- The way it works according to this 3D printing expert, they drew the shapes on a paper
- Then they digitally refined them
- Made it into a 3D model
- And then used a 3D printer to print it
- You can find a lot of free designs on Yeggi
As you may well know, if you’ve been crafting with polymer clay for any amount of time, there are not enough shapes in the world to make every shape that you need.
And yet, there are even fewer 3D printed cutters out there compared to what is available for metal clay.
(At least that I’m aware of.) Amazingly, you can take a 3D printed cutter, bigger or smaller, to fit your hand better, and have it last forever.
It’s also pretty awesome to take the few 3D printed polymer clay cutters out there, make them in different colors, and have them match your art perfectly. But, if you’re new to 3D printing, not so fantastic.
This is one of our favorite 3D printer projects– check out the step by step guide below:
How to Design & 3D Print Polymer Clay Cutters (step by step guide)
First things first, you need to decide what cutter you want. For this tutorial, I’m going with the heart cutter from the MoYou London French Affair Collection (in addition to a few other cutters) and designing and 3D printing them in glow-in-the-dark orange PLA.
Next, you need to. Not just the color, but what kind of plastic you want it printed in. There are pros and cons to every kind of 3D printable material. PLA is biodegradable (and even compostable if you keep it around long enough for that to happen) and tolerates a wide range of temperatures and finishing techniques.
ABS is non-biodegradable and is even more flexible than PLA but is less resistant to the heat and chemicals used in some finishing techniques. PETG is pretty easy to use as PLA but has a higher melting temperature, working better with metal clays. It also tolerates more chemicals than PLA.
Or you can get crazy with all kinds of other plastics like carbon-filled PLA, bronze-filled ABS, and glow-in-the-dark PETG. Seriously though, I would recommend sticking with PLA or ABS until you get the hang of everything else that goes into successful 3D printed projects.
Next, you need to decide how big you want your cutter to be. I designed mine with the heart facing straight up and down (neither angled nor rotated) so that they would print more easily without having to rotate them in my slicer every time they hit the build plate.
So I’m using the thickness of each heart wall to help me decide how tall I should make them.
I want enough room for my fingers to fit inside, so two walls are plenty. The bigger the cutter, the more sturdy it will be (all other things being equal), so I’m making these about 1/2 inch tall by 0.3 inches thick.
I’ll explain the reason for this thickness in a moment, so if you think it’s not enough, trust me for now.
If you’re using SketchUp or Tinkercad, then “right-click” on the object to be exported and select “Edit in Customizer.” If you’re using other programs, enter your measurements into them.
So if I want to make a bunch of these cutters to match my art, they all have to fit on the same build plate.
Now it’s time to . You may be able to design them in the modeling software you are using, but I’m using SketchUp for this project.
What’s excellent about uploading STL files directly into SketchUp is that if I start messing up my model or accidentally make a mess of things, I can load that STL back into another piece of software to fix it.
Hopefully, you have a program that can read STL files, but if not, there are lots of free ones that you can download that will work just fine. I use SketchUp Make for my 3D models, but there are many options out there, so choose one and get started.
For this method, you will need to of your print nozzle. For my printer, that was 0.6 inches. You can measure it on your own or put a bit of masking tape and a ruler next to each other and count off every 0.1 inches: each line is 0.1 inches high.
To get started, create a plane at the height of your print bed by clicking on the toolbar on the right-hand side of your screen and selecting “Create Plane.”
Then click once more where you want it to be, wherever the build plate will be concerning where you’re sitting when you’re printing (if you’re right-handed, it’s generally recommended that you put the origin of your model at the back left corner of your print bed).
If you know the distance from your build plate to the top of your nozzle, as I mentioned before, then all you have to do is divide that number by two and enter it into SketchUp.
So for my printer, I divide 0.6 by 2, which gives me 0.3 (because SketchUp wants inches to be divided by two). I enter that value into the “height” field on my toolbar and hit “enter.”
Now all of your planes are at the same height as your print bed. The next step will require a bit of geometry, but don’t worry: it’s not as bad as you think.
In SketchUp, draw a rectangle from the origin to your desired cutter size using the line tool on your toolbar. It might help to stretch out the window so that you can
you want it to be, then stretch it by grabbing one of the small squares on each corner and dragging them away from each other. This will change how long your cutter is.
Change this number until your cutters are as wide as you’d like them to be (remember, how wide the cutter will be your clay’s width when you go to cut it).
Now you need to the height of your cutter to be. This one’s easy: select the rectangle and stretch it up or down by grabbing one of the lines and dragging it up or down, whichever way you want to make your cutter.
You’re almost done. All you need to do is delete the origin and one of your front planes (if they intersect, which I’m guessing they will). . Now put an edge on each end of your two front planes and delete those edges.
Congratulations. Your cutter is finished.
Cutters are an excellent tool for creating jewelry made from polymer clay. There are many options when working with clay. Let your imagination run wild.
I love crafting jewelry using clay cutters. I am always on the lookout for new ideas and techniques to try out.
Clay cutters are a great way to make beautiful jewelry. You can use these tools to cut shapes out of clay and then bake them in the oven.
I love crafting jewelry using clay cutters. It is a great way to express my creativity.
I can make anything from simple necklaces to complex bracelets and earrings, all with ease!
That’s it. You’ve just designed a cutter to cut a shape into polymer clay. This is a bit of an advanced method, but if you’re comfortable with geometry, numbers and have some modeling experience, this method may be for you.