Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My first slicer

Robert came over and we printed one of his X3G files. An X3G file is a list of commands for the printer. Normally projects start as a 3D model which is stored as a STL file. This is a model file that describes the shape. Then a slicer is used to convert the model (STL) to commands (X3G). Robert helped me skip this step and print one of his X3Gs. Here is what we got:

Notice that the detail is very good and there aren't any regularities in the robot.

My next step was to try to start with a model and produce my own X3G file. This is done using software called a 'slicer'. This is because it takes the model and slices it into layers, then produces tool paths for the printer. Some slicers to a bunch of other stuff like adding supports to allow for overhang.

I looked into Cura 2.3.1 but it doesn't seem to support the X3G output format. So I'm going to try Slic3r which can apparently work. I made a config following those rules and downloaded a gcode to X3G converter. The first thing I noticed is that Slic3r doesn't have pre-set configuration for my printer. This made my first print start off the print plate. I tweaked the settings and got a better result, but it was meant to be a gear which could move, but it wouldn't move.
Bad print (upside down image too)
I'm certain I could tune it to make it work. But time is short, so I bought Simplify3D which Robert recommended. It made a great print first try:

Good Print (rotates like a bearing)
My next project is to get the machine calibrated so it can achieve the more delicate parts with better surface quality and tolerances.