I want to print a object that looks like a flat board with a set of matchbox-like lumps on top of it.
I have written a script that outputs an STL file. To keep the script simple, it creates an object that includes non-manifold edges. To be precise, the board and the boxes are a single model, but each has 6 faces made from 2 triangles. The underside of each matchbox rests on the top of the larger flat board.
If I understand correctly, the top face of the board should be broken up into many smaller triangles to take into account the position of the matchboxes, but coding this by hand (although it might be an interesting Exercise For The Reader) would not be a good use of time. Well-written code that already does this is built into FOSS applications like Blender.
However, Blender cannot merge or fuse shapes that are part of the same object. My current understanding is that I will need to:
- Provide Blender with multiple objects
- Select all the objects
- Use Ctrl-J to merge them
- Export the world in STL format
Is this a valid approach?
If so, my key question is: how do I format the STL file so that Blender will recognize that it contains multiple separate objects?
(I have found references to STL files containing multiple objects, but I have seen nothing in any of the STL files that I have examined that tells me: here is the end of one object and the beginning of another.)
Or should I just be clunky and export two STL files — one for the board and one for all the matchboxes — and then import both into Blender?
NOTE: I know that there are free services like Netfabb that will correct my simple files for me, but I would prefer not to include that in my workflow if possible.