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  • How to Turn a 2D Image into a Multi-color 3D-printed Relief with Hueforge

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    In the realm of 3D printing, makers often face a significant hurdle when attempting to bring 2D images to life in vibrant, multi-color prints.

    In recent years, the field of multi-color 3D printing has seen many solutions emerge, as numerous 3D printer manufacturers have launched printers equipped with multiple extruders or automatic filament management systems. With these types of printers, makers can create 3D-printed works with up to a dozen colors. However, the more colors that can be achieved, the higher the cost of the 3D printing device and filament tends to be.

    Furthermore, in the current landscape where CMYK 3D printing technology is not yet widely accessible, even owning a 3D printer capable of creating 16-color prints may not suffice to turn 2D images into finely detailed, color-accurate prints with varied lightness, tones, and shades. This is largely due to the relatively limited variety of colors available in the filament market, making it challenging to achieve this goal.

    But today, we're going to show you some magic by introducing HueForge, a software that creates richly hued, painting-like reliefs from 2D images, even with just two colors. More importantly, this technique works well with all the Snapmaker 3D printers—Snapmaker Artisan (Dual Extrusion), Snapmaker J1/J1s (IDEX), and even the Single Extrusion Models like Snapmaker 2.0 and Snapmaker Original.

    Before we jump into the exciting tutorial, let's first get more specific about HueForge.

    How HueForge Works

    As introduced on its official website, "HueForge is software which allows you to create detailed multi-color 3D Prints using only Swap-by-Layer through a process we call Filament Painting".

    To put it more explicitly, HueForge achieves multi-color design through the layering of filament. The question then arises: how do we, or HueForge, know which filaments can exhibit different color effects when stacked, and which are more easily able to show varied color effects through layering?

    This brings us to the concept of Transmission Distance (TD). For example, many painting software applications allow users to set the transparency of brush colors. When transparency is set to 0%, layering the same color multiple times does not result in any variation in shade. However, when transparency is set above 0%, repeating the layering process makes the color on the canvas progressively darker, until it matches the color with 0% transparency.

    Similarly, the higher the TD value, the higher the "transparency" of the filament shown in the print, making it easier to achieve a richer depth of color through stacking, either by itself or with other filaments. Vise versa.

    Filaments produced by different manufacturers often have different TD values, and the stacking of the same filament, different filament, or different colors of filaments can all result in a variety of richer colors and shades.

    It is also because HueForge achieves multi-color design through filament layering that it can convert a 2D image into a 3D printable relief model. Therefore, to accurately set and preview the visual effects of relief models in HueForge, it is necessary to specify the correct TD values of the available filaments. To facilitate user operation, HueForge includes a vast library of filaments covering many mainstream manufacturers' products, with corresponding TD values that have been tested and can be directly applied. For filaments not in the library, HueForge also provides a simple method for testing the TD value, which is detailed in the third section of this article.

    In short, once you import a 2D image into HueForge and set the TD values for the filaments to be used, you can design a unique relief model by adjusting the number of layers and the layering order of different filaments.

    Sample Tutorial

    Now that you have a basic understanding of how HueFore works, let's practice using our sample image with your Snapmaker right away! The tutorial will be completed using the Snapmaker Artisan 3-in-1 3D Printer and the Dual Extrusion Model, while the process and steps are compatible with other Snapmaker printers.

    You can use our recommended settings or make any adjustments to create your unique relief from it.

    Step One: Create the Relief Design with Hueforge

    1.   Download Hueforge.

           You can purchase and download HueForge from its official website.

           说明.png HueForge is compatible with Windows and MacOS 11+, and there are several pricing plans available for different usage needs.

    1.   Download and import the sample image into HueForge.

     

           Sample Image.png  

           Drag the file into the interface of HueForge or click File > Open File > Image in the top menu to import the image.

           After the image is successfully imported, the relief preview (on the right) will be displayed next to the imported image.

           By default, the preview consists only of black, grey, and white colors, which you can change in later steps.

            说明.png HueForge supports images imported in the formats of PNG, JPG, JPEG, and WEBP.

            提示.png If you want to create reliefs without a background, you should first remove the background from the original image using graphic processing applications like Photoshop before importing it into HueForge.

    1.   Specify the parameters of the relief.

               ⅰ. In the General Options and Operations panel, adjust the basic parameters of the relief. 

                  Our recommended settings are shown in the picture (except for the width and height, which you can adjust according to your own needs).

               ⅱ. In the Model Geometry panel, adjust the geometric parameters of the relief. 

                    Our recommended settings are shown in the picture. We only modified the Min Depth to 0.48 and the Max Depth to 4.00, while you can also try experimenting with other parameters on your own.

    1.   Select the filament used to print the relief.

          On the Filament Library panel, drag the color icon of the selected filament to the slider in the Color Sliders panel. The colors we use are black, green, red, orange, yellow, and white.

           说明.png If the filament you own is not listed in the default library, you can also add new filament and test

    its TD value according to the third section of this article.

           提示.png You can use filaments in the recommended colors above if they happen to be at your hand or use filaments in any other colors that you prefer and that are available around.

    1.   Tweak the visual effect of the relief with the color sliders.

           In the Color Sliders panel, move the sliders up and down to change the layering of filament.

           Our recommended settings are shown in the picture (except for the TD values, which vary with filament and require additional testing for filament not listed in the default library).

           提示.png High-TD white filament can be used as a smoother for color or brightness, generally placed between two colors that need to be smoothed.

    1.   Generate the key information.

           In the General Options and Operations panel, click Describe.

           A window will pop up displaying key information needed for slicing: layer height, initial layer height, filament info, and most importantly, the filament swap instructions. You can either click to copy the information elsewhere convenient for later use, or click to generate it again when needed.

    1.   Export the STL file.

           In the top menu, click File > Export STL to export the STL file for slicing.

    Step Two: Configure the Parameters with the Slicer

           To demonstrate how to add the M600 command (for filament changing), we will use PrusaSlicer for slicing.

           Before proceeding, you need to download and import the profile of Snapmaker Artisan: in PrusaSlicer, click File > Import > Import Config.

            SnapmakerArtisan_PrusaSlicer_config_bundle.ini

    1.   Import the STL file and adjust the slicing parameters.

    ⅰ. In PrusaSlicer, import the STL file, click Print Settings, and switch to the Advanced mode.

               ⅱ. Adjust the parameters as specified below, as they are necessary for a successful relief print:

        • Perimeters: 1
        • Fill density: 100%
        • Fill pattern: Rectilinear
        • Top fill pattern: Monotonic Lines
        • Bottom fill pattern: Monotonic Lines
        • Detect thin walls: On

                ⅲ. Check and make sure that the layer height and the first layer height set in the slicer are consistent with the Layer Height and Base Layer already set in HueForge.

                ⅳ. Set the Black filament (or the "start with" filament described in the key information, as shown below) as the default filament for the model.

    1.   Add the filament changing command (taking our HueForge configurations as an example).

               ⅰ. Click Slice now. It might take a while for the G-code preview to display.

                ⅱ. Along the layer bar on the right, find and click Layer 12 (1.16 mm).

                ⅲ. Right click the plus sign that appears beside, click Add color change (M600) for: and select the Extruder 1 to add the filament changing command at that layer.

                说明.png PrusaSlicer does not support the settings for the Dual Extruder Module. Therefore, you have to use one of the two extruders, which you choose to heat by operating on the Touchscreen, to print the entire relief.

               ⅳ. Along the color selection window, change the color to Green.

                ⅴ. Click Slice now to save the added command.

                注意.png In the following steps, each time after you add the command and change the color, be sure to click Slice now to save the settings.

                ⅵ. Along the layer bar on the right, find and click Layer 16 (1.48 mm).

    微信图片_20240229162532.png

                ⅶ. Add the M600 command and change the color to Red.

                ⅷ. Along the layer bar on the right, find and click Layer 25 (2.2 mm).

                ⅸ. Add the M600 command and change the color to Orange.

                ⅹ. Along the layer bar on the right, find and click Layer 33 (2.84 mm).

                xi. Add the M600 command and change the color to Yellow.

                xii. Along the layers bar on the right, find and click Layer 38 (3.24 mm).

                xiii. Add the M600 command and change the color to White.

          In this way, the printing will pause at the layer where the M600 command is added so that you can manually change the filament.

    1.   Double-check all the settings.

               ⅰ. Check if the key slicing parameters are specified as required.

                说明.png The commands you have added will be saved even if you switch to the Print Settings tab.

                ⅱ. Click Slice now again.

                ⅲ. In HueForge, click Normal in the General Options and Operations panel to switch to the slicer preview mode, and check if the preview looks the same (or almost the same) as the G-code preview in the slicer.


    1.   Export the G-code to the printer and start printing.
    1.   Manually change the filament when the printing pauses as configured.

                ⅰ. After the printing pauses at a specific layer, tap on the Touchscreen to set the temperature of the working nozzle to 200℃.

                ⅱ. After the nozzle is heated up to 200℃, manually unload the filament.

        1. Open the front cover of the toolhead.
        2. Press the extruder buckle downwards to expand the dual-gear extruder.
        3. Pull the filament out of the toolhead.

                提示.png You may need to use a little force or heat the nozzle to a slightly higher temperature to assist the unloading.

                ⅲ. Manually load the new filament.

        1. Insert the filament into the toolhead until it is pushed right into the feed hole of the hot end and is extruded from the nozzle.
        2. Gently push the filament down until the old filament is completely extruded out and the new filament runs out smoothly.
        3. Press the extruder buckle back in place and close the front cover.

                ⅳ. On the Touchscreen, tap to resume printing.

                ⅴ. Repeat the above steps each time when the printing pauses as configured.

    How to Test the TD Value of Filament

    Testing the TD value of the filament used to print the relief is very important, as it relates to whether the relief preview you see in the HueForge matches the actual printing result. You can take the following steps to conduct the test.

    1. In the local directory of HueForge, locate the Step_Test_Sqaure.stl file in the Tools folder and import it into HueForge. The interface should display as below.
    2. In the Color Sliders panel, adjust the first four sliders to match the ones displayed in the picture.
    3. At the bottom of the Filament Library panel, click New Filament to add the filament you want to test.

    1. Take a photo of the filament in a well-lit environment and use the eyedropper tool to extract the color of the filament from the photo.
    2. In the Add Filament window, specify the necessary information about the filament. You can keep the TD value at its default setting for now, as it won't have any impact on the testing result.
    3. Click and drag the color icon of the newly added filament into the second slider to replace the default grey color.
    4. Export the STL file, configure the settings in the slicer, and print the model out.
    5. In HueForge, adjust the TD value of the tested filament in the Color Sliders panel until the relief preview looks as close as possible to the print.

    Useful Tips for Large Prints

    For large-sized prints, you can increase the success rate of printing by following these tips:

    • Adjust the first layer height appropriately. For example, when printing objects with a horizontal or vertical size of 300 or 400 mm, you can set the layer height as 0.2-0.28 mm (just for reference).
    • Turn off the part cooling fan during printing.
    • Preheat the heated bed to the target temperature for 15-20 minutes before printing to stabilize the bed deformation. It is also recommended to raise the bed temperature appropriately (to 70-75°C, for instance).
    • Wait until the first layer is printed successfully before leaving, as it can take some time to read the file before printing, during which the temperatures of the nozzle and heated bed may decrease.
    • Adjust the height of the working nozzle as necessary to enhance the first layer printing result.
    • If there are strings on the print, you can reduce the nozzle temperature by 5-10℃ to improve the print quality.
    • If you are using Snapmaker Artisan:
      • After preheating, calibrate the Z offset of the left and right nozzle, and use the right nozzle to calibrate the heated bed (either at 25 or 81 points).
      • When heating and loading the nozzle, make sure to heat the heated bed simultaneously to avoid sudden drops in the bed temperature.
      • Use the glass side of the build plate and apply printing adhesives.

     

    Learn more about Snapmaker Artisan 3-in-1 3D Printer.

  • Dual Extruder and IDEX: The Pros and Cons Simply Explained

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    Whether direct drive or Bowden, different extruders work pretty much the same way — the filament is inserted into the extruder, and the motor and gears drive it into the hot end, which will then use electrical heating (e.g., resistance heating) to melt the filament. Finally, the liquified material is evenly extruded out of the nozzle onto the heated bed, stacking up layer by layer to form a 3D object.

     

    Most printers only have one extruder, while some have two. So, which is better — single or dual? If your pocket is deep enough, two is better than one for the most part. In fact, dual extruder 3D printers have become more and more common in recent years, and are even trending to replace single-head printers.

     

    Why are dual extruder 3D printers trending?

     

    Dual color or material combo

     

    Dual extruder can print objects using two different filament colors or types on the same print. This allows more complex and colorful prints.

