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How 3D Printing Won an Oscar

  • March 14, 2019

Austrian designer Julia Koerner had a rather delicious surprise last month: Head Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter, with whom Julia collaborated closely, won the Academy Award for her work on Black Panther. The cherry on top: Ruth wore a custom 3D printed piece created by Julia for the Oscar festivities.

Julia Koerner is a long-term partner of our parent company’s, but when the designer reached out to Materialise again to work together on a 3D-printed design for a movie costume, no one had a clue that the ride would lead all the way to the red carpet. From the 3D-printed mantle and crown worn by the character of Queen Ramonda in Marvel’s Black Panther to an Oscar victory for the film’s lead costume designer Ruth E. Carter, the latest collaboration between Julia Koerner and Materialise has been a star-studded adventure!

Black Panther

Queen Ramonda wearing 3D printed designs – Courtesy of Marvel’s Black Panther / Costume Design by Ruth Carter

To Julia, the nomination is an acknowledgment of the innovation in design that Black Panther demonstrated. With this victory, Julia continues, it’s become even clearer how important it was to incorporate novel technologies like 3D printing to enable the complex aesthetic and elevated designs that the story called for.

“I felt very excited about the Oscar nomination. Black Panther was my first time working on a movie, and it is very rewarding to be a part of this success.”
– Julia Koerner

3D printing goes couture with Ruth E. Carter

The collaboration between Julia Koerner and the costume designer didn’t stop at the 3D-printed pieces featured in Black Panther. Academy Award winner Ruth E. Carter wanted to wear something special to the 21st Costume Designers Guild Awards and the Vanity Fair Oscars Party, something that would pay homage to Black Panther. To do so, she counted on Julia Koerner’s design genius. And Julia, in turn, knew she could count on Materialise to bring her inspiration to life.

Drawing on her years of experience in designing for 3D printing, Julia created a 3D-printed statement piece for Ruth that definitely exuded that wow-factor, whilst also showcasing the possibilities of 3D printing in couture and fashion.

The neck accessory was inspired by African designs and patterns, together with gala dresses by Balenciaga from the 1950s and the oeuvre of Malian photographer Seydou Keïta. The result was a filigree design, with high-detailed structures that resembles three-dimensional lace with enough stiffness to stand on its own.

Combining digital technologies with traditional techniques

Once Julia’s design was ready, it was printed by Materialise in PA 12 using SLS technology and sent back to the designer within the week. Julia then hand-embellished the ornament with Swarovski crystals to give it a special sparkle.

The 3D-printed statement piece designed by Julia Koerner

“The crystals intensify the detail of the piece even more. This was the first time that this process of trickling crystals was performed on a 3D-printed piece: it’s a great combination of digital and traditional craftsmanship,” Julia tells us.

The accessory is unique for one more reason. The design itself was custom made for Ruth E. Carter, starting with a 3D scan of her head and shoulders. While her designs are usually based on measurements, explains Julia, this was one of her first times using a 3D scan to design a custom accessory.

To create a cohesive visual statement, the dress worn by Ruth on the red carpet was designed by the New York-based designer b michael America, with the 3D-printed neck accessory in mind.

All in all, we’re convinced the 91st Academy Awards will prove to be an unexpected landmark for 3D printing in fashion — we’re proud that our parent company was part of it!

Itching to start making your own Oscar-worthy pieces? Upload the 3D file of your model to our online 3D printing platform and we hope to see your designs on the silver screen ASAP!

Two Brand Spankin’ New Colors For 3D Printing In Alumide To Inspire You

  • March 11, 2019

Go to our web shop to view what other individuals have made out of Alumide.


And plus, as this really can be printed with the technique named laser-sintering, you have absolute design freedom. You only need to create your walls at least 1 millimeter thick, and also you do not need to bear in mind our team will bring support arrangements throughout production. In other printing technologies, you want to have supports to keep your thing taking a stand on the mattress, however using laser-sintering a cushion of powder can help keep it up because it comes to everyday life.

Laser-sintering = Entire Design Freedom

Watch all of the colors in real life by ordering our sample kit. Whenever you do that you receive yourself a $25 voucher to utilize on i.materialise.

What would you publish in Bordeaux? Think about Petrol Blue? Well you can now find prints in both of these colors for 3D printing in Alumide because of yours truly.
Or find five of the very stunning prints in Alumide within our prior blog post.

By the stylish Ribble Ring into a practical hook or some cool cougar pendant, you may just discover something that sparks your interest inspires you to create your very own unique piece.

