July 20, 2015 | By Alec

Theoretically, 3D prints can be used to make just about anything. But the reality is that most users only 3D print basic geometric shapes. So really how do we know what our 3D printers are capable of? And are they 100% accurate all the time? That’s exactly why the #3DBenchy was such a success a few months ago, as this little boat was specifically designed for testing and benchmarking 3D printers. 3D printing enthusiast Paulo Kiefe and team have now taken the #3DBenchy to the next level with a version specifically intended for multi-part, multi-material 3D printing.

As Daniel Norée (of OpenR/C fame) explains to 3ders.org, the initial #3DBenchy was a huge success. ‘Countless 3D printer operators around the world have produced a large fleet of tiny 3D-printed boats in a variety of layer heights, sizes, materials and colours,’ he proudly said. However, that original version was only released as a single STL file, resulting in a fleet of monochromatic boats. ‘We want to change this and give everyone the opportunity to push the boundaries of 3D printing with different colours and materials,’ he adds. Hence, the release of this very detailed version of the #3DBenchy.

In fact, this new ship consists of a whopping seventeen different STL files, each for a specific shape feature in the #3DBenchy and each will definitely test the capacity of your desktop 3D printer. The included shapes are as follows:

  • Bridge roof
  • Bridge walls
  • Cargo box
  • Chimney body
  • Chimney top
  • Deck surface
  • Doorframe port
  • Doorframe starboard
  • Fishing-rod-holder
  • Gunwale
  • Hawsepipe port
  • Hawsepipe starboard
  • Hull
  • Stern name plate
  • Stern window
  • Wheel
  • Window

This new set also specifically caters to multi-color 3D printers that have been outfitted with two printheads. ‘We make it easier to 3D print two different colors (or materials) by providing a pair of STL files containing the combined shells of two sets of boat features. Each feature “floats in the air” and both files fit together perfectly if they are positioned on the same XYZ origin in a 3D-printing slicing software,’ Daniel adds. If you’re one of those lucky few with a 3D printer with more than to print heads (or if you’re looking for any given color combination) you can individually handle all STL files in slicing software. The dual-print groups are as follows:

Hull, Cargo box, Bridge walls, Rod-holder, Chimney

Gunwale, Deck, Plate, Wheel, Frames, Roof, Chimney top

People with multi-head 3D printers typically use them for multi-color printing, and for that reason the upgraded #3DBenchy has been fully adapted to deal with that technique as well. ‘The STL files in this #3DBenchy release are suited for solid-color printing, meaning that the volume in each file can only be filled with a single solid color. The number of different colors is usually defined by the number of printheads,’ Daniel writes. The rest of us, with regular 3D printers, can obviously just paint the finished model by hand.

Interested in a 3D printing challenge (and in finding out if your 3D printer works well)? Then accept the #3DBenchy challenge! The Benchy team has also suggested a few challenges for those of you who want to keep things interesting: ‘For those who have access to a filament-based colour 3D printer with two, three or maybe even four printheads, the most challenging aspects are as follows: Avoiding colour contamination between printheads when molten plastic oozes, printhead alignment and calibration [and finding the] best settings in the slicing software,’ they add.

So what are you waiting for? All STL files for the new and improved #3DBenchy can be downloaded from the usual repositories. All files are released under a Creative Commons license, so have fun with this very unusual but challenging printing project. Also be sure to keep an eye on the #3DBenchy website, as they will soon release a high-resolution texture-based version of the boat as well.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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