     

    Snapmaker Dual Extrusion 3D Printing Module mounted on Snapmaker 2.0

     

    Two-color printing is not that uncommon. Even with a single extruder, similar effects can be achieved by manually changing the filament. However, if you want to use two different materials on the same object, for example ABS and TPU to print a flexible/rigid combined object, manually changing filament can be very troublesome, and is prone to failed prints because optimal settings for the two materials are different. Rather than risking it with great effort, it's better to just print them separately and glue them together.

     

     

    In contrast, when using a dual extruder printer, you can set different parameters for each extruder directly in the slicer software, and complete dual material printing in one print job.

     

    Breakaway and soluble support

     

    The ability to print easily detachable (or “breakaway” as a trade name) and soluble supports is perhaps the primary reason most people buy a dual extruder 3D printer. Removing supports after printing can be tedious and time consuming. And if you don’t do it properly, your print can be ruined by marks, pits, divots or blemishes on the surface finish.

     

    Breakaway support

     

    Breakaway support materials are formulated to have low interlayer adhesion and be mechanically brittle, so they break away cleanly with little force. Soluble materials can dissolve in water or other solvents. PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) is the most commonly used one. It is highly sensitive to moisture and decomposes when in contact with water. Taking advantage of this property, it can be used as a support material to fill some difficult-to-reach geometries that allow liquid to flow into. After printing, soaking the print in water dissolves away the supports, leaving behind a smooth printed surface.

     

    Soluble support

     

    Some additional functions

     

    Dual extruders also enable some additional functions, such as a backup mode. In single-extrusion printing, if the active extruder fails or clogs, or the filament runs out, the idle extruder can take over and finish the remainder of the print. This improves overall uptime and reliability.

     

    Improved slicing software

     

    It is mechanically simple to build a dual extruder system by just duplicating parts, but the real challenge is in the software. The popularity of dual extruder goes hand in hand with improvements in slicing software. The slicing algorithms are better at planning optimal toolpaths for dual extruders to minimize travel moves and retracts. They also do well in assigning different model parts to be printed by each nozzle to maximize use and minimize idle nozzles. Software advancements have made dual extruders more user-friendly and reliable, allowing wider adoption.

     

    Drawbacks of Dual extruder

     

    With the growth of the 3D printing industry, desktop printers are more affordable and easier to use nowadays. Dual extruder has also become a common feature on many budget products, allowing more users to experience the benefits of dual printing. However, dual extruders also have some flaws:

     

    Source: Simplify3d

     

    • Cross contamination and collision: In dual-color printing, the idle extruder can ooze material due to residual heat and cause contamination when it glides over the printed part, or even bump into it if the nozzle is too low.
    • More maintenance: Twice the hot ends means twice as many parts to check, clean and replace when there are jams or clogs.
    • Relatively smaller build volume: Since the extruders themselves take up some length on the X axis, dual-head printers will have a smaller build volume compared to single-head given the same printer frame size. This is especially noticeable when upgrading from single to dual head.

     

    The maintenance and build volume drawbacks are probably unavoidable, but contamination and collision can be solved. The most common way to deal with contamination is setting retraction in the slicer, which prevents oozing by temporarily reversing the filament in the extruder during travel moves.

     

    Another method is using a prime tower — printing another object concurrently with the main print, giving oozing or leaking inactive nozzles a place to purge material instead of on the print. Similar solutions include ooze shield, which surrounds the printed part so any oozed material gets wiped off on the shield when the nozzles are close to the print.

     

    Ooze shield (Source: IceSL)

     

    Some printers also have a wiping device installed directly on the machine at the same height as the nozzle, so the nozzle can wipe off any residual when passing over it. Simple yet practical.

     

    Snapmaker J1s's nozzle wiper

     

    However, these don't solve the collision issue, and prime towers/ooze shields increase time and material usage. In comparison, mechanically lifting the inactive extruder seems more versatile. For example, the Snapmaker Dual Extrusion Module uses motors to automatically raise/lower the extruders, avoiding both contamination/collisions, and allowing fast, quiet extruder switching.

     

    Auto extruder lifting of Snapmaker Dual Extrusion Module

     

    Finally, there is the ultimate solution — an IDEX (Independent Dual Extruder) 3D printer. As the name suggests, the two extruders can move independently. When printing with one head, the other can park inactive in a corner with no need for heating. When both are active, they print independently with no interference. However, to further reduce ooze impacts, IDEX printers may still employ wiping devices, retraction, prime towers, etc. during dual extrusion printing.

     

    Independent v.s. dependent dual extruder system

     

    IDEX has some advantages over regular dependent dual extruders, but also poses some challenges for manufacturers and users.

     

    Snapmaker J1's printing in duplication mode

     

    Advantages

     

    • Minimal contamination and collision: In dual printing, the idle extruder parks in a corner rather than moving along with the active extruder. And before the next printing job, the extruder can wipe off any oozed material using a wiping device or prime tower. So IDEX can effectively eliminate ooze contamination and collision issues.
    • Mirror and duplication printing: IDEX printers can double the productivity by printing two mirrored or identical objects simultaneously. Very useful for mass-producing small items like chess pieces.
    • Less weight and higher accuracy: Compared to a mechanically linked dual extruder, one single extruder of an IDEX printer is lighter, allowing faster moves with less floating mass and higher accuracy.

     

    Disadvantages

     

    • More difficult to manufacture: Precisely aligning the independent extruder carriages and extruders demands tight manufacturing and assembly tolerances.
    • Trickier calibration: Calibration is one of the biggest challenges in IDEX printer design. The two independent extruders not only need to be calibrated with the bed, but also to each other in the X, Y and Z axes. Poor calibration can cause cracks or even print fractures due to poor layer adhesion.
    • Higher cost: IDEX not only has higher R&D costs on software, but also requires an independent or semi-independent motion system on the hardware side, including motors and carriages for each extruder. If not sharing an X-axis, additional linear rails, leadscrews or belts are also needed. These factors mean IDEX printers generally cost more than regular dual extruders.

     

    How to choose from single extruder, dependent dual extruder, and IDEX

     

    Here are some things to consider when making the choice:

     

    Single Extruder

     

    • Simplest and most affordable option;
    • Easier to calibrate and maintain;
    • Limited to single color/material prints.

     

    Dependent Dual Extruder

     

    • Dual color or material printing without much filament waste;
    • Allows dissolvable and breakaway supports;
    • Costs more than single extruder;
    • Potential collision risks and idle oozing issues;
    • Trickier calibration.

     

    IDEX

     

    • Can print identical or mirrored objects twice as fast;
    • Dual color or material printing without much filament waste;
    • Allows dissolvable and breakaway supports;
    • Minimal risk of collisions or ooze;
    • Highest cost and calibration needs.

     

    In general, for most hobby printing, a single extruder is sufficient. For two color prints or easier support removal, consider a dependent dual extruder. For advanced applications or speed, an IDEX system may be ideal if budget allows. Hope you can find your dream printer!

     

  • The linear guide rail systems on 3D printer axes: All you need to know

    20231109-172347.png

    3D printing technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. One moment we are discussing making small toys to entertain children, and the next second we see news that a 3D printer has built a concrete building that can withstand an 8-magnitude earthquake. Given time, "3D printing a 3D printer" also seems possible.

     

    But leaving prospects aside, what hobbyists and makers care more about are still desktop 3D printers — what types there are, how fast they print, and how much they cost. If you like getting to the bottom of things, or ever tried DIYing a 3D printer before, you must also have pondered this question: how do they move?

     

    XYZ, I3 and CoreXY are currently the most popular styles of desktop 3D printers. This is how they move: the machine has one or several axes in the X, Y and Z directions of the 3D coordinate system. One end of each axis is equipped with a motor to provide power. Synchronous belts or leadscrews then convert the motor's rotation into linear motion along the X, Y and Z directions. Finally, with the linear guide rail systems in the 3 directions, the machine can position the nozzle at any point in the 3D space formed by the axes, extrude the filament, and create a 3D object.

     

    Linear guide rail system on Snapmaker Artisan.PNG

    Linear guide rail system on Snapmaker Artisan

     

    Why are guide systems important?

    The guide systems mainly serves 3 purposes during printing:

    • Precision: Realize tight tolerance, prevent wobble, and ensure the print head or heated bed installed on the guides moves linearly along the predetermined direction;
    • Smoothness: Reduce friction with bearings or rollers, and contribute to smoother motion;
    • Reliability: Guiding structures with excellent rigidity can improve machine reliability and contribute to more consistent prints over time.

     

    The variety of guide systems

    In general, the guide systems used on 3D printers include:

    • Wheels & profiles
    • Linear rods & bearings
    • Linear rails
    • Embedded linear rails (introduced by Snapmaker)

     

    Wheels & profiles

    Source Kywoo3D.PNG

    Source: Kywoo3D

     

    Among all the guides, the combination of wheels and profiles is probably the most common and cost-effective. There are typically 3 to 4 rollers running along the V- or T-shaped groove of the profile to guide the movements.

    POM wheels.PNG

    POM wheels

    Source: Printer Mods

     

    The outer ring of the wheels is most commonly made of POM (Polyformaldehyde), and the inner ring is made up of steel and ball bearings. POM has high strength, low deformation, and excellent abrasion resistance, making it especially suitable for making printer wheels. With proper use, POM rollers can last hundreds of hours. Some manufacturers also use PC (Polycarbonate) to make wheels, which have even higher strength and longer life, though at a slightly higher price.

    PC wheels.PNG

    PC wheels

    Source: I3D Service

     

    To ensure linear motion, the wheels should grip the profiles properly. Too loose and vibration can occur at high speeds. Too tight will increase wear — accumulated debris can pile up between the wheels and rails, causing bumpy or jittery motion. So users need to adjust the wheel tightness based on how the printer works, clean debris, and replace wheels when necessary. Compared to other guides, the wheel and profile combo requires more frequent maintenance.

     

    Additionally, plastics have lower rigidity than metals. Wheel deformation during motion is hard to avoid, so printers using wheels generally have lower precision compared to those with steel guides.

     

    V-slot profile.png

    V-slot profile

    Source: 3D Printing Store

     

    The profiles commonly used on 3D printers are available in two types: V-slot profiles and T-slot profiles. As the names suggest, the main difference between them is the cross-sectional shape. Different profiles pair with different wheels to achieve good guiding effects.

     

    Since the profiles are customizable, inexpensive, and with sufficient performance, the combination of wheels and profiles is the top choice for many DIY 3D printer builds.

     

    Advantages

    • Good guiding performance, cheap and useful;
    • Abundant options, widely available;
    • Easy to install, use, and modify;

     

    Disadvantages

    • Lower precision;
    • More prone to vibration;
    • Requires more frequent maintenance.

     

    Linear rods & bearings

    The limitations of wheel and profile guides have led DIYers and manufacturers to shift more attention to another combination with superior precision and stability — linear rods and bearings. In the past few years, rod and bearing guides have become almost synonymous with guide systems for 3D printers. At least 2 rods and 2 bearings are needed for each axis of the printer. The bearings either wrap or cling to the rods, while connecting to carriages mounted with an extruder or heated bed, to guide the linear motion.

     

    Linear rods with linear bearings.png

    Linear rods with linear bearings

    Source: Amazon

     

    A linear rod, aka smooth rod, is simply a cylindrical steel rod, available in various sizes — 3D printers typically use 8mm diameter ones. Rods can be machined to high dimensional accuracy with very smooth surfaces. Paired with ball bearings, properly assembled rods can achieve fairly good linear motions.

     

    And yes there are also drawbacks of being smooth. When used for guidance, the rods need to be fixed at both ends with metal clamps. Also, bearings can not only move linearly but also rotate 360° around the cylinders. That's why they need to be attached to bearings on another parallel rod to let the extruder or heated bed move linearly. Parallelism between two rods can be challenging, especially for DIYers.

     

    So, using shaft guides means higher precision and stability on one hand, but also larger footprint and weight, along with higher assembly difficulty on the other.

     

    Snapmaker 2.0 Linear Module sectional view (linear rods in dark grey; U-groove bearings in yellow).png

    Snapmaker 2.0 Linear Module sectional view (linear rods in dark grey; U-groove bearings in yellow)

     

    The bearings used with rods are mainly U-groove bearings and linear bearings made entirely of steel. U-groove bearings resemble wheels that can roll along the rods. Linear bearings have a cylindrical sleeve on the outside, with several rows of balls on the inside that can cycle along the shaft. Both can accomplish smooth guidance with minimal friction.

     

    Rods and bearings are long lasting, only requiring occasional cleaning of buildup on the rods and lubricating the bearings. If the rods are enclosed in a housing instead of acting as the frame (e.g. Snapmaker 2.0's Linear Modules), disassembling the housing and lubricating the bearings is straightforward. However, replacing worn out bearings after prolonged use can be slightly tricky.