Have a look at our post to know more regarding designing in Alumide. Or should you feel confident on your design, make crackin’ and upload it to get it in our upcoming printing batch.

Watch the colors IRL

See additional bits have grown from this particular process by adding a bit of light on some pristine powder

We love the sparkly, metallic appearance that we get when printing with all this stuff. Alumide can be just a powder comprising nylon called Polyamide (PA 1-2 ) mixed with a little proportion of charcoal powder. The material has just enough metallic particles to provide a surface with a subtle sparkle. With all this taken under account, this can be an extremely strong vinyl, and also, like Polyamide, it’s marginally porous. The one thing to remember is the metal also makes it more inflexible and more brittle compared to ordinary ol’ PA 1 2.

Just like Polyamide, it’s a perfect technique and material for beginners who need a well-priced version, extensive freedom of design, and that do not want to get bothered too much with all the limitations of their printing process.

ZBrush 3D Printing Tutorial: Preparing 3D Sculptures for 3D Printing

  • March 2, 2019

ZBrush is hands down the most popular and powerful digital sculpting software out there. That’s why this program is mainly used for designing figurines, sculptures, game characters, or any other design that needs an organic shape. Some users have trouble turning these 3D models into 3D prints – and that’s where we come in! In this hands-on tutorial, we will show you step-by-step how you can prepare your ZBrush models for 3D printing.

Tutorial Overview

3D printing a ZBrush model typically requires three steps:

  • 1st step: It all starts with you sculpting your piece of art with ZBrush and then adjusting it for 3D printing. This includes checking wall thickness, merging objects together, and hollowing the model (if needed).
  • 2nd step: After the modeling part is done, you can optimize your design with the freely available Decimation Master plugin. This will allow you to reduce your poly count while keeping a high level of detail.
  • 3rd step: The last thing left for you to do is to export your design as a 3D printable file. With 3D Print Exporter you will be able to export your 3D model as an STL, WRL, or OBJ file.

So let’s look into this in some more detail now.

This “Ring Of The Monkey Pirate King” by Ben Dansie was 3D modeled in ZBrush and Blender…


… and then turned into a stunning Sterling Silver 3D print.

1st Step: Preparing Your Design for 3D Printing

Before being able to print your model correctly, you will need to prepare your design and adjust some things here and there.

  • Material Guidelines: If you know which material you want your 3D model to be printed in, be sure to learn more about the specific design rules for the material of your choice. You can find these restrictions for i.materialise’s materials right here.
  • Watertight Model: Your 3D mesh needs to be watertight. Ask yourself the question: if I were to put water inside my model, would it flow out? If that’s the case, then you need to find those holes and close them. Sometimes this process is also called ‘creating a manifold model’. You can find more about this here.
  • Wall Thickness: It’s important that your model sticks to the minimum wall thickness required for your material (learn more about minimum wall thickness here). You can check if your object conforms to the minimum wall thickness by using ZBrush’s transpose or move tool. You can learn how to use this tool in this explanation by 3DHubs.
  • Merging & Hollowing: If your ZBrush model consists of several elements (SubTools), you could already combine them into one mesh by using the merging tool. Besides creating a single continuous mesh, Dynamesh can also help you to hollow out your design. Hollowing out your model might help you to cut down 3D printing costs. We’ve got a good summary about this right here.

Checking the four points mentioned above are vital for a great print. However, we also encourage you to do an overall check. Take a look at your handy file preparation checklist to ensure you will get the exact result that you wanted.

2nd Step: Optimize Your Design with the Decimation Master Plugin

Your ZBrush 3D model typically has an incredible level of detail – and is therefore also quite heavy. While this is perfectly fine when modeling within ZBrush, it can make things tricky when you want to export your file to different software or if you want to 3D print it. With i.materialise for example, your file size should not exceed 100 MB.

That’s where the freely available Decimation Master plugin comes into play. In a nutshell, this plugin allows you to greatly reduce the poly count of a model while preserving the high-resolution detail.

Don’t worry about losing detail information for your 3D print. Printers typically do not need any detail information that is smaller than 0.01 millimeters since they cannot print at this level of detail anyway. Avoid increasing the file resolution to more than 0.01 millimeters, however, in order to make sure that the triangles which make up your design won’t be visible. We have a dedicated tutorial about file resolution here, in case you want to learn more about this.

In the image below you can see an original ZBrush file with a poly count of 11,000,000 (left), and an optimized 3D model with a polygon count of 750,000. While this dramatically reduces the file size, the level of detail practically stays untouched.


