by Zomboe, published

Chainmail by Zomboe May 23, 2011

Featured Thing!

35 Share
Download All Files

Thing Apps Enabled

Order This Printed View All Apps



Use This Project

Give a Shout Out

If you print this Thing and display it in public proudly give attribution by printing and displaying this tag.

Print Thing Tag

Thing Statistics

76848Views 10184Downloads


(EDIT 5/17/2012: License changed to CC SA (was CC SA NC))

Printed Parametric Chainmail

I've been wanting to try this for a while. This is a sheet of interlocking rings, printed in place. The rings are basically square, with cut off corners. Two sets of diagonals cross each other at different heights, with four posts at the corners. Well, it makes sense when you see the pictures!

This is the first thing I've designed in OpenSCAD, so the code is probably pretty sloppy. The major parameters that can be changed are the layer thickness and line width, along with ring size and number.

I searched for "chainmail" on Thingiverse and the only result was a post by Vik on the Interlocking Rings thing: "Next, chainmail. Right?" So I hope you like this, Vik!



  1. Change parameters in OpenSCAD file and export a single ring as STL, OR use included Chainmail 1x1.stl file. It uses default parameters of .25mm layer thickness and .5mm line width.

  2. Use multiply plugin in skeinforge, 4x4 or 8x8 are good places to start, 16x16 will fit on a Makerbot but is more difficult

  3. If you are printing raftless, the bed needs to be very flat and level

  4. Remove from bed by scraping from edges

Alternately, you can try exporting the grid as an STL first, but watch out for the travel moves between extrusions.

Long version:

This is actually a pretty ridiculous thing to print. A stepper extruder is probably required, sorry. I ran into a few problems along the way and it took me some time to get it to print right.

The first issue was patterning the rings to make a sheet. After I had one ring designed in OpenSCAD, it was easy to add some code with parameters to create a grid. I tweaked the spacing using a 4x4 grid with no trouble. However, when I went to 16x16, it took a full 2 hours to compile and render! Since this is the first time I've used OpenSCAD, maybe an expert can tell me if there is something I can do to speed things up.

I had skeinforge process my 16x16 STL which went quickly, since it is only 6 layers. I proceeded to print and was dismayed to see the print head zooming around the printing area, seemingly at random. It had done a remarkably poor job at calculating the travel paths between the print roads. In most cases this wouldn't matter, but the first two layers of the chainmail consist of a huge number (512 for 16x16!) of tiny bean shaped extrusions. Every time the extruder passes over a piece that has already been printed, there is a chance that it will be ripped up, which ended up happening frequently and ruining the print. This might just be an issue with the old version of skeinforge I'm using; other versions might work better.

The solution I found was to use the multiply plugin in skeinforge to create the grid. With the default parameters as used in the STL file (.5mm layer thickness, 2.0 perimeter width/thickness), I found that a setting of -4 worked well for Separation over Perimeter Width. The print order still isn't optimal but it's a huge improvement.

I printed raftless, at low speed. The print bed needs to be very flat and level, especially for bigger pieces. It took me a few tries to get the ideal thickness on the first layer. I also dropped the flow rate by 10%.

I removed the chainmail sheet using a sharp razor blade, very slowly working in from the edges. You can fold the loose edge over to make it a little easier. To join multiple sheets, you will probably have to painstakingly cut a row of rings and then glue them back together. I haven't gotten to that point yet.

For reference, I printed this on a RapMan 3.0 using Ultimachine PLA.


Chainmail 1x1: 7.8mm x 7.8mm x 1.5mm (single ring)

Chainmail 4x4: 23.85mm x 23.85mm x 1.5mm

Chainmail 8x8: 88.05mm x 88.05mm x 1.5mm

The final stretched sheet dimensions will be slightly greater, due to gaps needed for printing.

So far, my best print is the black one shown in the first picture. 255 out of 256 rings are intact!

All Apps

3D Print your file with 3D Hubs, the world’s largest online marketplace for 3D printing services.