     

    Advantages

    • Excellent guiding performance, high precision, moderate cost;
    • Abundant options, widely available;
    • Low maintenance frequency;

     

    Disadvantages

    • Larger footprint and weight when enclosed;
    • Parallelism can be a problem;
    • Replacing bearings can be tricky.

     

    Linear rails

    Linear rail, also referred to as linear guide, has been trending in recent years. The steel rail part has a track on each side, and the sliders nested on it contain 2 sets of ball bearings that can cycle along the tracks. In addition to industrial 3D printers, more and more desktop manufacturers are also using linear rails in their high-end product lines, such as Snapmaker's J1.

     

    Source Adafruit.png

    Source: Adafruit

     

    Although both are made of steel, when it comes to actual work, linear rails are less susceptible to bending and vibration compared to rods. This is mainly attributed to their unique mounting method. Rods are only fixed at both ends, while linear rails have mounting holes at regular intervals on the surface, allowing them to be tightly secured to the housing or other support structures.

     

    This ensures stable linear motion and improves print quality on one hand, and increases the speed limit by preventing excessive shaking at high speeds on the other. This is one of the reasons J1 can achieve high-speed printing.

     

    J1 IDEX 3D printer with linear rails.PNG

    Snapmaker J1 IDEX 3D printer with linear rails

     

    During assembly, linear rails can guide a single axis without pairing, saving space and weight to make the machine more lightweight and compact. There is also no need to worry about rail parallelism.

     

    Source Birailmotors.PNG

    Source: Birailmotors

     

    It all sounds great, but what's the catch? The price. Rough calculations show that while the sliders for linear rails have similar prices to the bearings for rods, the rails themselves cost about 2.5 – 4 times that of a pair of rods at equivalent lengths. In comparison, rods are cheap and good enough. Weighing the extra cost against performance gains, most DIYers would still opt for rods and bearings.

     

    For maintenance, linear rails are similar to the former, requiring regular lubrication of the bearings. Exposed rails also need occasional cleaning.

     

    Advantages

    • Very high precision;
    • Supports high-speed printing;
    • Small footprint, convenient to use;

     

    Disadvantages

    • Cannot serve as support structures, needs to be installed on profiles, etc.;
    • Expensive.

     

    Embedded linear rails

    Instead of using the above guides directly, some manufacturers, for the purpose of advancing technical capabilities or catering to specific products, are also exploring better solutions. Embedded linear rails are what Snapmaker chose for its Artisan model.

     

    Snapmaker Artisan with embedded linear rails.png

    Snapmaker Artisan with embedded linear rails

     

    The core strengths of linear rails lie in the high rigidity of the steel rails and the precise, smooth motion enabled by the ball bearings. These advantages are preserved in embedded linear rails.

     

    When making the Linear Modules, Snapmaker embeds two steel strips into the inner walls of the aluminum alloy housing, then CNC grinds the steel precisely into rails with micron-level machining accuracy. Also, with the wider embedded rails, rigidity is further improved without increasing weight, better suiting high-power CNC operations — after all, Artisan is a 3-in-1 product, and ordinary 3D printers do not require such extreme rigidity.

     

    Compared to directly mounting linear rails on the surface of extrusions, embedding the steel rails inside the linear modules prevents dust buildup on the rails, reducing maintenance frequency. It also makes the modules more lightweight and compact, so that an expensive machine does not end up looking like a DIY enthusiast's project. However, embedding linear rails does pose considerable manufacturing challenges for the producer, with no cost advantage over normal linear rails.

     

    Advantages

    • Same as linear rails: very high precision, supports high-speed printing, small footprint;
    • Rail rigidity further improved;
    • Lower maintenance frequency with rails enclosed;

     

    Disadvantages

    • Expensive;
    • Not suitable for DIY.

     

    Summary

     

      Linear rails Linear rods & bearings Wheels & profiles Embedded linear rails
      1.png 2.png 3.png 4.png
    Precision ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐
    Rigidity ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    Lifespan ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐
    Ease of use (in DIY) ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐

    Can not be used

    for DIY

    Maintenence frequency 😫 😫 😫😫 😫
    Maintenance difficulty 😫 😫😫 😫 😫
    Cost 💰💰💰 💰💰 💰 💰💰💰



  • What Is TPU Filament and How Can I Use TPU with Snapmaker?

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    Characteristics of TPU filament

    TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a soft resin that is resistant to bending, tension, and friction. And

    it also has excellent chemical resistance. TPU is one of the most commonly used materials in 3D printers, because it can be used to make parts with rubber-like elasticity and impact resistance.

     

    Advantages

    • It is relatively inexpensive, easy to handle, and can produce parts with softness that cannot be obtained by the SLA printing method.
    • Adhesion between layers is strong. By adjusting the wall thickness and infill, it is possible to make parts with various characteristics.
    • Depending on the application, you can make soft parts like rubber tires or strong, unbreakable parts like gaskets and seals.

     

    Disadvantages

    • TPU is a material that easily absorbs moisture. Moisture absorption can cause bubbles or poor flow during printing, which can have a negative impact on products. Therefore, it requires more attention to storage and drying than other materials. For more information, check out this article: 3D Printing Filament Storage and Drying: Why and How.
    • As explained in the next section, printing is technically more difficult than PLA. Supports are difficult to peel off, so it is necessary to create shapes that require as little support as possible.
    • Like PLA, heat resistance is not good, so care should be taken.

     

    ___1.png

     

    Why is printing with TPU so difficult?

    Differences in difficulty between different types of extruders

    Proper pressure must be applied from the extruder to feed the filament out of the nozzle.

    Bowden extruder used in some 3D printers has the advantage of having a small and lightweight head. But the long distance from the extruder to the nozzle makes it difficult to extrude TPU filament, which is soft and cannot be tensioned. Therefore, it is challenging to print TPU on a Borden-type 3D printer. Generally, higher temperatures, slower speeds, and avoidance of retraction are used.

    The direct extruder used by Snapmaker allows the extruder and nozzle to be in close proximity to each other, allowing the proper pressure to be applied to even the softest TPU filaments. As a result, temperature and speed settings can be set to fit TPU, and retraction can be performed to enhance the quality of products. But still, printing with TPU is not easy.

     

    ___2.png

     

    Difficulties arising from the wide variation of TPU filaments

    Like other filaments, TPU filaments come in a variety of types. In particular, Shore hardness is a characteristic measure of TPU. Generally, a smaller Shore hardness indicates softer material and a larger Shore hardness indicates harder material.

    Even with the similar TPU materials, it is more difficult to print well than generic PLA because settings must be adjusted over the characteristics of the filament.

     

    Troubles and solutions when using Snapmaker

    Cannot extrude

    Snapmaker direct extruder uses a combination of a single gear and opposite roller to extrude the filament. Soft TPU may bend in Snapmaker extruder and cannot be extruded properly, causing filament jamming.

    • Lower the Printing Speed and Retraction Speed to increase the flow.
    • It is recommended to use Polymaker TPU95-HF for TPU printing due to its high stiffness. 
    • Carbon residue in the inner wall of the nozzle can lead to greater resistance. You can change the nozzle regularly.

    Depending on the types of TPU filaments, Snapmaker may not be able to solve the problem. If the problem persists, please refer to the Snapmaker forum. You may find solutions from other users.

     

    ___3.png

     

    Deformation during printing

    The flexibility of TPU allows for deformation during modeling due to the thin-walled structure of the structure and its own weight.

    • It is recommended to modify the structure or add infill.
    • Increasing the flow rate may prevent deformation. In this case, the molding object will be slightly larger.

     

    Ragged object

    Insufficient amount of extrusion tends to cause this problem. As well, too much or too fast retraction can cause a ragged object due to bubbles.

    • Increase the extrusion flow. 
    • Slow down the printing speed to secure the amount of extrusion per unit time.
    • Reduce retraction distance and speed.

    Note: Although it makes the product slightly stiffer, use the infill pattern gyroid for hollow structures to reduce the possibility of retraction.

     

    ___4.png

     

    Stringing

    Stringing is one of the most common problems that occur when printing with TPU. It is difficult to completely avoid it due to its characteristics, but there are ways to reduce it as much as possible.

    • Slightly decrease printing temperature.
    • Accelerate travel speed.
    • Enable Retract at Layer Change option.

    Note: Increase retraction distance and decrease retraction speed are common answers, but they are inapplicable to Snapmaker due to mechanical differences, which would increase the possibility of filament jamming.

     

    ___5.png

     

    Unable to detach from the build plate

    TPU has strong adhesion to the heated build plate. Depending on the print settings, it may be difficult to peel off the object from the print sheet.

    • Use the Z offset to move the nozzle an extra distance (about +0.1 mm) from the build plate.
    • Detach objects while the build plate is still heated with Pallet Knife. Be careful not to touch the hot surface of the build plate.
    • Decrease initial build plate temperature.
    • Use duct tape or masking tape to the print sheet.

    Note: Generally speaking, a new print sheet provides stronger adhesion.

     

    Snapmaker Luban settings

    Here are some specific settings for Snapmaker Luban to solve the above problems.

    Note: It is recommended to use Polymaker TPU95-HF for TPU printing.

     

    Material settings

    • Printing Temprature: 225℃
    • Fan: ON
    • Build Plate Temperature: 50-60℃
    • Extrusion Flow: >120%
    • Retraction Distance: 2.5mm
    • Retraction Speed: 15mm/s 

    Printing settings

    • Layer Height: 0.1-0.3
    • Initial Layer Height: >0.25
    • Initial Layer Line Width: 150%
    • Shell Thickness: >0.8
    • Infil Pattern: Gyroid
    • Printing Speed: <25mm/s
    • Travel Speed: >70mm/s

    Note: Typical settings can be downloaded here. Use these .json files on Snapmaker Luban. Click on the gear icon at the upper right, then click on the import icon in the bottom left corner of the settings. Check the image below.

     

    ___6.png

     

    Printing samples

    Depending on your ideas, TPU has unlimited possibilities. Please enjoy Make Something Wonderful!

     

    ___7.png

    Crawler

     

    ___8.png

    Toy Parts

     

    ___9.png

    Fitted Lampshades

     

    ___10.png

    Flexible Toolbox             Speaker Sealing

     

    __20221018-192531.jpg

  • How to Turn 3D Printed Parts into Concrete Masterpieces

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    Introduction

    For many, the ability to print out nearly any object one could imagine from the comfort of their home is equal parts astonishing to inspiring. Now imagine if you could transform those relatively robust plastic creations into rigid long-lasting masterpieces. Well, I’m here to tell you that the process is surprisingly easy, and I’ll help guide you along every step of the way. Let’s get right into it, starting with the process overview, which details the key aspects of converting plastic 3D printed components into their concrete counterparts.

     

    ___1.png

     

    CAD Modeling: Turning the concept of your project into a three-dimensional object.

    3D Printing: Converting the STL file into a tangible part, via additive manufacturing. 

    Silicone Molding: Casting a negative silicone mold of the 3D printed parts.

    Concrete Casting: Filling the negative silicone mold with concrete. 

    Decorating: Arranging modular planters and adding decorative plants and materials.

     

    How to Video

    https://youtu.be/40XSeIGZyiU

     

    Concrete Planters

    Project Introduction

    When I started this project, I wanted to design a modular planter that was able to be quickly configured into different arrangements. The design would have to be relatively minimalistic to ensure ease of 3D printing, silicon molding, and concrete casting. In addition to these design constraints, I wanted certain components to be stackable, adding another level of modularity to the system. 

     

    Design Considerations

    When I started the design of this project I wanted to have the ability to quickly rearrange the planters and pavers to create different layouts. I achieved this modularity by sub-dividing the base shape which was an elongated hexagon into 3 unique shapes. The main shape is a pentagon, which has three different configurations, depending on the application of that component. For example, if you wanted to create a vertical stack up, you would start with a base planter and then add as many hollow planters as you would like. Because these shapes are derived from the base elongated hexagon, they can be added in a repeating pattern to create new and unique shapes.

    ___2.png

     

    ___3.png

    Figure 1.0: Base Shape constructed using four hexagon pavers.

     

    ___4.png

    Figure 1.1: Two examples of the different configurations that are possible with the modular components.

     

    Bill of Materials

    • PLA Filament
    • Mold Star 30 Silicone
    • Quikcrete Mix
    • Potting Soil
    • Decorative Filler Rocks
    • Decorative Moss
    • Succulents
    • Hot Glue Gun
    • 3D Printer
    • 330-Grit Sandpaper
    • 220-Grit Sandpaper
    • Plastic Sheet
    • Mixing Bowl
    • Mixing Stick

     

    CAD Modeling

    The first step is turning the concept of your project into a three-dimensional version, which will allow us to export as an STL. This STL can later be processed by the slicing software, and we will get into that in the next step. 