11,000,000 vs. 750,000 polygons. Image by Pixologic.

3rd Step: Export Your Design as a 3D Printable File

The final step before 3D printing your ZBrush model is carried out by the 3D Print Exporter plugin, which is already included in the ZBrush 4R7 installer.

This plugin is very intuitive and only takes a few minutes to use.

  • Open the plugin: With your model selected, open ZPlugin and select “3D Print Exporter” from the menu.
  • Scale to preferred size: Click on “Update Size Ratios” to capture the ZTool’s bounding box size.
    • Choose your units: millimeters or inches.
    • Change one of the three sliders to define the size of your 3D print.
  • Choose SubTools: Choose if you would like to export all SubTools, only the visible SubTools, or just the currently selected SubTool.
  • Select file format: Finally, select the file format you want to export, i.e. STL, OBJ or WRL. If you choose WRL or OBJ, you can of course also export texture files.

Find out more about this plugin and how to use it on the 3D Print Exporter documentation.


This zombie 3D print by Milos Tutus was created in ZBrush.

Now that you’ve got your printable 3D file, it’s all set to be sent to our printers. If you want a high-quality 3D print of your digital sculpts you can simply upload it here and you’ll see the price immediately. Make sure to visit our overview of all the materials that we offer as well – ZBrush users that use textures often choose the Multicolor+ material.

Featured image: 3D model by Andy Jones

Roboze partners with Neofab, expands high-temperature 3D printing in France

  • March 2, 2019

Roboze, an Italian industrial 3D printer manufacturer, has expanded its presence in Europe through a partnership with Neofab, a 3D printing consultancy business based in Le Mans, France. This strategic collaboration aims to address the growing demand for additive manufacturing production in France, using Roboze’s high-temperature 3D printing technology. Guillaume Coudreuse, Web Marketing Project Manager […]

A Guide To Making Signs

  • March 2, 2019

16 Custom Laser Cut Sign Ideas To Sell For A Profit Or Brand Your Business

Whether welcoming invitations, stark warnings of impending danger, or shining beacons of comfort and relaxation, signs guide our world. From simple restroom signs to directional street signs to 10-foot tall letters advertising corporations atop skyscrapers, signs are necessary communication tools that help us navigate the facets of everyday life, even if sometimes it may feel like they’re blockin’

The post A Guide To Making Signs appeared first on Ponoko.

Black Friday to Cyber Monday: Free Shipping on Every Order

  • March 2, 2019

For die-hard Black Friday shoppers, staking out a place in line and camping out on the cold sidewalk in front of their favorite store is the best part of the experience. For everyone else, we have a Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend deal right here on i.materialise.com: from 23-26 November, we offer free shipping on each and every order. 


(valid from 23-26 November)

These Inventors Just 3D-Printed a House for Less Than $100

  • March 2, 2019

Italian company World’s Advanced Saving Project has found a way to 3D print low cost and self-sustainable housing for communities in developing countries.

The cost of manufacturing these houses is less than $100 per unit, making it an incredibly attractive prospect for charities throughout the world.

BigDelta lays down layers for the outer wall of the mud house.

Good Net reports:

The team behind the project recently joined forces with local craftsmen to print a prototype home in the Italian province of Ravenna and completed its first house at a cost of only around $60. The massive printer uses a mixture of locally-sourced earth and straw which is prepared in an industrial mixing machine. Like icing on a cake, the mixture is then squeezed out of BigDelta’s printing nozzle in predefined patterns.


“Building BigDelta is much more than a dream come true if we consider that, by 2030, international estimates foresee a rapid growth of adequate housing requirements for over 4 billion people living with yearly income below $3,000,” the company writes.


“The United Nations calculated that over the next 15 years there will be an average daily requirement of 100,000 new housing units to meet this demand.” BigDelta could become a viable option to deliver ultra low-cost and effective housing to needy communities and bring the group one step closer to its dream of a world with affordable housing for everyone.

Photo credit: WASP.

Nexxt Spine to use MTS testing systems for 3D printed spinal implants

  • March 2, 2019

Nexxt Spine, an Indiana-based spinal implants manufacturer, has announced that it will develop 3D printed bone healing spinal implants with the help of MTS Systems Corporation, a global manufacturer and supplier of simulations and testing systems. Alaedeen Abu-Mulaweh, Nexxt Spine Director of Engineering, said, “Given the highly nuanced nature of these intricate micro geometries, the […]