3D Printing A Custom Belt Buckle With Adobe Photoshop

Ever since Photoshop introduced 3D printer support I’ve been hooked on 3D printing. Some of my recent experiments included text extrusions, phone cases, and a dragon. While these are cool, I still wanted to kick it up a notch or two. Those models were all printed using plastic materials, and I’ve been wanting to try out a few other other materials, in particular metal. So in honor of Photoshop World coming up next week, I decided to design and print a Photoshop themed belt buckle in raw stainless steel, and it turned out AMAZING! Far better than I had hoped.

I chose stainless steel because I wanted a minimalistic/industrial look for the belt buckle. The process was actually quite easy. I took a vector Photoshop logo in Illustrator, copied the PS and the square border, and pasted it into Photoshop. Then I extruded it into a 3D object, added a flattened cube on the back, and used cylinder and sphere primitives to create the belt loop and pin. Seriously, this was the complete process. I’m not over-simplifying things. Check out the video below to see a timelapse recreating this model entirely in Photoshop.

When you are creating 3D models, just be sure to pay attention to the object’s physical dimensions in the 3D Properties Coordinates panel.  Set the units to a physical unit of measurement (I chose Centimeters), and create your objects using the exact physical print size.  Also, it’s important to know the physical characteristics and limitations of your target materials, including minimum wall thickness, minimum wire thickness, embossing depth, clearance, etc… Design within these parameters for best results.

3D Properties - Coordinates
3D Properties – Coordinates

Once you’re ready to print, just select your print target and material in the 3D Print settings panel. Then send it to print using the 3D->3D Print… menu.  If you’re using the Shapeways 3D printing service you’ll then be redirected to upload your model and complete the print order.

3D Print Properties
3D Print Properties

A few days later, your print will arrive in your mailbox. However, do not forget to double check your print volume/dimensions after you’ve uploaded your STL to Shapeways. I noticed that some of the minimum thickness checks made the pin too thick, so I generated the STL file for a plastic material, then chose the metal material when actually ordering the print through Shapeways.

I’m really happy with how this turned out, and yes, I’m wearing this belt buckle right now.

3D Belt Buckle (1 of 2) 3D Belt Buckle (2 of 2)

All of this was created in it’s entirety using Creative Cloud. Join now if you haven’t already become a member! If you’re going to be at Photoshop World next week in Atlanta, stop by to check it out and learn more!

3D printing has the potential to completely change how people create physical objects. It enables faster prototyping and iteration in design and manufacturing, enables new forms of artistry and jewelry, and even has applications in medicine.  If you haven’t checked out 3D printing yet, you really should do yourself a favor and give it a few minutes of your time.

  • Sylvia

    Hi Andrew! I need a 3D printing-ready file for a belt buckle that’s a lot like this one, except much simpler (circular, plain, no logo in front). Would you be willing to prep the file for me? I’m happy to pay for your time, and can provide all measurements. Thank you!