     

    Slicing and 3D Printing

    Before we can begin printing, we need to first convert our STL file into G Code. This is carried out by the software Snapmaker Luban, which “slices” the models into thin layers and creates tool paths in the form of G Code, allowing the printer to interpret the data and turn the compilation of individual layers into a printable part. For a more detailed explanation of slicing and G Code, check out this article: Slicing and G Code: The Bridge Between 3D Model and 3D Printer

     

    ___5.png

    Figure 1.2: Slicing the hollow planter component in software Snapmaker Luban.

     

    Post Processing

    Once the printing process is completed, we can begin post-processing the components. Due to the geometry, most of the parts don’t need support material during printing and therefore most of the surfaces on the print are smooth. The only exception to this was the hollow planter, which could be printed in an orientation that would allow for no support material. However, I wanted the parts all to be oriented the same to ensure the fillet on the top surfaces was consistent. I started by sanding the parts using 220 grit sandpaper, this removed any major surface blemishes and gave the parts a relatively smooth finish. From there I applied filler primer to all the parts and let them dry. The filler primer did an excellent job filling in any small voids or gaps between layer lines. From there I sanded the parts once again, this time using 330 grit sandpaper, resulting in an almost perfectly smooth surface finish. Although sometimes tedious post-processing these parts is a key step in this project to ensure a high-quality finished product. Since the silicon mold will capture any small blemishes in the part, which will in turn be reflected in the concrete casted parts. 

     

    ___6.png

    Figure 1.3: Sanding filler primed hexagon paver with 330 grit sandpaper.

     

    Mold Setup

    Since I used a trial bottle of Mold Star 30 silicone I had to optimize the shape of the mold shell. I started by arranging the components I planned to cast in CAD and then designed the shell around them. Making sure to leave enough space between components to ensure the silicon mold hard rigid enough walls to support the concrete during curing. The mold shell was also 3D printed although, I didn’t post-process it at all since the surface finish on the perimeter of the silicone mold wasn’t important. The next step was to hot glue the post-processed prints to a base, I used a plastic sheet from an old picture frame. Then I placed the mold shell around those components and hot glued it as well. It’s important to make sure there are no gaps between the mold shell and the base, otherwise, the silicone will slowly leak out since it’s not very viscous. I didn’t use any mold release spray for this project, but you could use some if you wanted to ensure easy removal of the 3D-printed parts once the silicone cured. In my case, I was able to remove the parts with minimal work even without any release spray. 

     

    ___7.png

    Figure 1.4: All components and mold shell layed out and hot glued to plastic base.

     

    Mixing Silicone

    There were a few reasons I chose Mold Star 30 silicone for this project. The primary reason was that this specific silicone rubber doesn’t require a vacuum for degassing and has a low viscosity, which allows it to easily flow into small areas. To prep, the platinum silicones are mixed 1A:1B by volume, meaning no scale is necessary. I chose to pour each bottle into a common container and mixed them until a homogenous solution was achieved. Once the silicone was ready to be poured I slowly began filling the Mold shell, making sure to fill in all the little channels between the components and the shell. The last step in the silicone molding process was to agitate the silicone. This is a very important step, which removes any trapped oxygen bubbles within the silicone. If bubbles aren’t properly evacuated from the silicone, it will likely impact the surface finish on your final concrete parts once you cast the silicone mold. This could have been avoided had I used a vacuum chamber to degas the silicone, although I didn’t have one at my disposal. In the end, the features that were generated in the concrete parts due to residual trapped air bubbles ended up being a surface feature I came to appreciate and enjoy in the parts.   

     

    ___8.png

    Figure 1.5: Filling the mold shell with Mold Star 30 silicone. 

     

    Component Removal

    I started the component removal process by pealing away the flexible plastic base followed by pressing the silicone through the mold shell, leaving just the silicone mold with the entrapped 3D printed parts. From there it was as simple as pressing the 3D printed parts out since most parts were glued directly to the plastic base. Except for one part, which required me to add relief cuts to the silicon mold. These cuts would prove to be extremely useful once it came time to remove the concrete cast parts.

     

    ___9.png

    Figure 1.6: Silicone mold, once all 3D printed parts have been successfully removed.

     

    Mixing Concrete

    There is an expansive list of potential concrete mixes one could use for a casting operation like this. I opted for the Quikcrete sand/topping mix since the powder was relatively fine and I was able to easily source it from my local HomeDepot. The first step in mixing the concrete was to pour an appropriate amount of concrete powder into a mixing bowl, then added water. The general rule of thumb is to get the concrete to a consistency similar to that of oatmeal. You want the concrete to be wet enough to flow into the silicone mold nicely, but not too wet. When concrete is mixed with too much water it dries weaker, overly porous, and is more prone to cracking. 

     

    ___10.png

    Figure 1.7: Concrete mixing process, just before adding water and stirring the mixture.

     

    Concrete Casting

    When casting the silicone mold with concrete, it’s important to pour slowly. This helps to limit the number of air bubbles that are trapped within the mold. To aid in the evacuation of trapped air, I once again agitated the silicone mold by vibrating it. This brought the vast majority of air bubbles to the surface, although there were still some trapped lingering bubbles. These air pockets ended up giving a unique surface finish on the final parts and became something I liked.    

     

    ___11.png

    Figure 1.8: Carefully filling the silicone mold with the concrete mixture.

     

    Post Processing

    Once the concrete had dried completely I removed the parts from the silicone mold. The next step was to sand down the small amount of “flash” on the bottom surface of the parts. This is caused by the silicone mold not being filled all the way with concrete. When this happens the concrete experiences capillary action, which causes the concrete to stick and rise on the perimeters of the mold. Additionally, I sanded a few regions on the hollow planter parts to ensure they would have a slip fit with other components when stacked.   

     

    ___12.png

    Figure 1.9: Sanding concrete hollow planter with 220 grit sandpaper block.

     

    Decorating

    With our post-processed components completed, it's time for the fun part. I started by laying out an arrangement that I liked. From there I decided which areas would have plants and soil, and the areas which would only have rocks and moss. The stack-ups of the hollow planters were filled with soil, to help provide nutrients for the succulents I planted within them. As a finishing touch, I added some small rocks around the succulents and filled a few other areas with rocks and moss. I opted for a succulent and moss-themed design, but there are many other styles one could choose. For example, a desert-themed planter with cactus and sand.  

     

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    Figure 2.0: Adding small river rocks to cover the soil surrounding the succulents.

     

    Finished Product

     

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    ___15.png

     

    Alternate Applications

    The process of turning 3D printed parts into a silicone mold and then using it to cast in another material could be applied to a wide range of projects. Although the complexity of these 3D printed parts is somewhat limited, there are design choices that can be made to overcome these limitations. Additionally, the material you choose to cast with can vary as well, for example, you could replicate this project but use chocolate instead of concrete. The possibilities are nearly endless. If you’re interested in trying out this manufacturing process but aren’t sure where to start, here are some project ideas to get you started:  

    • Concrete Vases
    • Desk Organizers
    • Concrete Coasters
    • Candle Holders
    • Phone Stands
    • Business Card Holder

     

    Conclusion

    At first glance, it probably seemed like a daunting task to produce a consumer-quality concrete component from a few 3D printed parts and some silicone. But once the manufacturing process is broken down into its fundamental steps, it becomes a much easier project to comprehend. Hopefully, as you’ve progressed through this article you’ve developed a better understanding of how to turn 3D printed parts into concrete masterpieces and found some inspiration for your own DIY projects along the way.

     

    Now go out there and Make Something Wonderful!

     

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  • Print Sheet Maintenance: Useful Tips You Should Know

    Print_Sheet_Maintenance.jpg

    Hello, Maker!

    As known to all, initial layer adhesion is critical for FFF 3D printing, on which we would spend a lot of effort, such as tuning the slicing parameters or using various tools. That’s also why Snapmaker specially designed a detail-rich print sheet to minimize the troubles. Now, let’s take a look at this product and learn some basic daily maintenance and cleaning skills.___.png

    Design & Material

    The print sheet of the Snapmaker 2.0 machines consists of two parts: the steel plate and surface stickers on both sides.

    The steel plate is made of carbon steel with high toughness and strength. Though the print sheet can be bent slightly, it will immediately return to its original flatness once the force is stopped, thus ensuring that the entire printing platform can always be kept flat during printing. At the same time, its magnetic design also provides great convenience for removing prints and replacing the print sheet.

    _____.gif

    Although not fixed with screws, the strong magnetic attraction between the print sheet and the heated bed helps them stick firmly together. Without intended human force (which must be very strong, actually), the print sheet will not move during printing.

    ___.gif

    The sticker of the print sheet is made of polymer materials, of which the surface is specially processed to further improve the adhesion effect of the initial layer. Though named as “sticker”, it is highly flame-retardant, oxidation-resistant, as well as heat-resistant. 

    ____.jpg

    Thanks to its material properties, the print sheet sticker can effectively accelerate the cooling process of the extruded filament when the initial layer is printed, making it adhere to the print sheet faster and better, and also reducing the possibility of wrapping. Internal tests have shown that our specially designed sticker can effectively improve the initial layer adhesion of a wider variety of filaments, compared with the Polyetherimide (PEI) stickers or coatings used in many other printing platforms.

    Moreover, the print sheet of Snapmaker 2.0 has stickers on both sides. This not only ensures the flatness of the steel plate when heated, but also increases the utilization of the print sheet. You can switch the front and back sides at will to use, thus reducing the frequency of replacement.

    __.gif

    How to Avoid Print Sheet “Injuries“

    Traces or marks may be left on the print sheet due to various reasons over repetitive use. If not handled in time, they can affect the printing quality. For example, filament residues on the print sheet may negatively impact the initial layer adhesion in the next printing. What’s more, if filaments of different colors are used over two successive printings, the bottom of the latter print is likely to be branded with an undesirable “gift” from the former print, as shown below.

    ____.png

    Also, dented traces pressed out by the nozzle on the print sheet may leave some “3D tattoo” on your future prints.

    ____.png

    Some of these traces are reversible and can be erased by later cleaning, while others are permanent. Therefore, before we proceed to cleaning methods, let’s go over some preventive measures and precautions that can help you avoid such “injuries” to the print sheet.

    1. Don’t set the Z height too low.
      Many Makers, including myself, tend to set the Z height as low as possible during the heated bed leveling or after the printing starts, so as to reduce potential problems that can happen to the initial layer adhesion. However, the nozzle can easily leave dents on the print sheet in doing so. At the same time, the extruding of filament may be hindered or even stopped if the nozzle is too close to the print sheet, which could give rise to discontinuous lines, uneven surfaces of the printed object, or even nozzle jams. A failed printing process can be restarted, a jammed nozzle can be cleaned, but the dent left on the print sheet is irreversible. What’s more, an excessively low Z height may cause the filament to stick too much to the print sheet, bringing about more troubles in the cleaning process afterward.

      __.png

    2. Don't take out or elevate the print sheet when the machine is still working.
      Sometimes when the printing of the initial layer is not going well and thus you decide to remove the filament and start over, you might just take out the print sheet directly without pausing the machine. In this case, the distance between the nozzle and the print sheet will suddenly decrease, and the nozzle may leave dents or traces on the print sheet as a result.

    3. Use masking tapes on the print sheet.
      As one of the favorite tools among Makers, masking tapes can improve the adhesion of the initial layer. Every time before a new print, you can just conveniently tear the old tapes off and apply new ones. More importantly, they won’t damage the print sheet. If your print sheet already has traces that can affect printing quality, you can cover them with masking tapes to minimize their annoying effects.

      There are things you should pay attention to when using masking tapes:
      • Do not overlap masking tapes, for the nozzle may lift the overlapped part of the tapes when printing the initial layer. Beyond that, take special care when sticking the edges of masking tapes. When the 3D printing module finishes heating and moves from the bottom left of the print sheet to the target area, it may easily scratch up the edges of masking tapes.
      • The area covered by masking tapes should be larger than the printing area; otherwise, the nozzle might also scratch the edges of the tapes.
      • Level the heated bed again after applying the masking tapes before printing. This is because the tape itself has a certain thickness, so printing without a second leveling may cause extra problems.
        ___.png
    1. Apply washable glue to the estimated printing area on the print sheet before printing.
      Note that one or two thin coats of glue are enough, and make sure the glue is applied evenly to avoid lumping. When the printing is completed, you can easily remove the glue traces with water and a towel. Besides,
      it’s better to clean the glue immediately after printing when the heated bed has not cooled down, or you can clean the glue with warm water.
      __.gif

    2. Set the Line Count to 3 or above if you choose Skirt as the Build Plate Adhesion Type in the slicer.
      Setting the build plate adhesion type helps enhance the initial layer adhesion, but when you select skirt and set the line count to a value smaller than 3, there are chances that some filament residues would stick to the print sheet and be difficult to remove.

