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Old 16th Aug 2011, 07:23 PM   #1
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Default Architectural - 3D Printing Info

So, I figured I'd try and write a thing on 3D printing. Hope this is the right spot, since it's technically a procedural reference Been doing it for the past year, and it's been fun. Seen it mentioned a couple times, but I think it's something to warrant some more attention. Will update as time goes by. Anyone who has there own experiences, of course feel free to add it here. Anyone think my info needs to be corrected, please feel free to post your opinion.

Whether you using 3DS Max, Maya, Blender, AutoCad, SolidWorks, ect, you have to plan. Do some 3D sketches, or better yet, go back to pen and paper and just draw it out. Things to pay attention to while planning:

Material Type: The first thing you need to look at after you decided what to make, is what kind of material. There are plastics, corn starch mixtures, powdered mixtures, metals, hybrid metals (example: aluminum+bronze), ceramics, sandstone, ect. There's tons, including some you can have made in different colors (sandstone can be fully textured!!!!). First thing to pay attention to is PRICE. Metal is nice, but it's expensive. If you have the cash for it, go for it, otherwise go with plastic (at shapeways, white, strong &flexible is a good one) and practice those painting skills. Here's a list of materaals shapeways has available: Shapeways | Materials

Dimensions: Once you've figured out waht materail you want, pay attention to it's dimensional limits. Some can be made thin, others have to be thicker. for example, shapeway's alumide material (white, strong & flexible with aluminum dust) has a minimum wall thickness of 1.5mm, minimum detail depth of 0.4mm; white, strong and flexible has a minimum wall thickness of 0.7mm, minimum detail depth of 0.2mm; ceramics has a minimum wall thickness of 3mm, minimum detail depth of 2mm. Pay attention to these. If even just one spot is below the tolerance, it will either one: notb e printed in the first place or two: fall part after it's made. This is where triple checking everything is important. Let me repeat that: TRIPLE CHECK! Jsut like you make multiple back ups of your 3D files, you keep redundancy up to keep mistakes down.

Size: This depends on the 3D printer itself. The printing area on some printers are small (example: 4x8x6 inches) some are larger (example 20x18x30 inches). Some materials are only done on smaller machines, others only on larger machines (metals for example). If you product is larger than the printing area, either re-scale it, or cut it up into pieces, and model it before hand so that it'll be easier to attach the parts together once you receive them.

Poly Count: For those that don't know, if you using programs like 3DS max, Maya, Lightwave, ect, these programs are based on triangles to build up an object. They are called polygons, or polys for short. The computer programs that diceminate these 3D models for printing can only handle up to a certain point. This is where 3D sculpting programs like ZBrush and Mudbox, where hundreds if not thousands of polys is a normal, simply won't work. Msot have a poly count cap of 100,000-150,000, and even that's pushing it, and can slow down the whole process. However, you also don't want too little. Unless it's on purpose, you'll get a polygonal effect. For example, when I first started 3D printing, I was modeling a lightsaber for a client. Well, I only had 100 sides to build up the sides. Once the parts were printed, you could actually SEE the flat sides. So be willing to do high poly modeling. Sub-division is a perfect use here, just put the iterations too high. 3D printers do not interpret surface smoothing, so don't both with it unless your making renders for you client/the public to show off the model.

Time: Time management is an important thing.It takes time to develop a part(s). Unless it's a hella simple model, use some time management skills. Two biggest points are printing tests. Did you get your scaling settings in your program correctly? Did you upload it in the right scale? Is it larger/smaller than it looked in your head (PLANNING), or now that it's in your hands, you decided you want it larger/smaller, maybe even changed? Takes these things into account. Believe me, I've run into all of those issues. Learn from my mistakes, but be willing to make some yourself. It's called learning Also, be ready for your model to fail, and schedule time for that to happen. Even after all of your triple check redundancy, there maybe something inherent in your design that could make the printing fail. Expect it to happen, even if you've been3D printing for a long time, it's a possibility that shouldn't be ignored.

Engineering: For the most part, basic dimensions are all you're going to have to worry about. Thickness, radius, diameter, height, weight, volume, ect. Simple. Now we're getting into move parts. That's right, moving parts. Model an adjustable wrench, print it, and it'll start working right out of the printer. Want a sphere to spin inside of another? Done. Want a device that crawls? Done. A form fitting/flexible/comfertable bikini? Done. Working ball bearings? Done. Seirosuly, all of these things have been created with a 3D printer, and WORK. Example: 3D Printing of Hand-Crank Fan - YouTube

Service Vendor:Pick your service vendor wisely. Shapeways is an awesome company. always working with the community, and always adding new stuff. Infact, just recently, they added materials like ceramics, frosted detail, and alumide. However, shapeways isn't the only one. In Washington alone, I've found over 50 company with 3D printing services. Some, however, are engineering and machinist companies that take shipment orders of 25-100+. So if you're just looking for a one-off, those companies aren't what you're looking for. These companies are nearly all over the world. USA, Canada, France, England, Japan, Australia, ect. Although used for rapid prototyping, 3D printing can be just as good for mass production. If you need a specific service, more than likely you will find exactly what you need nearly anywhere. But justl ike any company where you're going to spend money, do your research.

Do it yourself Home 3D Printers: Ummm... yeah. Unless you have a few grand, not going to happen. There are desktop sized models that some community colleges and universities, and even some engineering companies use for rapid prototyping. These are awesome, and much cheaper than the larger machines. But again, still a couple grand. Give it another 5-10 years IMO. There are also a couple DIY kits that can do a good job, but the materials you can pick from are small, and generally the printing area is small as well. However, don't let that stop you. Supposedly, these DIY kits allow you make larger printing areas. Not sure about that, I need to read up on it some more myself. So take point as me being hopeful Here's some links for ya: http://reprap.org/wiki/Main_Page MakerBot Industries Fab@Home - Make Anything | Fab@Home

Detail: So... what else can you do with it? Parts are cool, but some people want more
Human head, printed in color: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah1067HXNdM
Republic Commando Helmet: http://forum.clonetroopers.net/index...howtopic=15010
Han Solo in Carbonite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8Dqh...eature=related
Tie Fighter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=girPbHqvxrk
Iron Man armor and Costumes (that's right, the second Iron man movie's armor was printed to wear): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwqGRIsgYtA http://www.fastcompany.com/1640497/i...e-3-d-printing

For you physical modelers, this could be a great resource for making small parts, or entire pieces of the ship. For us 3D modelers, this could be in an intro into physical modeling

It's the replicator of the 21st century. Learn it, live it, love it.
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Old 17th Aug 2011, 01:46 AM   #2
david webster
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Interesting read, how about a chocolate printer.
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Old 17th Aug 2011, 06:10 AM   #3
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Great write-up, thanks!
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Old 17th Aug 2011, 08:06 AM   #4
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this has great potential! and good write up
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