Displacement map distorted edges on Closed Polysurface


I was wondering whether anyone could help me with some distorted edges I keep getting when I do a displacement map on a closed polysurface.

I have created a very simple square tile with a little bit of thickness. The end goal is to apply a displacement map and then 3d print the part ending up with a sort of textured square tile.

The polysurface is closed and appears to have no naked edges or structural problems.

However whenever I apply the displacement map to the polysurface, it seems to distort at the edges and outer border. Below are some pictures.

When i extract the render mesh (for STL export) from this displacement map, the mesh is still described as a closed mesh. The mesh also seems to have no naked edges either. So apparently the piece is still structurally sound and 3d printable. However, visually it seems there are polygons overlapping and going into each other which does not seem 3d printable at all.

Is the model simply visually cluttered, yet still printable? Is there another way to make a displacement map with smoother more cleanly finished edges while still maintaining the level of detail and complexity in the more central part of the polysurface?

Thanks for your help!


Hi Christina - run Check on the mesh, and post the results…

Hi Pascal!

Yes here is the screenshot of the check command:

Hello thanks - the image of the scrolled window leaves out the most important parts of the report - please use the Copy All button and paste the entire contents into your message.



Sorry about that. Here is the full message

General information about this mesh:

Mesh has 4 pairs of faces that intersect each other.
This can cause problems if you’re doing mesh boolean operations with it.

Mesh does not have any degenerate faces.
Mesh does not have any ngons.
Mesh does not have any extremely short edges.
Mesh does not have any non manifold edges.
Mesh does not have any naked edges.
Mesh does not have any duplicate faces.
Mesh does not have any faces with directions different from the mesh as a whole.
Mesh does not have any disjoint pieces.
Mesh does not have any unused vertices.

ID: cefbd0cd-093c-4660-834a-1eccdfa5657c (1025)
Object name: (not named)
Layer name: Displacement textuer swatch 2
Render Material:
source = from obj
index = 24

Valid mesh.
Closed polygon mesh: 11519940 vertices, 3839980 faces with normals
Bounding box: (-46.4138,-4.28152,312.264) to (67.7745,2.81848,426.44)

Hope this helps!

This could be a problem - but I can imagine some slicing software might get around it. I’d say fix the mesh but it is tricky locating these self intersections - can you post a file with the mesh?


Hi Pascal!

I couldn’t seem to upload the actual 3dm file so I will provide a drobox link instead. I had to redo the displacement map , now the check command says “mesh has 3 pairs of faces that intersect each other”. Just a heads up!

Thanks again!


Hi Cristina -

I think I understand that your final question is about being able to print this mesh as it is.
That part is hard to answer definitively. As Pascal wrote, slicer software might be able to resolve those 3 pairs of intersecting faces. I would say that it is very likely that the slicer will work on this.
As the Check command indicates, and as far as meshes are concerned, this is a rather nice mesh.

Now, back to the part that I quote above. The purpose of the displacement is to distort the object. All faces of your object will be subjected to the distortion. I might be reading too much into this, but it sounds like you would like to only have the front face displaced. If that is the case, you could sub-object select the front face and only apply the displacement to that face. I would get rid of the small fillet around that face first, though.


So this is an area where Rhino is kind of at a tipping point. The direction you’re going in is something that is, in some ways, better handled in more mesh editing type softwares for a few reasons such as better overall UV mapping control and capability which leads to better overall results for doing this kind of work. Also being to both check and fix a mesh, which Rhino has a lot of tools for, is also very dependent on the computer being used. This kind of work in Rhino, especially when trying to add higher levels of details, can grind things to a halt. Last but not least is the file size. Just saving this model out creates a 1.5GB file and most 3D printing software is going to have issues with files that big which means that the model needs to be decimated. I’ll put a link for a drop box file that is decimated and has very little loss of detail and it’s only 150KB.

All that said one interesting approach is that if you hold “shift+ctrl” and then select the model and apply the displacement it generally tends to not pull apart the geometry which then leads to any type of weirdness in the resulting mesh.

Displacement Mesh - Decimated

Hi Wim!

Thank you for your reply!

In regards to the splicing software I will do some research and try to give it a go. I was definitely not aware that a splicing software could have this much of an impact on a model for 3d printing. As far as I was concerned the model needed to be ready and perfect when it exited the 3d modeling software and entered STL format. This is good to know!

In regards to the textured tile mesh from the images, I tried the ctrl +shift command and then adding the displacement map (Which I read was the equivalent of the select sub-object command) and it seemed to work! The mesh shows up as a closed mesh with no naked edges. When I run the check command there still seem to be intersecting faces, but as we discussed I will maybe try to investigate some splicing software for that part of the proccess.

See images below!

Would you recommend maybe filleting the edges of the overall object were the displacement meets the rest of the tile, and the sharp four corners? I was under the impression that you can never have a sharp edge on a 3d model, and that every edge must have even the tiniest fillet if you intend to 3d print it. Is this correct?

Thanks again!


Hi Arthur!

Thank you so much for your help!

Are there any mesh editing softwares in specific that you would recommend for this kind of work? I am not able to buy any new softwares at the moment, but I imagine there might be some open source ones worth while?

In regards to the file size, I have been noticing that the files are absolutely enormous! I have tried running the “reduce mesh polygon count” command and keeping all meshes to 1m poylgons (1m polygons seems to be the size limit for a lot of online 3d printing services).

I feel like your technique might be a bit more efficient though. Could you please explain how you decimated the model and brought it from 1.5GB to 150KB? I am also really happy to know this is possible without losing an enormous amount of detail!

Thanks again!


Hello Christina,

While I think Rhino is a very capable software, as mentioned, this is an area where a generally higher end computer is need. This is of course kind of subjective on the amount of detail that you’re looking to create. IMO it’s never just about one software it’s about using the software for what you need it for and then working with other software to do what’s needed there.

That said you can still do what you’re doing here in Rhino and then export as a (.obj) file type. You can then use something like zBrush Mini Core (Which is free) or Blender. The file that I sent back was decimated using full zBrush but you’d get the same result with zbrush Mini Core. One aspect that I will say becomes possible if using zBrush is that you can sculpt directly on the geometry that was imported in from Rhino so that you can add/subtract sculpt additional details if you’d like.

Blender is also a very capable software and is also open source and adds aspects like Dynamics and Particles as well as animation as well.

Hope this helps to at least explain some of the process. Also there are 3D printers that will do full color from companies like Stratasys, 3D systems, and Mimaki. So it’s also possible to not just do geometric displacement but also print with the textures and colors.


Hi Arthur!

This was a great help! I feel I have much more of a grasp on the bigger picture of 3d modeling and manufacturing processes now. Thank you so much!

I will begin exploring brush and blender for this project!

Thanks again!