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Complex solid subtraction fail

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Hi Vectorworkians. 

I am after some help with modelling some letters for 3d printing. My end goal is to print the letter "a" and have it edge lit with an led strip (SEE PIC).

I have tried lots of processes and they either come up with the "geometry too complex to compute" or it just plain doesn't work. My last alternative it to model each letter from scratch but there must be an easier way. 

Here is what i have tried so far. 


Subtract profile from solid process. 

I have created and extruded object from converting the text "a" to polylines the extrude. 

Then take the outside line (remove face and convert to lines and compose) and i split this to give a start and end to the line. 

Then i draw my profile and extrude along path. 


All  of this works fine. 


Now no matter what i do it throws me this to complex to compute. I have converted to all alternatives with no luck. I have tried to subtract other objects from the "a" and it works so i know it comes down to my extruded path. 


I also tried to create 2 x "a"'s and scale one down and subtract one from the other to build this in sections but as it scales from the middle any outward faces scale fine but the inward facing scale towards the centre. 


Any input at this stage would be great. 


Thanks in advance. DLA.  


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I just did a quick try and it worked OK for me.


I typed in the font I wanted and scaled to size. I think Used the Convert Text to Polylines command from the Text menu. I ungrouped to get the individual letters and used the Extrude Along Path command using a profile similar to yours.


I lost the center cutout of the A, but S seems pretty good.



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I would make it by doing most of the work in 2d using the Offset Tool and adding/subtracting surfaces first. Then I would make 3 extrudes, move them into position and Add Solids. Here's an example file.


The Offset Tool is a better solution than scaling geometry to approximate an offset. In some cases you may need to rebuild the polyline created by Convert to Polylines so its cleaner, but it seemed to work fine in my test.






Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 8.19.46 AM.png

Edited by Kevin McAllister
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Thank you people, 

It seems that the issue is in my process. Build rater that subtract. 

I will give it a go. 


Thanks so much for your help and sharing your knowledge. 

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I often use this process and sometimes it happens that transforming the text into a polyline creates superfluous bezier points. Before extruding, I suggest you to zoom in on the letter and delete any useless points (curves) that prevent extrusion.

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