    Cleaning Tips

    We have collected some practical cleaning tips from our colleagues and forum, which can be roughly divided into physical and chemical ones. When there are filament residues or grease on the print sheet, you can try some of the methods below.

    Physical Method

    You might be wondering: Nobody cooks on the print sheet, so where does the grease come from?

    In fact, our skin produces natural grease that might stick to the print sheet while we operate the 3D printer. Besides, dust from the air can also fall on the print sheet. The accumulation of grease and dust over time will inevitably affect the adhesion performance of the print sheet. Therefore, we need to clean the print sheet regularly, even if there is no filament residue. If you print frequently, it’s best to wipe the surface of the print sheet with a clean towel after each printing.

    The simplest and most effective physical method to remove filament residues is as follows.

    1. Heat the heated bed to a temperature above 70℃ (gloves are suggested to protect your hands).
    2. Clean the print sheet either with the palette knife in the Snapmaker tool box, or with a similar plastic tool.

    Be careful about your force in the process so that the palette knife doesn’t damage the print sheet. It’s recommended that you hold the front part of the knife with great care, concentrate the force of your fingers, and slowly clean the residues.

    The palette knife might leave some tiny scratches during this process, which are tolerable as long as they don’t affect the flatness of the print sheet.


    __.gif

    Chemical Method

    Actually, we don’t recommend that you use the chemical method. As mentioned before, the surface of the print sheet sticker is specially processed for better adhesion performance. However, the chemical solvents may damage the surface. Therefore, use the chemical methods as a last resort and with caution even if they can help sometimes. Only when the physical method doesn’t work and you have no other print sheets for replacement can you try the chemical ways.

    According to tests, the 70% (or above) isopropyl alcohol (IPA) may help remove filament residues yet must be used in a well-ventilated area with protective measures. Additionally, ensure the heated bed has cooled down when using this method because the IPA is highly volatile.

     

    It should also be noted that for filament residues accumulated for a long time, neither physical method nor chemical method is of much help. Therefore, it’s better to clean the print sheet after each use.

    If one side of the print sheet cannot be used anymore, switch to the other side. If the damaged side is uneven with filament residues, you need first remove the residues before switching, or the flatness of the print sheet could be influenced. If both sides of the print sheet are damaged, you can place an order at our official store for a new print sheet with a few clicks!

     

    We hope this article could be useful for you!

    In the future, Snapmaker Academy will bring you more fun topics, so stay tuned!

    If you are interested in other content of 3D printing, feel free to contact us at support@snapmaker.com or leave your message in the community.

     

    Disclaimer

    All the methods in this article are for reference only.

    Snapmaker does not assume responsibility for loss, injuries, damage, or expense arising from or in any way connected with the methods in this article.

  • 3D Printer Nozzle Jam: Main Causes and Cleaning Methods

    Nozzle_Jam.jpg

    Hello, Maker!

    Did the nozzle jam ever happen to your 3D printer?

    I printed a model a few days ago and walked away for a while during the printing. When I came back, I just found my 3D Printing Module was moving back and forth while no filament was not extruded out, and the module was happily going farther and farther away from the model under my eyes...

    __.gif

    It turned out that the nozzle was clogged!

    After going through relevant information and asking for help from our Engineers, I finally made the nozzle work again and completed my printing. In this article, I will share the method with you in case you are bothered with the same problem someday.

    Why It Happens

    There are actually many reasons for nozzle clogging, but they are mainly related to the following three factors:

    1. Filament degradation
    2. Improper operation
    3. Component malfunction

    Filament Degradation

    The nozzle is the only way out for the filament during printing. Therefore, if your nozzle is clogged, it has something to do with the filament you use in most cases.

    The filament quality is the first thing to consider. As 3D printing becomes ubiquitous, the filament market is booming with a dazzling of different brands, features, and colors. But their quality varies. Poor-quality filaments often contain impurities beyond standard limits, which accumulate over time and are likely to clog the nozzle. Moreover, such filaments usually have inconsistent diameters, which can also lead to nozzle jam. Therefore, have second thoughts on cheap filaments since they might result in a lot of maintenance costs in the future.

    But will good filaments solve the problem once for all? The answer is negative.

    The storage of filaments also matters in that moisture and dust that accumulate on the filament are also common causes of nozzle jam. After wetted (due to poor storage), the filament will gradually become harder and more brittle. It may easily break in the module and hence cannot be extruded smoothly out of the nozzle. In addition, wetted filaments have a higher melting point, which can also lead to nozzle jam. When the filament is extruded out from the nozzle, the dust with it will not be melted and extruded together. On the contrary, they will accumulate at the nozzle outlet, and clog the nozzle over time. For more information about filament storage and drying, see 3D Printing Filament Storage and Drying: Why and How.

    Improper Operation

    Many of your habitual operations will unknowingly cause nozzle jams. A few typical ones are listed as follows.

    1. The most direct improper operation is actually not having the habit of cleaning the nozzle. If you want to reduce the chance of nozzle clogging, you must first remember to clean the nozzle to remove the residues left inside or outside after each printing (the specific methods will be introduced later). If not removed, the residues inside the nozzle will inevitably cause nozzle jam over time, and those left outside may prevent the nozzle from being heated up to the specified temperature. As a result, the filament cannot be fully melted and thus clogs the nozzle.

      __.jpg.jpg

    2. The filament is not changed or unloaded according to regular procedures. If you directly cut it off or even roughly pull it off, you may find that the new filament cannot be extruded properly the next time you print.
    3. The printing temperature is not set correctly. The temperature is too low for the filament to be fully melted, which will lead to nozzle jam over time. Here is a tip: When the machine’s working temperature is low in winter, you can increase the printing temperature by 5-10℃. But remember, don’t set the temperature too high, either. Otherwise the filament will soften before it should. In this case, the gear will not be able to push forward the filament through the nozzle but chew a spot in the filament, which is known as “Heat Creep”. Furthermore, at an excessively high temperature, the filament may liquefy and stick to the outer surface of the nozzle more easily.

      __.jpeg

    4. If the nozzle is set too close to the heated bed during leveling, the filament will not be extruded out smoothly and will accumulate inside the nozzle,  causing jams after cooling. This is generally due to the inaccurate manual leveling of the Heated Bed, or the failure to calibrate the distance between the nozzle tip and the heated bed in the last step of Auto Leveling. If the filament is not extruded when the initial layer is first printed, this is likely to be the case.

      ____.gif

    5. The print speed is too fast, and the filament cannot be melted adequately before extrusion. Over time, the nozzle will inevitably get clogged.

      _______EN.jpeg

    6. Too much retraction or too much tension in the feeding gears will also increase the risk of nozzle jam.
    7. When the nozzle moves to the warped edge, it is likely to be topped by the raised part, and the filament that would have been normally extruded will also be temporarily blocked in the nozzle at that moment. If this happens more times, the nozzle may become clogged.

      __.gif

    8. Different types of filaments are switched frequently. If you first use the filament with a high melting temperature and then switch to use another filament with a much lower melting temperature, the residues of the first filament are likely to accumulate inside the nozzle to accelerate jams.

    Component Malfunction

    As we mentioned above, an excessively high or low printing temperature can result in nozzle jams. But sometimes, at a proper printing temperature, the nozzle still gets clogged. The reason might be that the heating component of the 3D Printing Module has failed to heat the nozzle to the specified temperature, or the cooling fan inside the Module has malfunctioned, leading to early softening of the filament.

    How to Identify

    A nozzle can be partially or entirely clogged.

    In the former case, the filament can be extruded from the nozzle, but it will show some unusual signs. For example, you find debris in the gears if opening the front cover of the 3D Printing Module; the nozzle extrudes much thinner filaments than usual; or the extruded filament has a rough surface.

    ___.png

    For the latter, it is much easier to tell if the nozzle is clogged. For example, as we described at the beginning of this article, the module idles and no filament is extruded out; or the filament has been inserted into the module, but no filament is extruded when you load the filaments after the nozzle is heated.

    How to Avoid

    You are lucky if your 3D printing module is free from the above abnormalities. But, you still need to prepare for a rainy day. The easiest way is to go against the causes:

    1. Buy filaments produced by qualified manufacturers;
    2. Protect your filaments from dust and moisture;
    3. Check if the filament will break easily before printing;
    4. Set a proper printing temperature for different types of filaments;
    5. Empty and clean the nozzle as soon as possible after printing;
    6. Remove the filaments and store them properly if the 3D printer will be left unused for a long time;
    7. Always turn on the printer and heat up the nozzle before unloading, changing, or loading the filament.

    How to Clean

    Here are some methods of cleaning your nozzle in printing routines and after clogging.

    Routine Cleaning

    1. Turn off the printer and wait for the nozzle to cool down, then disassemble the nozzle and clean its outer surface with a cotton swab dipped in anhydrous ethanol. Please take protective measures beforehand, such as putting on gloves.
    2. Start the printer and heat the nozzle, then clean it with tweezers after the filament on the outside of the nozzle is melted.

      ____.gif

    3. If you do not want to turn on the printer, you can detach the nozzle and then heat it with a heat gun before performing the cleaning. But you need to be careful to prevent burns.

    Clogged Nozzle Rescue

    1. If the nozzle has been clogged already, first check if the nozzle tip is sealed by residues against its outer surface. If yes, follow the daily cleaning steps to remove the residues and see if the filament can be extruded smoothly.
    2. If the nozzle is clogged inside, first heat up the nozzle, unload the filament and then insert a needle slightly thinner than the nozzle inside to unclog it. You can also use a wire or guitar string as an alternative, as long as it can be inserted inside.

      __.gif

    3. If the type of filament that clogs the nozzle is known for sure, heat the nozzle and insert a harder filament with a higher melting point into the 3D Printing Module to unclog the nozzle.

    We hope this article could be useful for you.
    In the future, Snapmaker Academy will bring you more exciting topics, so STAY TUNED!
    If you are interested in other topics of 3D printing, feel free to contact us at support@snapmaker.com, or leave your message in the community.

     

    Disclaimer

    All the methods in this article are for reference only.

    Snapmaker does not assume responsibility for loss, injuries, damage, or expense arising from or in any way connected with the methods in this article.

     

  • 3D Printing Filament Storage and Drying: Why and How

    Filament_Storage_and_Drying.jpg

    Hello, Maker!

    Today we’re going to talk about a topic that is important yet easily neglected (and will surely bring you problems someday if so): Filament storage and drying. Ten minutes taken for reading this article, and troubles in the future saved!

    Why Serious About Filament Storage

    Have you ever bought many filaments at one time when there's actually not much need? Do you always tear their packings and try them all in the first place? And do you seldom use up a spool of filament before you start with a new one?
    If the answers are yes, I guess that most of the filaments you've purchased are left unused in some corner now, and some of them might have been “killed” by the moisture if you haven't paid any attention to the environment and methods for their storage and let them stay exposed to the open air.

    ___EN.jpeg

    Almost all kinds of 3D Printing filament are hygroscopic, which means they can absorb the water from the air and end up wet sooner or later.

    "Being wetted" seems no big deal since it happens so commonly in our daily life, but things go different for 3D printing filaments in that it can bring about irreversible changes and lead to severe consequences in at least three ways as follows.

    ___EN.jpeg

    • Quality degradation
      The physical properties of the filament change as it becomes wet. For example, the filament will swell in diameter, not easy to notice with your naked eyes though. At the same time, it will also turn harder and more brittle, which makes them easier to break, thereby increasing the difficulty of use and maintenance.
      20211217____EN___.jpeg
    • Bad print
      When the wet filament is heated in the nozzle, the moisture contained in it will boil and produce many tiny bubbles. This gives rise to an unstable flow of the extruded filament, and therefore a rough and uneven surface of the print. What's more, after the printer has given the order for the nozzle to stop extruding, the filament is very likely to continue to run out of the nozzle since the moisture in it will be boiling for a while, which causes strings on the print, a real headache for many makers.

      ___EN.jpeg
    • Printer damage
      Not joking, printing with wet filaments can bring damage to your machine. As we just mentioned, wet filaments are more prone to be stringy during the printing, and that will likely clog or even damage the nozzle. Additionally, the melting point of the filament will become higher when it is wetted. Thus, the filament will not be melt so well at the original temperature, which possibly causes the nozzle jam too. Beyond that, if the filaments are left unused in the machine for a long time, they will swell in diameter, as said before, and get stuck in the nozzle.

    Some may wonder: wet quilts can be easily dried if put under the sun, then how about the wet filament? Can we restore its quality by drying it?
    Research shows that drying helps, but the quality of the filament will still decrease by 33% even after it is perfectly redried, since its physical property has been changed more or less, which cannot be recovered simply by drying the moisture contained in it.

