Using Blender for Technical design

Blender 3D may seem for non-user quite difficult to approach, and yet there are a lot of ways to use it accuratly with measures and tree function structure.
This tutorial will design a precise screw.
It is a near way of approaching technical design. Yes, it will not be as quite easy as solidwork or others, but the aim is to be more precise with blender.

  1. Step 1: Getting started

    Load Blender 3D 2.90 and delete the cube


    Activate the add-on 3d View : MeasureIt

    Add a plane

    Select your plane, press TAB or use the menu EDIT MODE

    When you enter the edit mode you are in, the mesh of the object, this is where you can change shape of each vertice of the object.

    We are going to rotate this plane so it is face to us (in th ZX plane)

    Type R X 90 (rotate along x axis 90°) and click anywhere in the scene to confirm

    In blender dont mix up the coordinate of the vertices and the coordinate of the object

    We did not rotate the object 90°, we rotated the plane that makes this object 90°, if you check the coordinate of the object it is still x 0 y 0 z 0 and that is good !

    Now type 1 to get a face view of the scene (with no perspective)

    You will notice that the indication of the unit is precious for us

    10 centimeters means the smaller grid size you can see is 10 cm.

    As we want to design a 5 cm screw we will have to resize this plane (the points that define the plane will than move alltogether to smaller coordinates, once again we are not modifying the global scale of the object, this is important)

    Since our plane is 2000x2000 mm we will scale this plane to 0,01

    (dont forget to select all if deselected : A )

    Scale the plane to 0.01 :

    S 0.01 clic on scene to validate the scalling operation (or press enter)

    Zoom in (Mouse wheel), use SHIFT + center wheel button clicked to scroll keeping in front (well, as every new application you will have to get use to navigation)

    If your loose the front view juste type 1 again

    Now we see that each little square is 1 milimeter

    Clic on the VERTEX SELECT button to only select vertex

    Put the magnetic grid on by selecting SNAP TO INCREMENT and ABSOLUTE and MOVE

    Then clic on the magnet and make sure it is lighted

    There are a lot of ways we could have begun this tutorial, this is one of them, now we are going to move, add, vertices so we can approach the shape of the screw

  2. Step 2: Modelling the screw precisely

    Select vertices and then type G to move them as they snap to the grid you can easely start to draw the general size of the srew

    Now we need to ADD some more vertices

    Click on the EDGE SELECT so you can select an edge

    Subdivide this edge

    Select the vertices again and add as much point you want

    Add some cotation with the Addon tool (optional for fun and check)

    (Note that these cotation are not controlling the drawing)

    To make this add on appear press N

    I am discovering this add on and this is not a tutorial how to use it

    Leave the edit mode and go back to Object mode (using TAB)

    Be sure you are in the object mode (1)

    Be sure your object is selected (2)

    Go to the modifier Properties (3)

    Click add modifier (4)

    Goto to the treeview structure and rename the "plane" in Screw Body for example

  3. Step 3: ISSUE, It is hard to stay on a plane

    From time to time you will at first have difficulties drawing on a same sketch plane, if you move vertices around not facing the sketch, vertices move in all x,y,z direction and the drawing is no more aligned.

    That is a big problem but you can easely correct and avoid this.

    If you want to quickly put back every point, lets say on th xz plane (wich is a front view) :

    Just type A for all

    Type S for scale

    Type Y so you can scale every vertices that went wrong along the Y axes and put them back on a XZ plane

    Type 0

    Type Enter

    Example :I went completly wrong with this drawing, 2 points are no longer in the XZ plane

    The sequence :

    A S Y 0 enter will repair everything

    How to move all points to a perticuliar plane ?

    Face the "side view" of the plane

    in our example if I type 3 (side view) I will see everypoints from side view

    Activate the magnetic snap to absolute grid (1)

    Lets say we want to move my Vertices (2) to (3)

    just type A (for all) G (for move) and move your Vertices to the good position then left click mouse button.

    How to avoid having points away from my sketch plane ?

    • Always draw facing the sketch using : 1(face), 3(side) or 7(top) or 9(opposite of the actual view))
    • OR Press G to move points then X, Y or Z to force the movement in one of these direction
    • OR G to move and then Press SHIFT Y for example to forbid movement along Y axis (same for X, Z)

  4. Step 4: Creating multiple function

    This is where you can approach tree function :

    Each modifier is an equivalent of a function in any mechanical CAD modeling

    We will insert equivalent of a REVOLUTION function

    The volume appears, we will have to increase a bit the resolution (2)

    We could have chosen an another axis of rotation than Z, an empty object for example.

    There is an important step to achieve

    Put the viewport and render to 32 so we can get an accurate rotation (1)

    (we will smooth later on with another function, dont put this resolution to very high value, it is useless waist of memory)

    MERGE adjacent vertices (2)

    Put the distance to 0 (because we have a very little object we need the vertices to really merge at short distances) (3)

    Now we will add some details with a Cross-headed top

    I will had another plane

    Scale it and position it on top of the screw

    Rename it

    Go in to edit mode : Add some more points and position the right way

    Extrude along Z axis : E Z

    Exit the EDIT MODE and go back to OBJECT MODE

    Select the screw and add a boolean modifier

    The object is still visible, because only the screw is affected, we must hide this "top screw print" but before we hide this part (so we can see the boolean operation) we must "parent" it to the screw body. Why ? Because if later on we move the srew, the object that defines the top screw print will not follow, and the boolean operation will just stay where it is.

    Select the object that defines the operation (1), select Object properties(2) Relation (3) and parent it to Screw body(4)

    Select the Top screw print and hide it H or use the treeview (alt H to unhide all)

    Lets smooth the 3D :

    Select the screw body object; Go to Object and select SHADE SMOOTH (don't worry everything looks worse)


    Goto NORMALS (2)

    Check Autosmooth (3)

    Optional : You can modify the angle between face normal considered to be smooth (4)

    You can then add another plane to add the detail of the screw : The thread

    Rename it as Thread

  5. Step 5: Going further

    For the body : We made a revolution wich is linked to the Z axis

    It would be wiser to create an empty arrow

    I had to rescale it so we can see something (2) BUT DONT DO THAT NOW

    be sure the empty is in 0/0/0 (1) and everyscale is at 1 (and not 0.1)

    Now we will link the revolution (screw modifier) function to that empty object

    Select the Screw(1), edit the Screw modifier choose the empty as the object

    If we move the empty we see that the screw is linked in it's function (and everything goes wrong )

    A good thing to do is to PARENT this screw to this empty.

    It will then follow every displacement/Rotation or scale from the empty

    (that is why I didn't want you to rescale to 0.1 the empty, the screw would have become 10 times smalers !)

    1) Select the screw, 2) select the object properties 3) Select Relations 4) 5) Choose for the screw the empty as a parent

    Now we can move the empty around, rotate it, and the screw will follow

    We can then PARENT the thread to the screw. so every things follows

    1) Select the thread and parent it to the Screw body 2) 3) 4)

    Notice 5) that we see how things are Parented together.

    We must also define the spining of the thread linked to the empty

    Now we can rotate the empty and move it, and every thing will follow !

    What is great about that ?

    Well no functions are baked, you can still change whatever dimension you want :

    All these function let you create you model as you would in a parametric 3D app

    If you want to bake your design, you can always apply the modifiers, be carreful in wich order you apply things.

    Dont forget we juste hided the function of the Top screw print, so probably we will sooner or later want to just apply this function and then supress this object.

    You can download this tuto example object here

    Thank you for your lecture.