Are you looking for a new project to keep you busy? Why not try designing a simple plastic bottle in 3D modeling software? It’s a great way to improve your skills and can even lead to some cool creations. The 3D design software we are going to use is SelfCAD. We will go over the different steps needed to create the model, as well as some tips to prepare it for 3D printing.
How to get started with the modeling process
Sign up for SelfCAD or log in if you already have an account. You can use the online utility or download SelfCAD for Windows or macOS. Online and offline programs are synchronized together. This is useful because you can work anywhere and anytime.
Once you have created an account, launch the software and create a new project. You can then follow the eight simple steps below to create your simple plastic bottle.
Step 1: Activate the sphere from the 3D Shapes section
We are going to take a primitive 3D model and modify it to create the plastic bottle. The primitive shape we are going to use is the sphere. From 3D shape category from the toolbar, choose Sphere. You can also use the keyboard shortcut (P + S). Once you’ve done that, keep the settings as they are and click the tick icon to finalize.
Next, change the render setting from Solid at Solid + Wired (or use the keyboard shortcut: V+C). These settings are found just below the Selection tools title, as shown below.
Activate it Face selection option found in the upper right corner, or use the shortcut Ctrl/Cmd+1. Click on the upper part of your sphere to select it; you can use the selection rectangle (R+M, or right mouse button in the offline editor). Once selected, click Wipe off (trash can icon). You will be prompted to verify that you are sure you want to delete the selection; select Yes.
Enable Edge selection (Ctrl/Cmd+2) and click the cog icon to Advanced settings. Adjust Loop selection to true, then select the top circular edge as shown below (you may need to click a few edges here).
Once you have done this, close the settings panel by clicking on the X icon.
Activate it Extrusion tool of the Edit toolbar menu (or use the shortcut M+E), as shown below.
Once extrusion is enabled, set the Rising to 70 and click the tick icon to finalize.
With the extrusion still selected, select Add Thickness from Edit menu or use the shortcut M+A. Put it on Thickness to 3, then finalize it, and your model should look like the one shown in the image below.
Enable Face selection again click on the gear icon and set Loop selection option to true. Now select two polygons in the top section and the whole top ring will be selected. Once this is the case, click on the Copy icon (or press CTRL+C) to copy the selected section.
From Tools category in the toolbar, select Fill Polygons (or use the shortcut T+F), then finalize the design.
Step 6: Use Geom Clean and add an extrusion
From Utilities toolbar menu, choose Geom clean (or use the shortcut U+C). Once selected, finalize. Then select Selection of polygons top right (CTRL/Command + 4). You can now click on the top of the bottle to select it. Go to Edit > Extrusion (or use the shortcut M+E). Then adjust the Rising at 30 and finalize.
Go to Edit > Extrusion again, adjust Vertex Normals true, and Rising to 5, then finalize.
Step 7: Add Thickness Again
Click on the grid to deselect the upper region. Select Edit > Add Thickness Again. Once the settings panel appears, set the Thickness to 0.1, then finalize it. Click on the Move tool from the toolbar and set Yes at 155.93, then click the X icon to close the panel.
Step 8: Modify meshes
In the Objects panel (bottom right), click on the bottle to select it (ours is called mesh_3). Deselect the bottle lid (named mesh_3(1) in our case). From Deform toolbar menu, select the Flatten tool (or use the shortcut D+L).
Once the settings panel appears, set Yes at 168.03, then close the panel, and you should have the design shown below (in Solid display mode).
In our example, the bottle lid is the one indicated by mesh_3(1) in the Objects panel, but yours may be named differently.
You can change the color and material according to your preference. For example, in the image below, the lid color has been changed to red. To add the textures, you can open the Materials panel (by clicking its icon in the middle right panel), then choose Custom to use your own textures. Or you can use those already available in the software.
Once added, finalize the design and you will have added textures to your 3D model as shown in the design below.
Once you have completed the 3D modeling step, you can generate a realistic rendering of your design by selecting the Rendering toolbar tool. This will prompt you to download the Renderer app which you can use to create a realistic image of your design. Once you download and install it, you will be able to see your design rendered as shown in the image below.
You can also adjust brightness, gamma correction, vignetting, and even background for your final render. Once you are comfortable with all the settings, you can then save your image.
Preparing your design for 3D printing
If you want to 3D print your design (see how to 3D print for beginners), you will first need to slice the model using a 3D slicer. You can find SelfCAD’s FDM slicer on the toolbar, labeled 3D printing. Once you click on it, it will redirect you to a page where you can choose your specific 3D printer before starting the slicing process.
You will then see settings on the toolbar as well as an option to choose if the two parts (bottle and lid) are one part or if they are separate parts that should be printed simultaneously.
Choose the second option, then specify your settings, such as quality, infill, and 3D printing material (see our guide on how to choose the right filament for your 3D printer) to use, then click Slice. Once you’ve finished slicing your model, you can preview it to see how your 3D printer will print the model.
You can also see how long it will take to print, as well as the size of material that will be needed during the process. If all is well, click Save G-code; you can then send it to your 3D printer.
Additionally, you can save your 3D model as an STL file (see our guide on what an STL file is and what it is used for) during the 3D design process and slice it with the slicer compatible with your 3D printer, then 3D prints it.
Customize the design according to your needs
You can create a simple plastic bottle model by following the simple steps above. You can even go ahead and customize it according to your needs by adjusting the colors, textures and even the material of your design by selecting the Colors and Materials options found in the middle right of the workspace.