App Info Launch App

Auto-magically prepare your 3D models for 3D printing. A cloud based 3D models Preparing and Healing solution for 3D Printing, MakePrintable provides features for model repairing, wall thickness...

App Info Launch App

Kiri:Moto is an integrated cloud-based slicer and tool-path generator for 3D Printing, CAM / CNC and Laser cutting. *** 3D printing mode provides model slicing and GCode output using built-in...

App Info Launch App
KiriMoto Thing App

With 3D Slash, you can edit 3d models like a stonecutter. A unique interface: as fun as a building game! The perfect tool for non-designers and children to create in 3D.

App Info Launch App

Tomalstar1, I'd love to see your clasp, thinking I might do this for my next characters armor. THanks

I designed 1x1 link that has a locking clasp so that you can attach multiple sheets together. If anyone wants this, I'll post it after I print it and try it out. let me know if I should.

please do, that would be amazing

yes please

This print is incredibly difficult for a home-printer at the size given. Print at 2x size at least to get better results.

Hi, i've a makerbot replicator 2x, and i was wondering if i can print thins model, with a good result?
Thank you man!

HI, if you could make a glove design out of this chainmail that would be great! just an idea :)

hey! I'm a new member and I think this chainmail is awesome!

I tried to print a 4x4 but when it prints the "bridges" the PLA collapses down and it melt with the other parts..

How can I do? where's the problem??

Wich kind of settings do you use to realize a clear piece?
I'm using Slic3r..

thank you!

Glad you like the chainmail!

An easy thing to try would be to decrease the temperature. A fan blowing on it is probably essential also.

For example, you can see here the difference that temperature can make: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4591http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

If that doesn't help then it might be your flow rate. I think there should be some things on here that allow you to test your bridging ability. You could try Thing8 (in that link) if nothing else.

The BfB Rapman has nice little buttons that let you alter the flowrate (stepper motor RPM) and temperature during a print. But it should also be easy to do somewhere in Slic3r or g-code directly.

Last but not least you could try scaling the chainmail up, it will be easier to print in general.

by Zomboe

Thank you so much Zomboe!
I will try again with your tips when I have time!
Now you have a new follower :)

I've made it!!!!!
thank you zomboe!! i'm proud of my stuff! =)

Excellent!! Glad it worked out for you!

Neat. I had been thinking about how this machine could work doing scale mail.

Printing this at 2x on a TOM allows me to jiggle the parts free from each other. 

You are godly in your ability to create this!!! Thank you!

Brilliant! Stretching the limits of the possible, to open up an entire new class of creations.

I printed your 16x16 on my Up printer but I uped the scale by 1.4. Worked perfect!! Great job and surpisingly stronger than expected. :)

Good morning Mr Vegetoast.

I just assembled my new UP last night and jumped right in, trying to make some chainmail :)

I couldnt remove mine from the raft so ive now got a lovely chain mail coaster.

Just curious about what settings you used when you printed the 16x16 chain. (other then the 1.4 scale mod)

Thank you

Great print! I'm glad it worked for you :).

Using a suggestion by tbuser, I printed a 4X4 section that I magnified 2X. It printed very well.

try print a endless band of chainmail on a automated printbed!

could be difficult but with the towerfunction i may be possible

If you made your automated printbed controlled by a stepper motor it would be easy. The arduino has spare ports to control two or three more steppers.

also, you could make a killing selling chainmaille shirts for cosplay on shapeways...

take a look at shapeway website. someone made printed bikini:


you might want to scroll down to see how they made it flexible, etc.

Very cool, thanks for the link. I'm curious what it looks like in motion.

I really like that they have a method for automatically tiling a 3D surface.

That's pretty cool! How hard would it be to create something like this: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-65853310/stock-photo-texture-of-gold-chainmail.htmlhttp://www.shutterstock.com/pi...

(Each flat part has a 'pin' coming off of each corner that is bent around the ring below it. Think 'tables and hula-hoops'.)

