Cinema 4D 3D Printing Project Settings & Scale

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Instructor Rick Barrett

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  • Duration: 05:27
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Learn how to set an appropriate project scale in Cinema 4D for creating models that will be 3D printed.

Project scale is especially important in 3D printing. Because the 3D printer uses real-world measurements, you’ll want to as well. Learn how to set an appropriate project scale in Cinema 4D for creating models that will be 3D printed. You’ll also see how to adjust the unit display separate from the project scale, and use the CV-ToggleUnits script attached to this tutorial to quickly swap between inches and millimeter display. Finally, you’ll learn how to prevent tearing when working with small elements by adjusting the view clipping.



In this tutorial, we'll look at how to set up your project scale for 3D printing projects and the first thing you need to know is use millimeters. Millimeters is the unit of measure used most in 3D printing because it's metric and because it's small enough to generally express the sizes of the parts that we're going to be 3D printing. So, when you're starting your Cinema 4D project, you're going to want to go in here, to the project settings, which you can get to by hitting control D if they're not open already. And you're going to want to set your project scale here. By default, it's one centimeter, but everything's gonna work out better for you if you switch this to one millimeter and I actually like to go one step further and let me show you why. If I create a cube now and look at it here, its size is 20 centimeters and 20 centimeters is actually a little big for the types of things I'm often gonna be 3D printing. This is gonna be sort of on the large end of my 3D prints, rather than sort of on the medium end of my 3D prints. As a good rule of thumb, when you're creating things in Cinema 4D, especially a real unit scale, to try and make the default cube about the right size for what you're going to be creating. If I go in here to the project settings and I change this project scale to 0.1 millimeter, Cinema 4D internally makes every object 10 times bigger, but then scales it 10 times smaller before it shows the display to you. And so, what we end up with is our default cube is just two centimeters and so, expressed in millimeters, that's 20 millimeters. That's a much more reasonable size, so that as we create things and are working in Cinema 4D, the viewport's going to operate more like we'd expect it to. Objects as we create them, are probably gonna start out much closer to the correct size. So I like to start there, with actually setting my project scale to 0.1 millimeters. Now, you'll notice here that we're still seeing these things in centimeters, and the next step would be to go into the preferences and go into the units section and actually change our unit display here to millimeters. And this part is actually your own preference, how you wanna view your units. You can also turn on auto convert units, which will automatically convert to a larger or smaller unit as your number gets very large or very small in the decimals. Another thing I do, simply because I'm an American and I still haven't quite come to terms with the metric system, is I've created this script that simply toggles the units between millimeters and inches, and I'll provide this on the Cineversity toolbox. I just add this into my layout right here, because that way I can easily click this and see that this three-quarters of an inch, and click it again and I'm back into millimeters. It makes it really quick rather than having to jump into the preferences. And again, all this is doing is changing the view display of the units. So internally, Cinema 4D still knows that the scene is in millimeters. Another thing that you might need to do, because we're working with objects that are generally fairly small, especially if you don't set your project scale to 0.1 millimeters, is you may run into problems with the view clipping. By default, the view is gonna be clipped from 0.1 millimeters to 10,000 millimeters and when you start working with the really small stuff, you'll actually end up clipping a portion of your object. So, I'll see if I can. . . It's hard to reproduce because I actually set my project scale properly but, there we're starting to see the clipping. It's actually so close to the camera right now. We'll actually make it huge so that you can see it very easily. So, here you can see that that's starting to clip out. And so, what you're gonna wanna do generally is switch this into small or tiny, and what that does is it sets the Open GL clipping with the notion that all of your objects are going to be between this size: the near size, and the far size. So, if you start to see your objects sort of tearing as you dolly in and out, the view clipping is the solution there. Now, even though we've set the project scale to 0.1 millimeters, you actually don't need to worry about anything as far as the .stl export scale. You'll just export it directly at one millimeter. So, we'll call this cube and you do want to set this to millimeters, but, you can just leave the scale at one and hit Okay. And now, if we jump into the MakerBot software, for instance, and load this file. . .and we'll jump in here and look at the scale. You can see that it's 20 millimeters, which is the same 20 millimeters that we see in Cinema 4D. So that's how we set up our units in order to scale properly for 3D printing.
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