Once again I’m finding MeshLab to be a must-have tool for manipulating STL files (read my previous post about using it to reduce file sizes by clicking here).
I’ve just downloaded the files for a Raspberry Pi B+ enclosure from Thingiverse (click here to get the free files) which I’ve started printing on my ‘Up! Plus 2‘ 3D Printer. However I wanted the Nintendo logo on the lid part rather than a blank surface. Enter MeshLab.
I started with extruding the text in Solidworks (image 1), and exporting this as an STL. Any CAD package should do this for you. Both files can then be opened within MeshLab ready to combine (something that can’t be done in Solidworks). The problem with MeshLab is that there is no simple way to align multiple files, unlike Solidworks parts where you would simply ‘mate’ surfaces together. Instead you must manually rotate and move the parts into the orientations desired. Not a big problem for simple parts like this where position and alignment don’t need to be perfect, it’s just for looks (image 2). Once in position, you can right-click in the layers panel, and use the ‘Flatten Visible Layers‘ tool to combine the STL’s into a single solid. Export this new file as a STL and you’re ready to print!
Stay tuned for some photos and details as I print this part out, along with the full enclosure.
– Posted by James Novak
7 thoughts on “Merging STL Files”
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Like you said, easier for bigger parts. Is there a better way to assemble intricate/small parts other than manual translation and rotation?
Unfortunately once they’re STL files, no. I actually prefer using Meshmixer (also free to download) since writing this post; it’s still a manual process, but a lit bit more user friendly.
Hi James, I just came across your post. That’s really awesome what you’re doing with Meshlab. Might also be helpful for me.
Actually I’m using STL objects for CFD simulations with OpenFOAM and need to have a merged, water-tight STL object.
By using some other tools you can extend the functionality to translate, rotate, scale and refine the STL objects. For these purposes I’m using:
FreeCAD, ParaView, OpenFOAM commands or simple Linux terminal commands like cat.
Thanks for the feedback Damian 👍 I actually prefer using Meshmixer these days for cleaning up STL files and making edits – the tools are much more intuitive compared to Meshlab. And it’s also free. You can use the analysis tool to check files are watertight, and correct any issues. Might be worth trying if you haven’t already, I’d be interested to know how it goes for you.