Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The utility is easy to use and doesn’t require any additional programming skills. Simply open your stl file in the slicer, pick a printer, set the slice thickness, and hit print. You can scale and rotate the model as well as shift the print position to center it on the page. One thing to note is that the measurements are in metric. You need to convert your stl to millimeters if you want it to print at the size you are expecting. My other observation is that the mesh must be clean and watertight. From what I understand, that’s not unusual for 3D printing. It’s probably also the reason the other software was so expensive. Unfortunately, my meshes are typically neither clean nor watertight (I really need to learn better 3D modeling skills).
I am modeling in Silo and using MeshLab to check and repair my meshes. Some are so hopelessly messed up that I’ll have to go back and start over. (There is also a slice feature in MeshLab but it outputs svg outlines and I need silhouettes.) MeshLab is open source and can be found at Sourceforge (http://sourceforge.net/projects/meshlab/). Silo is available from Nevercenter (http://www.nevercenter.com/about/) for a modest $99 ($159 for the pro version). They have a 30 day trial if you want to check it out and a very friendly and helpful users community. I'm still very much a Noob with Silo but I found it to be much more intuitive than Blender and WAY less expensive than Rhino, Lightwave, or any of the CAD packages (Hell, even Google Sketch Up is like $495 if you want to be able to output anything other than their own format). Again, if this wasn't a hobby (and I wasn't incorrigibly cheap), expese wouldn't be such a big issue.
Anyway, now I need to make my repairs and whip up some test files.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Oh Noooo!!!!! Somewhere around layer 170 one of the belts came loose! I'm going to have to come up with a more secure clamp. Once I get the belts fixed I'll be ready to try again. For now I'm trying to use up the ink in a new cartridge. I tried to refill an old one with the water/vodka mix but it was hopelessly clogged. I figure I'll have better luck with a new one. For now I'll keep working on getting the powder layer as smooth as possible. I also need to install a limit switch on the supply bin so it stops when it reaches the top.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
There are also subroutines to prep the printer/bins for the first page and to input the number and thickness of layers. I also have a countdown displayed so I know how many layers are left.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Stepper motors require a driver. There are two input signals which tell the driver what to do. The first is a step pulse. With each pulse the motor advances (turns) one step. The second is the direction signal. This tells the driver which direction the motor is to turn. The signals are 5v logic and can come from any source (a push button, 555 timer, PC, whatever). A PC running software (like TurboCNC) can be used to turn the stepper an exact number of steps, at the specified speed, in the direction of your choice. I'll use this later to reset the printer and control my bins.
NEXT UP, Resetting the printer to print more than one page.