I am looking to use blender to design some basic human modelling and hoping to have my designs manufactured by injection molding.

Before I buy a new PC and invest a year or so of my time finding my way around Blender I would like confirmation of the processes and possibly some examples of how easy/hard it is to export a blender design/file so it can be opened by an autocad operative to begin the manufacturing process.

My designs will contain a level of detail but will effectively (I hope) be just the external (single) skin mesh.

Update

After several days of searching, I find the following add on/extension - http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?136439-DWG-DXF-exporter-release-%282-49%29/page5

I suspect that this thread is talking about the predecessor of the export options mentioned bellow and I can now simply export as DWG/DXF format without having to use too many complex options? Is the extension now shipped with Blender or is it still a "plug in"? Again, this is quite a specialised and highly specific issue so thanks for the perseverance. Similarly if anyone knows of a specific location for specialists of this nature feel free to post, thanks.

Update 2

After a quick conversation with my AutoCAD engineers, they tell me they are most comfortable using .STL file types - a file type found in SketchUp and also used effectively by pro/ENGINEER. Any information regarding Blender3D exporting files in .STL such as supported/unsupported features and also if anyone has ever worked through the process I would be grateful to hear. Thanks again.

• You'll need to export to a format auto-cad can accept. Please list those formats, and we can tell you how blender performs (if at all) when working with each of thme – GiantCowFilms Mar 16 '15 at 14:40
• Hi, thanks for the speedy response, I see that the native file format for autocad is .DWG and it also seems to use .DXF as a go between "intermediary" file type. It seems that autocad can open in region of 100+ file types so I will speak to my autocad partners and see if I can work out a way to narrow down the search. Thanks again for the response, help is always appreciated! – joe clifford Mar 16 '15 at 15:23
• @joeclifford What version of AutoCAD are you using? I have never attempted to export from Blender to AutoCAD, but I would use Blender's FBX exporter as I believe it is the most developed. In my experience AutoCAD will accept pretty much any file, and as FBX is owned by Autodesk I presume that will work. – PGmath Mar 16 '15 at 16:17
• Thanks PGmath, the Autocad version that my manufacturers are using is 2015 but they also have access to previous versions "in house". FBX sounds good as you say it is worked by Autodesk. I'll look into it and see what the manufacturers say as to their preferred format. Thanks again. – joe clifford Mar 16 '15 at 18:45

It looks as if there are two exports that blender can do for AutoCAD, both are .dxf one has a stability problem; they can be found in the user preferences.

All you have to do is enable them and your golden! export whichever/whatever you want straight out of blender and into AutoCAD.

• Thanks for the reply, certainly .DXF seems to be the "go to" file type for importing to autocad from what I can find on line. I see two articles on wiki.blender for two extensions but they were released for Blender v 2.42 and v 2.63 and possibly pre-dated the export options you mentioned. Also the stability problem you mention is a concern so I'll keep investigating and thanks for the encouraging words and the information. – joe clifford Mar 16 '15 at 18:23

The Add-on that performs this export has a bug that stopped the dxf layer name being exported when I tried it. Everything was just being exported as layer 0.

I really needed the layer info to control my cnc router so I learnt enough Python in a day to discover that the KWARGS weren't being passed into one of the routines in the script mesh_exporter.py

In my system, the file in question is at "C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.78\scripts\addons\io_export_dxf\primitive_exporters\mesh_exporter.py" and the bad line is around line 50

          return self._standard_way(drawing, me, mx, mx_n)


This invokes the routine _standard_way, but the definition of function _standard_way has this form

def _standard_way(self, drawing, me, mx, mx_n, **kwargs):

so I changed the call around line 50 to being

           return self._standard_way(drawing, me, mx, mx_n, **kwargs)


I get good dxf exports that way by specifying a material on each object enad run the export with the options "Export Mesh As: 3DFACEs" and "Entity Layer: Object Material"

There! That's my first contribution to this forum. I hope it helps someone.

• Nice work! Have you checked if it has been fixed in later Blender versions and if not reported it as a bug? developer.blender.org – rob Mar 14 '19 at 14:24
• UV from me too. Maybe submit as a patch to the maintainer on BA. Next up the X3D addon for 2.80 please 8^}... – batFINGER Mar 14 '19 at 15:09

Well, after another full day of searching, it looks like Blender 3D is not the correct tool for the job. I have seen some evidence that AutoCAD can open some designs originating from Blender 3D but nothing with as complex a form/mesh as I am hoping to create, thanks for the help.

IF anyone else is looking to export to AutoCAD from Blender 3D a good place to start is - http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?136439-DWG-DXF-exporter-release-%282-49%29/page5%29

http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.4/Py/Scripts/Export/DXF

You will find the required details for the software extension on the second of the two links above.

I would recommend speaking with an AutoCAD specialist (the most cost effective way is usually to work with the operatives at your tool cutters). Hopefully this thread can help someone else in future.

This is obviously an old post, but I am going to post this so that maybe it'll help someone else in some way.

I've worked with both software and I can definitely say that you will not be able to export a dxf file out of blender and directly give that file to a manufacturer for use. Not that there is no use for the feature as I use it quite a bit to create a sufficient starting point between the two as to not have to recreate my models twice from scratch. (I use blender for creating marketing material for our products) But there will be kinks that will inevitably come up because of the fundamental difference in the mathematics used for both mesh based and parametric modeling. (Though I honestly would think it wouldn't be as big a deal because autocad does seem to have mesh tools but I digress)

Anyway, don't lose hope because most manufacturers use autocad as design software but the actual industrial machines don't use .dwg or .dxf files. They use cnc encodings like gcode. Meaning you can use a converter to convert your .obj file or .stl files from blender into that final machining file type. whatever that may be. Though you would have to know the specific machine and encoding required. Maybe the manufacturer will give you that info.

Though they may not want to use that file for fear of damaging components as you have no way of knowing specific quirks of their machines like their own engineers do. If you spend some time and download a machine simulator that will let you watch the production output of your file on a similar emulated machine, then maybe they'll give you a shot. I don't know.

this is a long and roundabout way of saying that no blender is not useful in this respect until parametric design workflows become integral to the blender community. Which may never happen.

I have made a video about my way when importing from blender or any other 3d software to autocad. Important thing to know is that mesh should have been clean and closed without interlaping if it is needed to be solids in autocad.