Please help me.... I am trying to export a smoke simulation as a mesh (I mean the smoke 3D volume) for 3D printing it! I cant find how to do that anywhere, does anyone know?

Thanks a lot! Sorry if it is unclear. It is hard to explain. Emiliano

  • $\begingroup$ Smoke has no surface, so there is no definite way to make a mesh out of it. The only thing you might be able to do is to implement a marching cubes algorithm and export an isosurface. $\endgroup$
    – maddin45
    May 15 '14 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ Even if you could export the smoke, how the heck would you expect to 3D print it? $\endgroup$
    – Keavon
    May 16 '14 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Keavon I'm not sure I understand . . . If it's a mesh, couldn't you just print it like any other mesh? $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    May 16 '14 at 0:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @gandalf3 Smoke is not a solid object how would you print it? $\endgroup$
    – Qwertie
    May 16 '14 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Qwertieϟ Isn't that the question? How to convert smoke to a mesh? $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    May 16 '14 at 0:47

There's not an easy way to convert a smoke simulation into a mesh; not in Blender at least. I would suggest a different tactic.

Instead of using the smoke simulator, use the fluid simulator. They both use the same basic algorithm. You'll need to toy with the inflow, gravity, and initial force settings. The main difference is that the fluid simulator doesn't deal with turbulence and heat like the smoke simulator does; you'll need to fake it a bit. However the fluid simulator does generate a sequences of meshes as its output. Any of those meshes (stored as .bobz files on your hard drive) can be converted to a "proper mesh" that you can edit and ultimately export as an STL for printing.


Ok I'm late but I was wondering the exact same thing but not to 3D print it. My idea was to make a nebulae (so a still smoke anim).

And I wanted to make it a 3D mesh with a volume shader to orbit around it without huge render times, since nebulaes don't move or evolve in realtime at least.

By reading the last answer I just came up with and alternative idea to test to make smoke a 3D mesh in Blender :

  1. Make a smoke sim
  2. Set up a Particle Flow field
  3. Set up a Particle system with a decent/BIG amount of particles to "replace" the smoke voxel volume by particles driven by the flow field to get the same shape
  4. Use the CubeSurfer Molecular Addon to mesh the particles, play with the 2 settings to get a good particle size/overall shape conservation ratio. We theoretically don't care if our computer suffers during that process since the goal is to get a model which will render fast, not an animation except for the camera by example.
  5. Once we get a sort of "meshed-particles-smoked-shaped type of mesh" of a 3D flowing smoke we're pretty much good to go. But the material is not there yet (in my case maybe a point density or tweaked volume shader) but the problem remains. If it's for 3D printing now we are going to have all the particles as a single meshes which are actually overlapping and you don't want your 3D printer to print inner, useless, thousands of spherical meshes, it is a Waste of time and money.
  6. Now everything must be baked if haven't already. I've never frozen a smoke sim but I've already seen it on YT and it must not be hard to find out. Either way in our case we might just go on a still frame and start RETOPO some smoke (the cubesurfer meshing)!
  7. Print or setup a cool volumetric nebulae shader

Note: All of this is just an idea that I got by reading this topic so I had to write it somewhere, still have to test it though.

  • $\begingroup$ Could you post some screenshots of the process and end results you got? Theoretical only solutions aren't very helpful for future users and hard to follow. Please try to use proper spacing for your future answers so they are easier to read. $\endgroup$ May 30 '17 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ I knew while writting that i wouldn't have the time to test it right now that's why i just wrote my idea. When i'll test it, i will put screenshots.Thanks for the corrections! I actually wrote it the way you corrected it but the comment got send that way and this is my first comment i created my account today to answer this topic. $\endgroup$
    – Romain A
    May 30 '17 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome aboard then, looking forward to your future contributions. Be sure to go through our help center to get a general idea of the site rules and workings. When you update your answer, remember to poke me so we can upvote it and you gain your due credit. $\endgroup$ May 30 '17 at 23:27

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