    So, how exactly does its physical property change?
    When the filament absorbs water, they react with each other. The filaments are polymer — until water molecules break up all the secondary molecular bonds and change them into monomers, and this is also the reason why wet filaments are harder and more brittle.

     

    ____EN.jpeg

    If you have been long confused by problems like filament quality degradation, bad prints, or clogged nozzles without any clues, it's time to think about the storage of your filament.

    Appropriate Storage Conditions

    The temperature and the humidity are the two of the most key factors to consider here.
    Generally speaking, you should store your filament away from direct sunlight and where the temperature is not too hot or cold. Data show that filaments such as PLA, TPU, PC, Nylon, etc. are better stored between -20 ℃/-4 ℉ and 30 ℃/86 ℉. The humidity is better kept between 10% to 20%. If it goes higher than 50%, your filament is very likely to be wetted. Nevertheless, the most suitable conditions differ from filament to filament, and that's why most professional filament manufacturers generally include instructions or guides inside the packaging, describing in detail the properties and storage conditions of their filaments. Just remember not to throw them away at first!

    ____.jpeg

    Ways to Store Filament

    Several things need to be clear before we talk about the storage methods:

    • Even if the filament can be stored for up to two years in an ideal environment, it's recommended that you buy just as much as you need
    • Try to use up the filament in a month after it starts to be exposed to the air;
    • If you have to leave it unused for the moment, don't keep it waiting for more than one year.

    Now, let me introduce the moisture-proof storage methods for filaments that are more popular (and economic) among makers.

    1. Put your filament in a sealed bag or box with enough desiccant packets inside or a whole layer of silica gel beads on the bottom. You can also put inside a cheap electronic thermometer that tells both the temperature and the humidity, which enables you to monitor the storage from time to time.
      You don’t need to buy the desiccant packets in particular—just collect them from the snack bags. Silica gel beads are also a good choice because they can be heated and dried for reuse at regular intervals. In addition, some makers said that it would be better to wrap the silica gel beads in cloth bags, because the cloth helps absorb water too.
      Although the household sealed storage box can meet the demand, many makers designed special containers for storing filaments. You can download the file and print one out directly, or make some adjustments and create the most suitable filament container for yourself!

      Filament dry box for 3-4 spools of filament

      Filament Storage Solution
      Build your own DIY filament box

      DIY___.png

    2. Try a vacuum bag, put inside again desiccant packets or silica gel beads, and force the air out of the bag with a pump. It's more suited to store the filament that will not be used very frequently.
    3. If you happen to have a cat and use the crystal cat litter, you can borrow some to store your filament. The crystal cat litter is made of silica gel, so it can work as the desiccant too. Just look out for one thing: don't let the cat mistake that you've got it a new toilet...
      ___EN.jpeg
    4. Again if you have a pet, you can use the pet food container to store the filament. Generally speaking, such containers are made satisfactory in being airtight, for the pet food absorbs moisture easily too.
    5. Choose professional filament storage equipment. Several filament manufacturers have developed specially-designed containers for makers to best store their filaments. Although it might be a little more expensive than other methods, it saves you time and effort in the long run.

    How to Judge Whether Filament Is Wet

    Now, you have been clear about the importance and specific methods of filament storage. But before putting them into practice, probably you should first judge whether your filament has been wetted.
    Check the following ten descriptions carefully. If you get 5 or 6 hits, you'd better dry the filaments before storing them.

    1. The filament becomes harder, and easier to break.
    2. Abnormal spots or bubbles on the surface of the filament.
    3. The melting point of the filament becomes higher.
    4. There is steam coming out of the nozzle during printing.
    5. There are crackling and popping sounds when the filament is extruded out (the moisture is boiling and evaporating).
    6. Poorer adhesion of the first layer with the printing parameters unchanged.
    7. The printed lines are not continuous.
    8. Severe stringing or oozing.
    9. Fuzzy or complex textures or small bubbles on the surface of the print.
    10. The nozzle is often clogged.

    _____EN.jpg

    Ways to Dry Filament

    If you have found that the filament has been wetted, then it's time to dry them. As for the drying methods, makers have shown their strange yet effective wisdom.

    1. Use an oven that can heat at low temperatures (e.g., below 50 ℃/122 ℉). Since the actual temperature is not always the same as set, you can put a thermometer inside the oven to measure the heat difference before drying.
      If the filament is heated at temperatures that are higher than recommended, the result could be counterproductive. Therefore, frequent monitoring is also required.
      What's worth noting is that this method cannot be used to dry the filament that might produce toxic substances when heated, which will pollute the interior of the oven. The steps are as follows.

      1. Set the target temperature.
      2. After the preheating, put the filament inside the oven.
      3. Heat the filament for four to six hours (for reference only; depending on the filament types, the quantity, and other factors).

    2. Use a food dehydrator or fruit dryer. The recommended temperature settings are similar to the case of the oven.
    3. Use a pet hair dryer that can heat above 40 ℃/104 ℉. Considering the health of your pet, this method is not suitable for drying filaments that may produce toxic substances, either.
    4. Put the filament on the Heated Bed of your 3D printer, cover it with a box, then set the desired temperature, and leave it heated for about six to eight hours.
    5. Use professional drying equipment, which is safer and more efficient.

    For reference only, here are some recommended drying temperatures for common 3D printing filaments:
    PLA: 40 °C–48 °C (104 ℉–118.4 ℉)
    TPU: 45 °C–55 °C (113 ℉–131 ℉)
    ABS, Nylon: 60 °C–80 ℃ (140 ℉–176 ℉)
    PETG: 60 °C–70 °C (140 ℉–158 ℉)
    PC: 120 °C–130 °C (248 ℉–266 ℉)

    Generally speaking, it is necessary to dry the filament as soon as you find it wetted. The longer it is being wet, the more difficult for you to dry it.

    Besides the moisture, filaments are also susceptible to dust if not stored properly, which is another cause of nozzle jam. Therefore, you should also dedust the filament before printing, like blowing (instead of collecting, because some dust hidden in the filament coil is difficult to be collected up but easy to blow away) it with a dust cleaner, or install a dust-cleaning clip on your 3D printer, ensuring that the filament is dust-free before loaded into the extruder. The following are some cleaning clips designed by makers in TG, go print one and say Bye to the dust!

    Universal Filament Filter and Lubricator
    Snap-on Filament Filter/Oiler
    Universal Filament filter or dust filter

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    We hope this article could be useful for you.
    In the future, Snapmaker Academy will bring you more exciting topics, so STAY TUNED!
    If you are interested in other topics of 3D printing, feel free to contact us at support@snapmaker.com, or leave your message in the community.

     

    Disclaimer

    All the data and methods in this article are for reference only.

    Snapmaker does not assume responsibility for loss, injuries, damage, or expense arising from or in any way connected with the data or methods in this article.

  • Slicing and G Code: The Bridge Between 3D Model and 3D Printer

    Slicing_and_G_Code.jpg

    Hello, Maker!


    In Feed Your 3D Printer: 17 Awesome Websites to Download 3D Models, we’ve introduced to you 17 3D model websites in distinct styles, by way of which you can gain access to abundant 3D resources and take joy in being Maker without modeling by yourself. But there’s still one more step before your 3D printer can cast the zero-to-everything magic: Slicing the 3D model.

    To elaborate on the concept of Slicing, let’s first have a brief look at the rough process of 3D printing.

     

    ____EN.png

     

    As you can see, obtaining the 3D model is just the end of Step ①. For your 3D printer to start printing, you need to import the 3D model into the slicing software (hereafter slicer) and send the slicing outcome — G Code — to the 3D printer.

    So far, you might have wondered a lot: Why is slicing necessary? How does it work? And what is G Code exactly? Keep reading,  and answers are on the way!

     

    What is Slicing

    Essentially, slicing is a translating process.

    The 3D printing model we obtained in Step ① is a three-dimensional graphic file (such as the STL file). Such files contain geometric information, which is composed of triangular faces used to represent the contour shape of the object.


    increasing-resolution.png

     

    However, your 3D printer is a mechanical device, of which the operation requires instruction information on How To Do, rather than geometric information describing What It Is. Therefore, a problem arises: the 3D printer cannot read and understand the geometric information in the model file, and the model file itself does not store instruction information. In this way, there is an information gap between the 3D printing model and the 3D printer.

    Slicing is the bridge over this gap.

    The role it plays is to "translate" the geometric information in the 3D model file into instruction information that can be read and understood by the 3D printer. In addition to the original geometric data, you can also add more auxiliary information (such as adjusting the temperature of the heated bed or nozzle, adding supports, etc.) through the slicer, so that the 3D printer can better build the model.

    We can compare this slicing process to cooking to better explain their relationship.

    With only a picture of a dish (3D model file), no matter how skilled a chef (3D printer) is, it is almost impossible to perfectly restore the taste of the dish in the picture. But if you make a corresponding recipe (generating G Code by slicing), describe in detail all the ingredients, the amount of each, the cooking sequence of this dish, and the special technique for each cooking step, the problem will be solved.

    In addition, if you have some knowledge of the computer numerical control, the relationship among 3D printing models, slicing software, and G Code can also be compared with reference to that among Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), and Computer Numerical Control (CNC).

     

    How Slicing Works

    After roughly explaining the role of slicing, we can take the example of Cura, one of the most powerful slicers, to briefly introduce the working mechanism behind slicing (otherwise known as the Engine), and several key concepts involved.

    CuraEngine mainly goes through the following five steps when slicing a 3D model file.


    CuraEngine_Process_EN.png

     

    Optimizing the 3D model

    When you import the 3D model into Cura, it will be optimized according to Cura's OptimizedModel.

    As mentioned above, the geometric information of the 3D model file is actually a description of the shape and position of the triangles that make up the model. Therefore, the optimization of CuraEngine is to analyze, establish, and store the relationship between these triangular faces, which is officially called the vertex-face relation. Put more clearly, it analyzes which triangles are adjacent.

    For example, suppose you are required to memorize a set of numbers: 8, 10, 12, 20, 25, 30. You can choose to simply memorize it, or you can memorize it based on their relationship: 8, 10, and 12 are respectively four times, five times, and six times as much as 2; 20, 25, and 30 are respectively four times, five times, and six times as much as 5.

    It's easier to memorize, right? Cura thinks so.

    Optimizing the model and establishing the adjacent relation among the triangular facets are the key prerequisites for Cura to quickly slice models and build Layerparts.

    Slicing 3D model into 2D layers

    The main task of CuraEngine in this step is to cross-cut the 3D model into 2D planes (imagine how you slice the cheese).

    Combined with the mechanical structure of the 3D printer, it can be understood as the 3D model is cut layer by layer with a certain Z axis height (layer height) by a 2D plane formed by the X axis and the Y axis. When the 2D plane intersects with the triangular faces that make up the 3D model, the corresponding intersecting lines will be obtained.


    Intersecting_Line.png


    The target of slicing is to get 2D graphics on 2D planes for the printer to print layer by layer. However, the cross-cutting result is just a bunch of lines. How do we know which lines form a closed 2D graphic?

    Here comes the adjacent relation of the triangular faces established in Optimizing the Model.

    If two triangular faces (like A and B) are adjacent and both of them intersect with the same X-Y plane, the intersecting lines (like the red line and the blue line) generated must also be adjacent, which means they can form a closed 2D graphic with other adjacent lines.


    Face-Vertex.png


    Therefore, CuraEngine can quickly identify separate closed 2D graphics. At this point, the 3D model is sliced into 2D layers, and each layer consists of one or more closed 2D graphics.

    Building LayerParts

    In the last step, we've got closed 2D graphics on 2D layers. However, the number of graphics in each layer is not necessarily the same. Separate 2D graphics on a single layer are called LayerParts, which is an essential concept in CuraEngine.

    Quoting an official example of CuraEngine, If you slice a table with four legs, Layer ② has four LayerParts, while Layer ① has only one LayerPart.

     

    LayerParts.png


    In this step, CuraEngine defines separate closed 2D graphics as different LayerParts. In this way, the G Code will be complied in units of LayerPart, removing the redundant information outside the Layerparts as much as possible to improve the printing efficiency.

    Marking areas

    After building LayerParts, CuraEngine marks areas of the LayerPart as Insets, Up/Down Skins Areas, or Sparse Infill Areas and plans respective printing modes.

    For the same LayerPart, the outer line area will be marked as Insets, and the area inside the line will be marked as Up/Down Skins Areas or Sparse Infill Areas. As for the specific parameters (such as outline thickness, infill density, pattern, etc.), you can set them separately in Cura. It should be noted that this step is only to mark different areas and plan corresponding printing modes, but not actual paths. When the G code is compiled in the next step, specific printing paths will be generated in different areas.

