prints.
- To learn how to use Shapeways Variants to offer multiple sizes of a ring within the same product, see Tutorial Tuesday 12: Get Some Variety With Variants.
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