How to Create a Two-Color 3D-Printable Die Model

My name is Samuel Cohen and this is how I single-handedly designed, developed, and launched a website where you can customize a die and have it 3D printed in 30 days. Below is a technical update post. If you wish to read more about the project, the landing page is here.

Having previously created a visual 3D model here and here and a color customizer here I was ready to create a physical model to 3D print. Using Fusion 360 I could create a foldable die model that could be printed within an hour and shipped to customers.

Below is a video highlighting my rationale for using Fusion 360 and the basic methods I used to create the model. If you want to know the specifics, continue reading.

Fusion 360 Overview

Creating a 3D-Printable Model

Setup

There are multiple ways you can print in multiple colors, many of which require a specialized printer. I chose to create a solution that can function properly using any printer. The die base and the dots are two separate models. The dots are printed first and then the base is printed over it. This creates a two-color print when the dots are encased by the base.

In order to accomplish this, I needed to create a model that could be printed on its sides and folded. I used a picture like this for inspiration.

Foldable Cube

Another point of consideration is the size of the die. A standard die is 16mm on each side, so that is what I created.

Model Base

The first thing I did was recreate the foldable cube in 3D. This is fairly straightforward, as it starts with creating a square that is 16x16mm.

16x16mm Square

Once I have a square, I have to model the connections between the squares. Since I am 3D-printing this mode, I want to ensure the faces are connected. To do this I created a rectangle at each edge in the size of one layer or .2mm. After this is done for al our sides the drawing looks like this.

Connections Added

Now I can add four additional die faces with the same 16mm dimensions.

Dice with Five Faces

Finally, I can add the additional square required to form a cube at the bottom. I have to make sure to include the .2mm gap for the connection.

Final 2D Image

Now that the 2D drawing is complete, I can make it 3D. I click complete sketch and then the extrude command. Once extrude is selected, I click on each of the six squares.

First Extrusion

On this screen, I change the distance to 2mm and then click OK.

Base Extrusion Complete

Now the only thing left to do is extrude the connector pieces. Since I already extruded a portion of the sketch I cannot see it. To make the sketch visible I wen to the sketches folder in the right-hand menu and clicked the eye next to sketch one.

Sketch Visible

Now that I can see the sketch I am going to repeat the extrude command and select each connector portion. Except, this time I am going to extrude to .2mm instead.

Extruding Connectors

Once that step is complete the first extrusions are finished.

Modeling Dots

All of the dots are going to be one sketch so that they can be printed together. I am going to make sure the dots are in the correct position for the final die in this step. The first thing I am going to go is start a sketch on one of the die faces.

Starting Sketch on Die Face

Now that I am in the sketch editors, I am going to start drawing lines. I have to make sure that I know where the dots are supposed to be placed. I start by drawing a line to find the center of the middle square.

Line Drawn to Center of Square

Now that I know where the center is, I can place a circle using the circle tool. A good size for the dots is 3mm.

First Dot Drawn

After this dot is placed I can delete the lines and move on to the two-face. The two dots are evenly placed on a line that goes diagonally through the center. I am going to start by drawing a diagonal line through the two face.

Diagonal Line Drawn Through Two Face

From there I can find the center and make two dots equidistant from it.

Finished Second Face

From this point, I can create the rest of the dice faces using the same techniques. The final product looks like this.

Final Dot Sketch

I then moved on to extruding the dots. I selected all of the dots and then extruded them by 4.25mm making sure to change the operation to cut so that the dots are cut from the base.

Extruding Dots

Once this operation is complete, I can see that the dots are cut from the base.

Dots Cut from Base

Now you have the dots in the correct position. I will come back to this later to export the dot model.

Modeling Connectors

This die model is based around the fact that it prints flat and then folds together. I designed some quick connects that I could use to make sure the die stays together. I am going to start by creating a 3.55m square in the center of each face. This sketch is started on the side opposite the dots.

Squares Sketch

Once that is complete I can use the offset command to offset each of these squares by .5mm.

Square Offset

Once that is completed to each square, I finished the sketch.

Finished Sketch

Now I am going to use the extrude command to extrude each of these squares by 2mm.

Extruded Squares

Once that is complete the model looks like this.

Completed Basic Model

Now that I have the basic model, I am going to prepare everything for 3D printing.

Export and Print Preparation

For these models to work properly in a 3D-printing software I have to export the base and dots as STL files. I will start with the base by selecting file-export.

Export Menu

Since I need an STL file, I selected STL from the file type and selected export. This will take some time to export as the file needs to be converted.

Exporting Model

Then I have to export the dots. To export the dots I disabled all other sketches and extrusions except the dots. This is done by going into the right-hand menu and clicking on the eye of each body and sketch until only the dots are showing.

Only Dots Visible

Once the dots were isolated, I extruded the dots so that they are their own 3D model. I did this by clicking the extrude command and selecting all of the dots and change the extrude distance to .4mm

Dot Extrusion

Once this is complete I go through the same exporting process that I did with the base.

The actual piece that connects the die is simply a set of three rectangles. It can be tailored to the size of the dice and printed separately. Here is a picture of mine. I followed the same process to export this model.

Connector Piece

Conclusion

Now that there are two separate models and a connector piece I can move on to 3D printing in this tutorial.

Check Out the Website at www.dicedesigner.com.

Back to Landing Page

I am a guy from Pittsburgh that is passionate about 3D printing and history. I went from coding projects and consulting in school right into the startup world.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store