    Generating the G Code

    In this step, CuraEngine will collect the geometry and parameter information involved in all the previous steps, and then compile it into G Code to guide the 3D printer to print out the target model.

    As shown below, Cura's official document lists some important bits during this process:

    1. PathOrderOptimizer: As the name implies, the nozzle will select the nearest LayerPart to print when it moves to enhance efficiency.
    2. Infill: Print in the form of lines.
    3. Comb: To avoid stringing, the nozzle will try not to move without printing if there's another path to go.
    4. GCodeExport: The G Code generating process is divided into two steps. First, collect and summarize all the path information of each layer; second, compile and generate the G Code.

     

    How to Read G Code

    As the outcome of slicing, G Code instructs 3D printers to print. Because of its nature as a special programming language, G Code can be as readable as Java or Python. As long as you grasp the basic syntax, it's not difficult to judge the meaning of different G commands.


    G__EN.drawio.png


    G Code can be divided into two types: G-code and M-code.

    G-code (General code) focuses on geometric information, mainly describing instructions like guiding the 3D printer on moving. Seen from the naming, it is obvious that the G-code is the core of G Code (sounds like a tongue-twister).

    M-code (Miscellaneous code) is a non-geometric command used to specify non-geometric parameters such as the heated bed temperature or the fan activation status.

    The number immediately following the letter G or M indicates different actions. For example, G0 instructs the printing module to move quickly, and G28 instructs the printing module back to the home position.

    The remaining parameters generally consist of one or more alphanumeric combinations. Letters usually indicate the object that performs the action, while numbers indicate specific parameters of the action. For instance, the G0 X5 Y20 command instructs the printing module to quickly move to the position where the coordinate is (5, 20) by the movement of the X axis and Y axis. However, not every G command has specific parameters. For example, M84 simply means to disable the motor, in which case no other parameters need to be added later.

    For the meanings of more letters, please refer to the explanation on Wikipedia.

    It's worth noting that 3D printers with different core firmware may have different understandings of the same G command, and therefore perform different actions. For this situation, there are three solutions for reference:

    1. Try to choose the exclusive slicer for your 3D printer if any. For example, Snapmaker Luban is a tailor-made slicer for Snapmaker 3D printers, which will generate the most suitable G commands according to the firmware type of the Snapmaker 3D printer.
    2. If you have to use other slicers, try to find your printer model in the printer settings of the slicer. For example, you can select Snapmaker on the printer list of Cura.
    3. If your printer is not on the list, you can add/create a new printer setting in the slicer and select the correct firmware type. For example, the core firmware used by the Snapmaker 3D printer is Marlin.

     

    Great Slicers

    Based on the reputation, practicality, and price, we recommend six slicers as follows. Whether you are a professional or a newcomer, they are the first choice for most of your slicing needs.

     

    Name Price Supported OS Download Link
    Cura

    Free

    Windows, macOS, Linux

    https://ultimaker.com/en/products/cura-software

    IdeaMaker Free

    Windows, macOS, Linux

    https://www.raise3d.com/pages/ideamaker

    Repetier Free

    Windows, macOS, Linux

    https://www.repetier.com/

    PrusaSlicer Free

    Windows, macOS, Linux

    https://www.prusa3d.com/prusaslicer/

    Simplify3D $150 Windows, macOS

    https://www.simplify3d.com/

    Snapmaker Luban Free Windows, macOS, Linux

    https://snapmaker.com/snapmaker-luban

     

    Common Parameters and Tips

    As known among Makers, no matter how perfect the 3D model file is, there will always be various unexpected problems in the actual printing process. In most cases, nevertheless, these problems can be alleviated or solved by adjusting specific parameters in the slicer. Next, let's talk about some commonly used slicing parameters and related tips.

    Layer Height

    The layer height refers to the vertical distance between layers when slicing. The lower the layer height, the longer the printing time, and the better model details can be printed out. Generally, we want the details, but the choice depends on specific scenarios. If the model does not contain many details or is of practical use, the layer height can be increased appropriately to save time and the filament.

    Outer Wall Thickness

    The thicker the outer wall, the stronger the outer skin of the model, and vice versa. It should be noted that the wall thickness is best set as a multiple of the nozzle diameter. Otherwise, the printing may be compromised. 

     

    __.png

     

    Retraction

    When the 3D printing module travels, the melted filament in the nozzle will ooze downwards due to the gravity, resulting in strings on the print. What you need to solve this problem is Retraction.

    After setting suitable retraction parameters, whenever the 3D printing module travels, the filament will be retracted for a certain distance, thus offsetting the oozing distance. However, if you set inappropriate parameters, it will cause insufficient extruding when the printer continues to print or cause the filament clogging in the nozzle. Therefore, you'd better constantly adjust the settings according to the actual situation to avoid strings without generating other problems.

    Infill Density

    Infill density is generally expressed in the form of a percentage. If it is set as 100%, the target area will be completely filled. However, because the extrusion volume is sometimes unstable, setting an infill density of 100% is likely to cause the model to deform. 15%-30% is enough for most printing cases, which is both economical and time-saving.

    Support

    When the model has overhangs, the support comes on stage. The role of support is to serve as a printing base for the overhanging part. As mentioned earlier, the 3D printer prints layer by layer. Except for the initial layer, each layer is built on the basis of the layer below. If the overhang angle equals or exceeds 90°, nothing under the first layer of the overhang can support its printing. When the overhang angle exceeds 45°, printing problems will easily occur if no support is added. In Snapmaker Luban, in addition to the support position, you can also set the support structure (linear, grid, etc.), density, Z distance, and other support parameters.

     

    __.png

     

    Initial Layer Adhesion

    As the saying goes, well begun is half done. Similar to building houses, a solid and reliable initial layer is crucial for 3D printing. If the adhesion of the initial layer is not so good, it might cause layer shifting or warping. Considering its importance, most slicers support setting separate parameters for the initial layer, such as printing speed, travel speed, layer height, etc.

     

    There is no perfect parameter setting for every maker or every model. Understand the meaning of these parameters and flexibly adjust them in different scenarios to get the best prints——that's what makes us proud of being Maker.

     

    We hope this article could be more or less useful for you.
    Snapmaker Academy will bring you more exciting topics in the future, so stay tuned!
    If you are interested in other topics of 3D printing, feel free to contact us at support@snapmaker.com, or leave your message in the community.

     

    Note: The 3D Printing mentioned in this article refers in particular to Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D Printing.

     

    Disclaimer

    Snapmaker recommends the software to you in no particular order and for resource-sharing purposes only.
    Snapmaker does not in any way endorse, control, or assume responsibility for the content, views hosted on, and services provided by these software.

     

     

     

  • Feed Your 3D Printer: 17 Awesome Websites to Download 3D Models

    Websites_to_Download_3D_Models.jpg

    Hello, Makers!

    We’ve got something good for you, but one question first:

     

    Why do you 3D print?

     

    Maybe you are a craftsman who likes to create novel or useful gadgets.

    Maybe you are an ACG lover who is keen to make garage kids of your favorite characters.

    Maybe you are a designer who wishes to animate your works.

    Maybe you are a mechanical engineer who loves to design customized parts and accessories.

    Maybe you are an educator, a science geek, or a researcher…

    No matter who you are, when you enjoy the sense of achievement and satisfaction that 3D printing has brought you, have you ever wondered what other makers are 3D printing?

     

    In this article, we will introduce to you 17 3D model websites, through which you can get to know what makers all around the world are imagining, making, and enjoying!

     

    General

    General websites usually feature wide and detailed categories, mostly including art, fashion, gadgets, household stuff, hobbies, tools, etc. The complexity of 3D models in the same website could be greatly varied or evenly distributed, so most people can find what they want.

    Thingiverse

    Thingiverse.png

    Model Total 2, 200, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  No Pricing Free

    Bonus:

    1. An education section in which models can be filtered by subjects or grades.
    2. Interest groups with numerous topics yet less activity than before.

    Summary:

    With highly detailed categories and an enormous database, Thingiverse is undoubtedly a heaven for most makers. Just as the name tells, it is a universe full of things that are practical, helpful, beautiful, funny, or weird…

     

    CGTraderCGTrader.png

    Model Total 1, 250, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  Yes Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    1. Blogs about AR or 3D technologies, 3D model trading guides, and community updates.
    2. A freelance platform for customers and designers to facilitate trading and cooperation.
    3. ARsenal, a solution for e-commerce retailers and brands to get 3D visualization for better management, promotion, and business strategies of their goods.

    Summary:

    With three million registered users, CGTrader is more like a free and large-scale 3D model trading market, providing more-than-expected convenience for every role. Through CGTrader, customers can search for existing models or hire designers to get customized service, while designers can promote themselves with high-quality designs and get freelancing or part-time jobs. More than that, customers can even negotiate the model price with its designer or request other file formats. Note that CGTrader has a particular section for printable 3D models, and models in other sections may not always be designed to print out.

     

    PinshapePinshape.png

    Model Total 66, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙 
    Registration Required 

    Yes

    Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    1. An education section that emphasizes more on tutorials other than models, mainly about 3D printing hardware or software using tips, post-processing methods, and printing tricks.
    2. A study section including blogs and guides about 3D printing for newcomers to get started and recommendations of featured models.
    3. A 3D printer section to collect and present community-sourced reviews and 3D printer data for makers to choose the most suitable printer according to their needs.

    Summary:

    Though the poor maintenance (the blogs, tutorials, and guides have not been updated for a long time) of Pinshape in recent years has discouraged many devoted followers, and the community is not so active anymore, its large-scale 3D model repository is still worth your exploration.

     

    Cults

    Cults.png

    Model Total 35, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  Yes Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    1. Blogs with abundant topics, such as classic 3D printing cases for important festivals, Choose & Buy guides for 3D printers, and the latest development of the 3D printing technology.
    2. Online contests on design and 3D printing with attractive prizes.

    Summary:

    Cults has gradually taken shape as a mature and vibrant 3D model website over the years. Not only does it value the interaction with users, but it also has many user-friendly website designs. For example, the model price displayed on the website can be converted between over 20 monetary units, allowing users from different countries and regions to get straighter pricing information; it also provides a Random button to create more opportunities for users to encounter their favorite models.

     

    3DShook3DShook.png

    Model Total 6, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  Yes Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    1. Blogs about 3D printing tricks and classic printing cases.
    2. APPZ, an online creating tool for users to customize their own door sign, phone case, keychain, and many other interesting things with plenty of ready-made templates.

    Summary:

    3DShook features a subscription mode with a stable bimonthly updating pace. Meanwhile, it also supports the purchase of single models and provides a small free trial gallery. The 3D models of 3DShook are exclusive, meaning you cannot find them anywhere else, which might make the customers or subscribers feel their money well-spent. More importantly, all models must pass a strict printing test before they are uploaded and posted.

     

    Libre3DLibre3D.png

    Model Total 1, 300+ Update Frequency 🆙
    Registration Required  No Pricing Free

    Bonus:

    Some 3D models may have a corresponding tutorial (about modeling or printing) attached to their pages.

    Summary:

    Libre3D is a completely free and open-source 3D model website in which users can convert SCAD files to STL files online.

     

    Practical

    Websites under this category often focus on useful 3D models. From 3D printer accessories, mini pool tables, desk lamps, down to special-sized screws, hooks, and keychains, you can find the corresponding 3D models of basically most of the common things you’ve seen in real life.

    YouMagine

    YouMagine.png

    Model Total 18, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  No Pricing Free

    Bonus:

    There are blogs about the 3D printing industry, the development of popular and mainstream 3D printers, website tricks, and community news.

    Summary:

    About a quarter of resources on YouMagine are 3D models of parts and components, some of which can be printed by users to DIY their 3D printers. In addition, users can also modify the model files online through 3D Slash.

     

    RedpahRedpah.png

    Model Total 4, 500+ Update Frequency 🆙
    Registration Required  No (for free files) Pricing Free or Paid

    Summary:

    Most of the 3D models on Redpah must be paid to download, but don't be scared off—nearly 95 percent of the charging models cost less than $5! Most of them are related to household and life scenarios.

     

    RepablesRepables.png

    Model Total 1, 900+ Update Frequency 🆙
    Registration Required  No Pricing Free

    Summary:

    Repables mainly provides 3D models related to mechanical components that are practical in real life. If you are keen to take advantage of the 3D printing technology to make a variety of tools and accessories for real use, you might as well come here for a look.

     

    Artistic

    The websites below are mainly for art lovers. Generally of high quality, most of the 3D models are related to art, garage kits, toys, jewelry, architecture, movie, or games, which can match the artistic preferences of different groups of people.

