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Is there a way to set absolute dimensions of an object. Once I've created a cylinder for example, how can I go back and change the length? I know I can scale it, but I want to set an absolute length and cannot find any panels, tools, etc., to show / edit this data.

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In Object mode :

  • Press N to show the properties panel
  • Select your object
  • You can set the dimension from the panel

enter image description here

Note :

  • These are the dimensions of the bounding box and not the height, width and depth of the cube
  • You can't set the diameter height as you did when creating the object
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Since you mentioned scaling: The above answer allows you to do this; but, in some cases this can cause problems because it applies a transformation to your object, especially if you start working in absolute lengths, like in feet or meters. In order to get scaling back to the original 1.000 scaling and avoid this problem you must apply the transformation to your data.

To do this, while still in Object Mode and the object selected, key [CTRL-A] then select [Scale], this will convert the scale back to 1.000, this in effect removes the scale transformation, and sets the data such that no transformation applies and any scaling will no longer affect your 'absolute' dimensions. It is particularly useful when using absolute units.

If you need absolute values for feet or meters, you can find this setting under Properties/Scene/Units, then select 'Metric' or 'Imperial' and specify the units.

Units Window in Properties

  1. Separate units: will list the units broken down. Example: Imperial: 3.5'=>3'6"
  2. Scale: Blender Units (BU) per unit measure. Example Scale Imperial: 1 BU = 1 ft, 0.1 BU = 1 foot, 0.01 BU = 1 ft, etc. (this appears in the grid size)
  3. Metric and Imperial don't mix: For example: Imperial: 3m = 3 mi; Metric: 3m=3 meters.
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  • $\begingroup$ This is also very helpful. I am trying to use Blender to design parts for a 3d printer and need to use absolute values. Thank you! $\endgroup$ – tsm May 23 '15 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ When you get the opportunity, it would be nice to upvote my answer also. Since I also use it for 3D printing; I got that feeling when I read your question! XD $\endgroup$ – Cyberchipz May 23 '15 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a way to actually set the units to inches (imperial now is in feet)? $\endgroup$ – tsm May 23 '15 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ tried to upvote, but won't let me - even after registering - requires 15 reputation? $\endgroup$ – tsm May 23 '15 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I guess I wasn't clear when I said... 'when you get the opportunity'. You'll get there, you can move up more quickly by answering questions. :-) As far as inches go. You have the option on the check box to [ ] separate units, check that. Also, you can enter with standard unit markings like: 3'7" and with the units separated, they will display correctly. Otherwise it's in decimal. 3'6" becomes 3.5' $\endgroup$ – Cyberchipz May 24 '15 at 14:15

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