Free “crazy-ass” 3D sculpting tool

UofT created MeshMixer software sculpts, blends and paints 3D models using simple interface.

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by Design Engineering Staff

It may not be CAD per se, but there may be times when a freeform modeller, like MeshMixer can come in handy for 3D printing projects, especially when it doesn’t cost anything. Developed by University of Toronto researcher, Ryan Schmidt, MeshMixer is akin to 3D sculpting and painting applications such as Pixologic’s ZBrush and Autodesk’s MudBox. In fact, the CAD giant quietly acquired the code last year.

Schmidt’s web site – which includes tutorials, support, user forum and a gallery – describes MeshMixer as “a free tool for making crazy-ass 3D stuff without too much hassle,” which pretty much sums the application up. Workflow typically involves working with one or more existing meshes and “drag and drop”ing them together to create something new.

Instead of selecting faces or vertices, the application uses brushes to select and manipulate areas of a mesh. Typical operation include extrude, fill, mirror, bridge and reduce the number of triangles in a model or selection. In addition, the application uses brushes to apply vertex coloring to selections.

Available for Windows and Mac OSX, Meshmixer can import and export of OBJ polymeshes — with per-vertex normals and arbitrary UVs — as well as PLY meshes, with vertex colors. Meshmixer can also export COLLADA/DAE and STL files which can be useful for 3D printing.