3D Files for Printing Saturn and Rings

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3D Print Files: Saturn and its Rings

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Scale Model Saturn & Rings
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This model provides a good visual representation of Saturn and its complex ring system. Saturn's southern hemisphere is cut off so that the planet and rings sit on a flat surface during and after printing, so the planet can appear whole in reflection as shown. The planet is an accurately oblate hemi-spheroid, and it is surrounded by main rings A, B, and C, plus the inner D Ring and the outer F Ring. The Cassini Division, and the finer Keeler, Enke, and Maxwell gaps are all represented (some gaps may not be discernable if your hardcopy model is printed at less than about 150 mm diameter). The very faint D Ring is modeled as only five discrete strands at arbitrary radial distances within the D Ring space; it's easy to remove them after printing if you want to better illustrate the telescopic view from Earth. A built-in "planet shadow" band holds the planet and rings together on one side for convenience. Another version of the file (shown in these photos) is provided without the "planet shadow" band for those who choose to deal with multiple individual rings all separate from the planet.

3D PRINT OF SATURN AND RINGS The rings' thickness and relative density are greatly exaggerated in the model, in order to be visible at all. They span about 140,000 kilometers at Saturn, but they can be as thin as tens of meters (not even kilometers!) at any given spot. Saturn's E Ring is vast and diffuse and lies far beyond the F Ring; use smoke or fog or aerogel if you want to model its coverage, though particle sizes will still not be to scale. Here's the wiki page for "Rings of Saturn."

The images above and at right shows SCI's proprietor Dave holding a 3D print of the .stl file mounted on a shiny black acrylic panel, in which the hemispheroid is reflected, seeming to make a whole planet.

Use this Saturn model as a backdrop for your free Cassini Spacecraft scale model.

Cassini's 2017 Proximal Orbits

Here is the large-size version of Saturn with its rings and planet shadow shown in the picture above, with the addition of a "sail," which illustrates the "proximal" orbits that the Cassini Spacecraft will be flying, beginning in April 2017. These 6.5-day orbits will repeatedly plunge the spacecraft in between the D Ring and the upper atmosphere, going more than 121,000 km/h. Periapsis of the final orbit in September 2017 will take Cassini into Saturn's atmosphere for intentional disposal. A smaller, simplified, and more robust model than this one is the "98mmProximalSaturn.stl" file listed below. The files for all the larger, more delicate versions (such as the one at left) are also available below, for downloading free of charge.

Download Here Free of Charge

.STL   Download an .stl file ready to send to your printer. Left-or-right-click (depending on your setup) on the link below to select "Download Linked File" (or equivalent) from your browser options:

First, the "easy" small object - about 4 inches wide

This is the version that will probably give the best results overall; it's pictured at right (click to enlarge). This object isn't as delicate as the other options offered on this page, it's small and it doesn't take all day to print. As a model it is fairly accurate, but its B Ring is thickened to help make the object easier to handle. There are only two strands to represent the innermost ring, the D Ring. The model shows Cassini's 2017 orbit, and it may be printed along with the "2017.stl" file below to create the object depicted. If used, the 2017.stl file can be positioned in such a way that it holds together the outermost part of the A Ring and the outermost F Ring, which are otherwise disconnected from the rest of the model.

        FILE IS 4.4 MB

        FILE IS 20 kB

NOTE: If your computer changes the filename extension, change it back to ".stl" after downloading.

Next, files for the larger, more accurate, more delicate versions, pictured in the upper part of this page.

        FILE IS 5.0 MB

        FILE IS 1.3 MB   (No connective "shadow;" may be difficult to remove from printer for display.)

NOTE: If your computer changes the filename extension, change it back to ".stl" after downloading.

.SCAD   If you'd prefer to exercise your knowledge of Computer Aided Design, or if you'd like to start learning it, then download the source code from below. Use the .scad files to edit and tinker with your model. The comments inside all the SCI .scad files makes it easy to see how the OpenSCAD program works. Plus, the OpenSCAD user's manual is easy to find online. Left-or-right-click on the link below to select "Download Linked File" (or equivalent) from your browser options:

        FILE IS 8 kB

        FILE IS 8 kB

        FILE IS 12 kB

NOTE: If your computer changes the filename extension, change it back to ".scad" after downloading.