    MyMiniFactoryMyMiniFactory.png

    Model Total 120, 000+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  No (for free files) Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    1. Blogs with varied topics and exciting content, regularly updated and contributed both by the administrator and the users.
    2. Scan The World, a project that is designed to spread art and culture around the world. Users are encouraged to scan and upload the 3D models of various sculptures and artistic works for free download by other users.

    Summary:

    The 3D models of MyMiniFactory are mainly related to art, games, garage kids, and pop culture. All models must pass a printing test before being released to ensure the model quality. Among them, nearly 30,000 models are made by professional designers. In addition to regular purchasing, users can also obtain high-quality 3D models at preferential prices through crowdfunding.

     

    RIGModels

    RIGModels.png

    Model Total 10, 000+ Update Frequency Unknown
    Registration Required  No (for the first five files) Pricing 30 free files for non-subscribing registered users every day; all free for donated users

    Summary:

    RIGModels features mainly character models, and the file for 3D printing will be specially listed on the download page. Additionally, users can also download the low-polygon version of the model as needed.

     

    Threeding

    Threeding.png

    Model Total 5, 500+ Update Frequency 🆙 🆙
    Registration Required  Yes Pricing Free or Paid

    Summary:

    Several history museums sell 3D models of their exhibits on Threeding, so history enthusiasts may have the chance to get their favorite exhibits home with Threeding and a 3D printer. Beyond that, Threeding considerately provides a Compare button for users to carefully compare the price, file size, file format, and other information of different models.

     

    3DKitbash

    3DKitbash.png

    Model Total 70+ Update Frequency 🆙
    Registration Required Yes Pricing Free or Paid

    Bonus:

    There are blogs about 3D printing technologies, 3D printers, 3D filament, etc.

    Summary:

    On 3DKitbash, you can find attractive 3D models sold by kit, many of which are ball-jointed. These models are usually of high quality, although the overall number of resources is quite small.

     

    Search Engine

    Besides the 3D model websites introduced above, search engines for 3D models are also treasures for makers.

    yeggi

    yeggi.png
    On yeggi, you can search for more than three million free or paid 3D models. Considering that users sometimes do not have a specific search target, yeggi also provides browsing prompts like random and popular to keep your 3D printer always occupied. Run into a model you like but don’t want to download it for now? Just click add to list, and yeggi will collect them for you.

     

    Thangs

    Thangs.png

    What makes Thangs stand out is that it supports geometric search, of which the search speed might be slightly slow, but the results are often full of surprises. Registered users can also upload their favorite models to Thangs for free download by other users or invite others to collaborate on 3D model projects.

     

    3dMdb

    3dMdb.png

    Through the powerful searching system of 3dMdb, you can search for nearly 7.5 million 3D models. To improve the search efficiency, 3dMdb also provides options for more than 30 well-known 3D model websites as filters, so users can directly choose to search for models on one of these websites. In addition, you can also set a price range to achieve quick positioning based on your budget.

     

    STLFinder

    STLFinder.png

    As a well-known search engine for 3D models, STLFinder can be used to search for millions of resources. When you have no target but want to see something new, you could try the hottest search tags in 24 hours provided by STLFinder. However, the user needs to click twice to jump to the source website for downloading, and its filter system seems to be less satisfactory than its counterparts above. Regardless of these minor flaws, it is still one of the preferred search engines for many 3D printing enthusiasts.

     

    Equipped with these websites and their countless resources, you are now one of the “richest” makers! Go find and print your FAVORITE!

    In the future, Snapmaker Academy will continue introducing useful and interesting resources and knowledge about 3D printing, such as mainstream slice software, modeling software, and filament guides, so STAY TUNED!

     

    Disclaimer

    Snapmaker recommends the websites and software to you in no particular order and for resource-sharing purposes only.

    Snapmaker does not in any way endorse, control, or assume responsibility for the content, views hosted on, and services provided by these websites.

  • Snapmaker Academy: How to Print LED Letters with PETG

    Print_LED_Letters_with_PETG.jpg

     PETG is kind of a perfect alternative to either PLA or ABS. It is almost as easy to print as PLA, also durable and reliable as ABS. However, it can be a little demanding on printing skills. This video tutorial will show you how to handle PETG by printing LED letter with it. Have a sneak peek on our tips:

     

    The basics:

    • Printing temperature: 220 °C - 250 °C (keep fine tuning).
    • A 60°C-80°C heated bed temperature recommended.

     

    Solutions to PETG adhesion problems:

    • Add a brim for a better adhesion.
    • Print sticking too much? Use release agent or remove while hot.
    • A textured PEI platform can do a lot.

     

    How to avoid oozing and stringing:

    • More Z offset for PETG.
    • Slightly reducing the "Flow" in Luban.
    • Reduce Initial Layer Line Width as appropriate.
    • Enable "Retraction".
  • Snapmaker Academy: How to 3D Print with ABS Filament

    Print_with_ABS.jpg

    ABS can be trickier to print with than PLA, as it's more demanding on the printer, the environment and printing skills. Here is a short video tutorial of how to print ABS nicely with Snapmaker. Have a quick look below:

     

    The basics:

    • Printing temperature: 210℃-250℃
    • Heated Bed temperature: 80℃-110℃
    • Brim or Raft required
    • Good ventilation required

    How to avoid warping or cracking:

    • Level the bed
    • Use an enclosure
    • Fine-tune the temperature and speed
    • Use 3D printing glue or blue tape
    • Change the G-code to turn off the cooling fan

    How to print ABS overhang or bridge:

    • Lower the print speed & the layer height
    • Use support
    • Use PLA instead if durability and heat resistance are not critical.
  • Snapmaker Academy: How to Edit STL Files with Meshmixer

    Edit_STL_Files_with_Meshmixer.jpg

    Edit-STL-Files-with-Meshmixer.pngCatalog

    Overview

    Tools & Materials

    What You Will Learn

    Sample Files

    Workflow

    Tutorial

    3D Printing

    Remix & Share

    Overview

    Design & Manufacture

    Now that you are reading this guide about 3D Printing, we bet you know the word “STL”.

    STL is short for Stereolithography. It’s a file format created by 3D Systems company who’s known as one of the pioneers in 3D Printing industry. Born in 1987, this “30+ years old” format is still widely used for Prototyping, 3D Printing and CAM. For 3D Printing, STL might be the most commonly used model format.

    02.png

    So, what is STL? To put it simply, STL contains a limited number of triangular facets which describe the surface geometry of a 3D object. Think about a football that is made up with several pentagons or hexagons, an STL file works the same way. One thing that makes STL model different from other common CAD model is that it has no attributes of color, texture, etc.

    As long as you have an STL file downloaded online or shared by others, you can import it into a slicer software and then print it out, making it quite easy to use. But obviously, things would be far more interesting if we can edit an STL file creatively. So, can we? The good news is yes, we can. The better news is we can do it at no cost – with the help of the free Autodesk Meshmixer software.

    In the debut of Snapmaker Academy, we’d like to show you how to customize a Snapmaker Original Egg Capsule Toy, and share some ideas and tricks about editing an STL file.

     

    Tools & Materials

    Tools

    Software

    Material

     

    What You Will Learn

    You are going to learn how to use Meshmixer to:

    • Transform the size, orientation, position and shape of an object;
    • Get a new object by calculating the Boolean difference between 2 or more objects;
    • Add text on an object;
    • Stamp the objects and make sunken patterns by extruding;
    • Separate parts of a model and export them as independent ones.

     

    Sample Files

    Workflow

     

    5 steps are included in the guide: 

    - Make a cuboid that hollows the egg;
    - Hollow the egg;
    - Decorate the surface of the egg;
    - Separate the machine parts;
    - Export models and print.

      

    Tutorial

    Step 1: Make a Cuboid

    1._____.gif

    • Import the egg.stl file.
    • Select Import, and Append the machine.stl file.
    • Hide the egg in the Objects Browser for the convenience of later operation.
    Notes
    • You can choose View - Objects Browser in the menu if the browser is absent.
    • When not satisfied with the operation result, you can undo it with “Ctrl+Z”.


    2.______.gif

    • Select Meshmix -> Primitives on the sidebar, and drag the cuboid to the workspace. Rename the cuboid by double-clicking it in the Objects Browser, if necessary (e.g. cube). 

    3._______.gif

    • Use the mouse and the ViewCube mceclip1.png (on the top right corner) to change the camera, and roughly adjust the size and position of the cube to make it coincide with the machine.
    Notes
    • If the control rods in the cube are absent, select Edit -> Transform on the sidebar to bring them up.
    • Besides dragging with mouse, you can type in numbers in the popup menu to adjust the cube precisely.

    4._______.gif

    • Select the machine in the Objects Browser, and choose Actions -> Set as Target in the menu to turn it translucent.

    5._______.gif

    • Adjust the cube precisely until it encases the machine perfectly. Select Accept when finished.

     

    Step 2: Hollow the Egg

    6.______.gif

    • Choose Actions -> Clear Target to restore the view of the machine.
    • Hide the machine in the Objects Browser.
    • Select the egg and turn it translucent through Actions -> Set as Target.

    7.____.gif

    • Select the cube and choose Edit -> Transform on the sidebar. Rotate and move the cube to the center of the egg.
    Notes
    • For a better printing result, the angles of the cube should not go beyond or get too close to the shell of the egg.
    • Do not overlap the cube with the hinge of the egg, otherwise the printed egg would not work.

    8.______.gif

    • Accept when the cube is in position. Choose Actions -> Clear Target and click on the eye icon to restore the view of the egg.
    • Select the egg in the Objects Browser, hold “Ctrl” key, and check the cube. A menu will pop up at the top left corner.
    Note
    • Do not change the order when selecting the egg and the cube. Egg first, and cube afterwards.

    9.____.gif

    • Select Boolean Difference in the popup menu.
    • Uncheck Preserve Group Borders and Auto-reduce Results to avoid an automatic smoothing for the model which may lead to damage or deformation. Choose accept when finished.

    10.____.gif

    • Turn the egg translucent in the Objects Browser, and check if the egg is properly hollowed.

     

    Step 3: Adding Text

    11.____.gif

    • Restore the view. Select Meshmix -> Letters, and drag a letter onto the egg.

    12.____.gif

    • Use the mouse to adjust the letter. The center of the control button represents position, while the ring is for orientation, and the arrow is for size. When finished, choose Accept.

    13.______.gif

    • Add all the letters needed.

     

    Step 4: Adding Sunken Patterns

    14.____.gif

    • Select Stamp on the sidebar. Left-click the target pattern, and left-click on the egg where you want to draw the pattern, then drag to adjust the size of the pattern.

    15.__.gif

    • Choose Select on the sidebar, double click the pattern(s) that you want to extrude.
    • Choose Edit -> Extrude under Select. Set the offset to make sunken patterns on the surface. Choose Accept when finished.
    Note
    • Do not extrude the patterns excessively otherwise the cavity or the hinge may be damaged.

     

    Step 5: Separate and Lay the Machine Parts

    16.____.gif

    • Hide the egg in the Objects Browser, and show the machine.
    • Click on the machine, and choose Select -> Edit -> Separate on the sidebar.
    Note
    • Some machine parts may be further divided into several pieces. Notice to check all of them before separating.

    17.____.gif

    • Select the machine in the Objects Browser again and continue separating the remaining parts.

    18.____.gif

    • When separation completes, select all the machine parts and choose Analysis -> Layout/Packing on the sidebar for a horizontal alignment.
    • Show the egg and move all the machine parts to a proper place through Edit -> Transform. Accept when finished.

     

    Step 6: Export the Models and Print

    19.________.gif

    • Choose and Export the models one at a time.
    Note
    • To export the models into a single STL file, check the models all at once and choose
    Export. But it will not allow you to adjust solely one part of the model when you are slicing before printing.

     

    The exported STL file can be sliced and printed with Snapmaker Luban software. For detailed instructions, you can refer to Chapter 3.3.1 to Chapter 3.3.3 of the Snapmaker 2.0 machine Quick Start Guide.

     

    3D Printing

    Before Starting, you need to rotate and position the models properly to avoid overhangs. See below:

    03.png

    It’s suggested to use Normal Quality mode in Snapmaker Luban to print.

    04.png

    The printing results using Snapmaker Original are as follows.

    05.jpg

    06.jpg

     

    Remix & Share

    Meshmixer is not the only option for editing STL files. Some tools that you might be more familiar with, let's say, Fusion 360, Recap and Zbrush are worth trying, too. You are welcome to share more useful applications with use if you’ve got some.

    07.png

    Well, what if I don’t want to put a machine into an egg? When you know how to use tools like Meshmixer, it’s up to you.

    We are going to create a topic in Snapmaker Forum for each term of Snapmaker Academy. Why not come and meet other passionate makers to share some brilliant thoughts and designs?

    Topic link: https://forum.snapmaker.com/c/snapmaker-showcase/……

    Oh, and wish you happy making!