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Can VW export a 3D shell object to a 3D printer or do you need other softwa

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I've made an egg in VW as a solid object, starting from circles stacked on top of each other & then converted each to nurbs, then used the loft surface tool & made a solid object. Then I needed to cut the egg in half to make a shell of each half so a light can be installed inside the egg shell. I have found out the split tool on the solid whole egg will only split the egg horizontally, when I try vertically at the center line, it does not split the egg, when I go horizontally it works fine. Then I use the shell tool & select max polys for an inside shell, it works great. I can see the shell of the egg in both halfs. Then I export to a STL file ASCII type with max polys. When used in the 3D printer, the results are not the same thru the entire printing of the egg. The owner of this 3D printer is saying I need a better 3D software that VW is not the best software for doing 3D printing.

Just looking for a VW users advise on this matter.


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

If you can send me that STL I can see where the problem lies specifically.


There are some shapes that export to STL improperly for 3D printing still, but I have actually made a few similar shapes to that in VW that 3D printed just fine.

You may also find this useful:


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It sounds like a geometry error is being created. I would bet some of the normals in your STL are flipped, something I have seen with VW before.

I would suggest a different approach to splitting the egg. Instead of using the split tool, draw a 3d solid by extruding a rectangle and use subtract solids to get half of your egg (it should work horizontally or vertically). From there use the shell tool and select the flat surface generated by splitting it to generate your shell. The resulting geometry should be much cleaner.


Edit: When I tried it didn't work quite as expected. The egg I generated was a NURBS surface so it ended up hollow like yours. I created it using Revolve with Rail from the Model menu. I started with a profile, the centre axis and a circular rail. I've attached the file. The resulting STL was error free.

Edited by Kevin McAllister
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no problems Jim, the stl file is to large to send. So I'm trying converting the shell object to a generic solid & re-exported it to a stl file. I noticed the file size stayed the same, not that it should or should not. Once the existing egg half that is being printed we will try the new generic solid version.


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no problems Jim, the stl file is to large to send.

One thing I would recommend is using the binary option when exporting STLs (this is different than Jim's recommendation in the knowledge base article). I've found that binary STLs are much more efficient on space. 3D printing tends to generate a lot of files so this can be important over the long term.


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Thanks Jim & Kevin for this info, its been very helpful! I am trying the various recommendations & will try 3D printing the new versions. Once we have a correct egg out of the 3D printer I will post back to let you know which worked best for us.

Thanks again !

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Just to let you know, the last egg printed out good except for close to the top of the egg, the printer for some reason makes the shell very thin, thinner than the thickness of the shell I made. This has happened to all versions no matter which director the egg is printed. This I believe is a 3D printer setting &/or the software that runs the printer. But the curved shape of the egg did come out much better. This last version that was printed (1/32" thk.), which now electrics says is to thin, so they are using the previous version & correct any seams, patchwork, etc. in post visual effects.

Thanks again for your help & advise on this. I feel much more knowledgeable for the next 3D printer project they request. I'm happy to be able to do this egg in VW, because everybody else here in the "Under The Dome" productions art department uses SketchUp & knew they could not do this as well as VW does.

Thanks again!

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

In the slicing application / gcode generator, you can normally specify a number of perimeters, increasing this may resolve that, as well as increasing the number of solid top layers.

Sorry to be so vague, but its very dependent on what software is being used to control the printer.

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