Dimensions of the model's planet and rings are expressed in SCI's OpenSCAD source lines as multiples of the radius of Saturn, Rs. (The actual value of Rs is 60,330 kilometers to an altitude where the atmospheric pressure is about a millibar.) To change your model's rendered (100%) size, change the value of Rs at the single location indicated within the file. The resolution at which the file is rendered into 3D can also be changed easily in the file, for example if you want to increase the number of longitudinal segments in the planet for a smoother appearance. If you prefer not to have the "shadow" band holding everything together, it's easy to delete from the commented .scad file.

Here's an optional baseplate that you might wish to print beneath SaturnAndRings, if you have the capability to print using a material of contrasting color. There are two approaches: one is to put both .stl files into your printer and arrange them. The other way is to edit the .scad file to make a single .stl file that integrates them. Some printers may cause the baseplate to warp, unless slicing is adjusted to prevent it.

        FILE IS 4 kB

NOTE: If your computer changes the filename extension, change it back to ".scad" after downloading.

Printing Guidelines:

These guidelines are intended for the 98mmProximalSaturn listed above. Experiment and adjust as needed if you are tackling one of the larger, more accurate and more delicate versions.

Designed for printing using FDM, this .stl object only requires a single extruder machine; no external support material is required. White or cream-colored material recommended. If your printer allows, you might wish to print this model directly onto a square of black plastic or black foamcore, etc. Note that your printer may lay down a "skirt" outside the object before printing it. If it does so, don't confuse it with one of Saturn's rings, which it might resemble.

In removing the model from the printer platform, you'll have to be extraordinarily careful not to break the very thin F Ring, which is the single strand at the preimeter of the model (once the "skirt," if any, has been discarded). Laying the model down on a flat surface such as black foamcore after removing it from the printer, carefully adjust the F Ring so it is circular and separate from the A Ring.

After printing an object in ABS plastic, you might wish to expose your model to an environment of acetone fumes, which will condense on the model, dissolving and smoothing its surface. This will also make it adhere to a substrate for display.


  • Select millimeters, SI units, metric, if your 3D printer asks you.
  • Under "Object Placement," be sure to center the object on the platform, and drop it to the platform height (or adjust to optional substrate height, e.g. black foamcore).

  • It is also under "Object Placement" that you have the opportunity to add the "2017.stl" file, to make a print like the one pictured above; the 2017 can be strategically placed to grab onto the outer part of the A Ring, and onto the delicate F Ring, making it easier to remove and handle the printed object.

  • Under "Object Placement," be sure to center the object on the platform, and drop it to the platform height (or adjust to optional substrate height, e.g. a mirror).

  • Select 0.15 mm layer thickness (resolution) on your printer or slicer software for best results.
  • Try "20% fill" on your printer or slicer software.
  • Use "concentric fill pattern" if available on your printer or slicer software. This will print the rings as concentric circles, which mimics the visual appearance of Saturn's rings.

  • Additional files for experimenting:

Designer's Notes

SCI pushed the limits of commercialy available technology in 1987 to make fairly accurate but inexpensive scale models of the Voyager spacecraft; my day job was on the flight team for that NASA spacecraft as a mission control engineer, and I thought more people should be able to learn all about that extraordinary mission (I still do, by the way, and heartily). SCI's mass-produced laser-cut designs pushed right up into those limits; we backed off only a little to ensure robustness. The result has been reliably produced and widely available SCI Kits that can be used here in Earth's gravity to duplicate key visual features of space-exploring machines.

Now pushing forward within the limits of desktop FDM, I'd be happy to get your comments; please write them in the box below, and I'll post them on this page to share with other users if applicable. Please indicate your email address, but I won't publish it unless you were to specifically request. If you'd like to send .scad or .stl files that we can test and then possibly offer (with attribution) for downloading free of charge, please send them as an attachment to dave (at) SpacecraftKits.com.

Thank you.

— Dave

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