Posted by John Sullivan, Last modified by John Sullivan on 01 February 2019 12:37 PM
Meshmixer is a free 3d modeling and mesh editing software maintained by Autodesk. It offers an efficient meshing and remeshing tool set, making it a common last step in 3d design prior to 3d printing or publishing.
Understanding a Mesh:
A 3d mesh is a form created from vertices or nodes (points in a 3d grid), lines, and faces. Note - not all 3d designs qualify as a “mesh”.
Mesh: will it mix?
A true 3d mesh is ideally polyhedral: a 3d solid. A 3d cube is a mesh, as all sides are covered by polygons, planes suspended between lines and points. If one deletes a face of this cube, it may look solid from five sides, yet it is no longer a solid, or a mesh. Keep in mind each plane (face) of the cube has no thickness, and with nothing to define as an “inside” and an “outside”, the shape will not be 3d printable or have “integrity”. This sort of issue may arise in large projects and may not be evident (Meshmixer has a “make solid” tool for this!) Meshmixer is best used with models that are designed to be solid, with distinct inside and outside faces.
Meshmixer Utilities: Edit
Upon opening Meshmixer with a STL file, the first round of actions will be done in the edit menu.
The Make Solid Tool
The “make solid” tool not only provides a remedy to “incomplete” meshes (a model may look solid, but any error - no matter the scale - will prevent an object from being polyhedral, with an inside and outside). This tool is a catch-all solution to be certain an object will 3d print. Upon opening the tool, your model will be rendered solid using a fast, low resolution algorithm. Edges will not be sharp: this tool is essentially draping a mesh “fabric” around your model, sealing it but also approximating every facet. Click here for official documentation on this tool and process.
After clicking “Accept”, your work space will have now two objects: the original and the solid. To view all objects in your work space, enable the “Objects Browser” under “view” or hit Shift+Command+O (on a Mac). There is no need to delete other objects until it is time to export, and toggling different objects in the browser can be a form of version control.
Tips and Boolean Operations:
The "make solid" tool may strand (become unattached) small parts of the form that where previously attached. A common example of of this is re-meshed fingers "floating" in front of a hand. Using the Select tool, double click the body you wish to keep, which will auto select one complete contiguous form. Hit “i” on your keyboard to invert the selection, to select all floating excess pieces. Use “x” on your keyboard to remove the excess.
In Meshmixer, these Boolean operations are:
To export a STL ready for printing, ensure:
The resulting .stl file is ready! Please use OneDrive or your preferred cloud storage provider to submit your file, as remeshing may drastically increase file size.
For pricing information, follow this link: