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Here's the place for discussions about those 3D creations for Tguage...and lets not forget the trials and tribulations of designing and printing.

Current Slicing Software

Postby dkightley » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:13 pm

The software that is used to slice 3D models, etc up so they can be printed on a printer that uses the "Fused Filament Fabrication" method (ie squirting molten plastic out a nozzle) has moved on a long way over the past couple of years.

When I got with my Makerbot, it came with two different packages....Makerbot's own system MakerWare and a freeware package called ReplicatorG. MakerWare is a simple and user freindly package that allowed someone with little or no 3D printing experience to get started...and was what I originally started with! ReplicatrG, on the other hand, is much less user friendly...but has lots of setup parameters that can be changed to cater for differing materials and print sizes, etc. I moved onto ReplicatorG when I started to print smaller parts...with the need to tweak the various parameters to get prints to actually happen!!

Some months ago, I took a look at a review of a slicer package called Simplify3D....which cost £90...and at the time could not justify the spend to get something that did the same as what I had already! There was no try-before-you-buy option, so I left it at that.

A week ago, I stumbled across a YouTube review of Simplify3D.....and it looked interesting! So, I Googled for more information and found out that there were a lot of 3D printer folk who were moving over to this package as it offered a higher level of control over the printing process. Spurred on by this, I "bit the bullet" and ordered a copy! And a few hours later, I was stunned as to how easy this package makes getting tstubborn things to print...in particular, small and complex objects like parts of the bridge I'm building!!

And one of the features this software has is the ability to view a simulation of the actual print process...so it things go wrong, you at least have a shot at seeing what might be wrong! Here's a series of stills from the simulation process....building a T gauge scale house...

First, the printer lays down a raft...which is a few layers of plastic to make sure the object sticks to the build plate:
Build0.JPG
Build0.JPG (106.82 KiB) Viewed 2996 times

Then the layers are put down:
Build1.JPG
Build1.JPG (101.41 KiB) Viewed 3017 times

You can see the way plastic is saved by making the model hollow by laying down the outside with a couple of layers..and then in-filling with a criss-cross matrix. I've set this model at 10% in-fill:
Build3.JPG
Build3.JPG (92.49 KiB) Viewed 3017 times
Build4.JPG
Build4.JPG (102.58 KiB) Viewed 3017 times

And here's the finished model:
Build5.JPG
Build5.JPG (89.98 KiB) Viewed 3017 times

Pretty cool, eh?? :D :D :D
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum http://www.tramway.co.uk
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Re: Current Slicing Software

Postby mattd10 » Mon Dec 01, 2014 12:08 pm

Really cool to see the process in action, as such! It's amazing to think how far 3D printing has come in this short time! Can only get better too!
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Re: Current Slicing Software

Postby ConnorL » Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:22 am

Very interesting! Is the raft removable after the 3D printing is complete or is it now a permanent part of the 3D model?
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Re: Current Slicing Software

Postby dkightley » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:54 am

The raft can be removed after the printing is complete.

The actual spacing between the top layer of the raft and the first layer of the model is adjustable to give differing levels of adhesion. If the part is prone to warping (due to cooling shrinkage), you can specify a small gap (or non at all) to give a high level of adhesion. Alternatively, make the "gap" about 0.15mm and the freshly extruded plastic sort of rests on the raft surface...and sticks where it touches....allowing the model to separate from the raft very easily indeed.

Of course, the raft is not actually needed if what you're printing needs a smooth and flat surface on the bottom, and there's no danger of warping, etc. I just prefer to use a raft for printing buildings...it gives a "glueable" finish on the bottom.
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum http://www.tramway.co.uk
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