You could get pretty close by adding a "cap" to every other ring in this model. It would make those pieces quite a bit thicker than the others but should still look pretty good and be flexible.

To properly make the design in the photo would be tricky but should be possible. The rings would probably have to be a bit bigger than in my design here.

Either way, it would be great if someone made some shiny gold colored filament, similar to the silver PLA!

I could make an awesome pool dress or bathing suit out of this mesh. Very cool. Yes, I'm a geek.

Careful there. There are legends and nightmares centered around chain mail bikinis...

The rendering problem with the scad file is:

All the lines with 'syntax error' need a '0' before a value smaller than 1.

ex. bad:

ex. ok:

Happy tryout

from what I understand, when printed, it is already joined, yes? asides, good job!!

Yep! And thanks!

Has anyone tried to join to prints yet? I was thinking that you could clip a link and then re-glue with with Acetone if you are printing with ABS. I am not sure how to re-glue PLA though.

those small 8x8 mailpieces joined together with bands of leather could look awesome. now we just need a durable good metal finish for the abs plastic and were ready to go LARP

It seems like painting will be difficult since you'd need to keep the rings from sticking together. But maybe some kind of dye would work well.

The silver PLA creates a nice finish. If you zoom in on the last picture, you can see that it actually sparkles somewhat. Ultimachine will supposedly have more silver PLA in stock soon.

Durability might be an issue. The rings may need to be larger and thicker. As it is now, it is easy to rip
a sheet by hand.

I've tried a few things to glue PLA parts but I ended up just using 5 minute epoxy.

I do want to try joining sheets at some point, unfortunately I don't seem to have much time lately so it might be a week or so.

I do like the conveyor belt idea!

'hard plastic glue' works wonders with PLA, its what i use all the time :)

Maybe you can 'sew' sheets together with your printer if you print the lower layers of a 1x16 line, lay 2 sheets over it and continue the printing of the seam. The printhead should move up during travel, though.

I was just going to say: another great application for continuous printing.. that's what the conveyor belt was meant for, folks! :-D

Where were you during the wearables contest?

I was thinking "wow it sure would be cool to print some chainmail!" but I'm sure I was distracted by something else!

Going from a small sheet to an actual piece of clothing is going to take some work. Hopefully there are already patterns out on the internet. Ideally we could use OpenSCAD to lay out the pattern pieces, but that will probably require someone with more skill than I. In the meantime, at least it'
s easy to cut with scissors!

Now that the rapture is past. we can wear this in the upcoming "LEGO" wars

The rapture's been rescheduled for October 21st. Jesus was busy or something last weekend....

least the guy that predicted that was raptured (I think)

That's a nice way to start off with OpenSCAD. :-D

Isn't there is a part in Diamond Age where Harv is examining a piece of woven cloth? And he is convinced that it would have been impossible to make without nano-mites?

Also: I am sure I am not the only one here who is thinking that an automated build platform could make long continuous strips of this stuff.

You could potentially print 'material' for clothes well, maybe a scarf!

A scarf that does nothing to stop the wind...

Good thing you didn't say Beetlejuice in that post

The glitch could have started something bad...

hmmm think my laptop was playing up! its not the first time its happened either!

thumbs up on the BJ reference (not mentioned Beat Jui incase of errors again! heehee

Maybe, it has happened to many people before

And didn't use silver PLA? Tsk Tsk. :) Great job, I wouldn't have thought it'd come out so nice.

I do have a small piece of silver PLA that Ultimachine sent as a sample, so that is definitely something I plan to do! I've been wanting to buy a 1 lb roll of silver but they've been out of stock for a while. Black should look good too though.

At long last i can print some Mithril! (Lord of the Rings refference)

All i need is som Ulitmaker Silver PLA!



With some silver-paint brushed on we could create patches of a very leightweigth chainmail-immitation.

Think LARP! :)

And indeed I do like it!

Vik :v)