Author Topic: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer  (Read 13132 times)

Steve_C

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Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« on: April 18, 2014, 02:18:54 AM »
A couple of pics of my latest Replicator2 print.


Suffice it to say; without Meshmixer, this piece would likely not have materialized - or if it had, I'm certain it would have taken me much, much longer; had more failures due to mesh issues, or been way less detailed due to lots more support material being generated around the fine detail stuff...

Thanks to RMS yet again for the effort put into Meshmixer!!

You're a legend!!

RMS

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Re: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2014, 11:58:51 AM »
wow that is a great-looking print! Glad that meshmixer could help =)
created meshmixer - now starting gradientspace - meshmixer consulting available http://www.gradientspace.com/consulting

dmol

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Re: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2014, 04:53:39 AM »

It looks great indeed!

What printer did you use for that? How long did it take? Would you mind sharing the settings you used?  ??? :)

Steve_C

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Re: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2014, 12:19:16 AM »
Sorry I haven't replied before now...  I've been somewhat busy.  I've attached some pics of the much larger version of the "Sorceress" I've now produced (on a different base), as well as the finished smaller version.  Both have 'faux' marble painted sections the cold painted and patinated bronze figure and cauldron stand on.

Once the supports (mainly on the Sorceress figure rather than on the cauldron or plinths) were removed - much easier and with less need for any surface filling using Meshmixer BTW!!; I used a dremel tool and medium grit sandpaper to remove any lines that were too apparent from the 3D print extrusion process (the printer I own uses PLA so no 'acetone vapour smoothing' as used only on ABS plastic could be applied) prior to painting the individual pieces with bronze paint, before patinating. At least 4 coats of bronze paint were applied to each piece that would be bronze finished, and polished with superfine (oooo grade) steel wool between each quite thickly applied coat, before applying the patina, or faux marble finsh in the case of the base/plinth.   

I then used Plastruct plastic cement to bond any items that needed joining/positioning for the finished piece in to their relevant position.

The small sculpture was printed in three pieces - the figure, the cauldron and the base/plinth; while the large sculpture was printed in five pieces - the upper torso with arms, head and hair: the lower torso and legs: the cauldron: the top of the base/plinth and finally the base of the plinth. 

All items on the larger sculpture that were to be joined/glued to form the larger finished item, required 'lugs' in the 3D files that would be printed to allow for correct alignment and positioning. Meshmixer proved invaluable for this - the boolean tools especially so!!!


The printer I used dmol, is a Makerbot Replicator2 (not the new model with the magnetically attached extruder; but a late model Rep2 with the improved extruder design) with a glass build plate rather than the standard acrylic build plate. 

The Makerbot Replicator uses it's own 'slicer' and printer driver software called Makerware.  All of the info I provide below relates to the items being 'sent' from Meshmixer into Makerware straight from Meshmixer's print component having set Meshmixer's printer option to the Replicator2 from the list of printers within Meshmixer.

I printed using PLA white at a temperature of 210C (rather than the default 230C which causes 'stringing' of PLA over larger builds or when the extruder must span larger distances between actual build areas) at the printers "medium" setting of 0.2mm per layer.  I printed at 0.2mm because the improved resolution that printing at the printer's finer 0.1mm setting would give is offset by the massive increase in time it would have taken to print such complex items.  Besides, the difference between 0.1mm  finish quality and 0.2mm quality is not great enough to warrant the extra time taken as well as the risk of losing a print just before it's about to finish if the extruder gets blocked or some other issue causes a print fail!

Given most of the pieces used up the majority of the build area, the time taken to print each item ended up being approx. 12-13hrs, though the cauldron was the quickest to print at around the 8hr mark.   The wall thickness was 2 and the infill settings were set to 30% to try and reduce plastic usage while keeping the internal strength of each item up.  I didn't make any change to the printer's speed setting of 90mm/s or 150mm/s while travelling as they're fast enough and any slower might have improved the surface finish (maybe), but the overall build time would have ballooned incredibly; and given it ends up being essential you stick around while the printer prints things like this; the less time it takes to print, the more time you've got for other things in your life!!!

The options for 'rafts' was left on, while the printer's 'supports' option was always off; given I was using Meskmixer's custom supports.

Once everything was set I used the "Export to a File" option within Makerware... Then I carefully checked the result of Makerware's slicer (you can zoom in to look closely at how the slicer figures the layers will be laid down and how long the build will take and how much plastic will be used in Makerware!), and if you don't like it, you just 'cancel' and go back to the main program pane... turn your model on the build platform a bit (or a lot) and re-slice it to see whether that lays down the layers more to your liking!  Once everything looks good in the slicer, you click the "Export" button and you can them name the resulting file  before copying it from the directory where you've saved it (back-ups of files on external hard drives prevent pulling out of hair if the file ends up disappearing or corrupted!!) onto a SD card that then gets inserted into the printer's SD card slot, and once the printer is turned on; you can select off the list of files on the SD card to build from; and as long as the build plate is level and prepared with 'painters tape' plus some 'extra hold hairspray', and you've applied a drop of canola oil onto a 'Chux' type absorbent cloth which you've wrapped around the plastic filament as it comes off the roll just so a little bit of oil can lubricate the filament and help disperse the heat from the hot end onto the melted plastic more evenly than it would without the little bit of canola oil (hence reducing the chance of 'stringing' ), you can press "OK" on the printer's controller switch prior to watching like a hawk as the print head heats up, lays down the first bead of plastic and commences putting down the raft layer...  If the raft layer goes down OK without any 'lifting' you take relax a little! 

The real heart rate exerciser comes towards the last stages of printing or when the custom supports get high enough that they might just topple over if you haven't designed them right in Meshmixer, or the extruder head causes some 'backlash' and hence wobble of the build plate as it moves from one bit of say a hand across to the other hand, and "whack" the arm on one side gets moved enough that the plastic is now being extruded into space... You've either lost the build, in which case you hit "cancel build" on the printer's controller switch, or pause in the hope that you might just be able to resurrect it somehow - like with some carefully and accurately applied tape that'll hold the item/support that's been knocked in position for just long enough that the plastic will eventually support itself once enough has been built up.

If all goes well, you'll hear the cheery short but sweet "build is finished" tune out of the printer, and you'll be able to remove the build plate with the model on it. Once removed, you can use an artist's style palette knife or even a carving knife to begin the process of very carefully and gradually separating the model from the build plate.

Once separated, the supports and raft can be removed; usually with the assistance of pliers, needle nose being the preferred variety... The rest from there is up to how personal preference dictates as far as level of finish is concerned. 

Hope what I've written isn't too confusing, while being complete enough a picture of the process.

Now it's time for me to get stuck into making an even bigger sculpture!!

Have a Good one!!!

Philo

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Re: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2014, 03:17:09 AM »
Thanks a lot for story and tip! final result is awesome...
Philo

RMS

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Re: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2014, 10:50:30 PM »
amazing!! I enjoyed your description of the printing process. Have you found that the oil on the filament makes a big difference? I have never tried it.
created meshmixer - now starting gradientspace - meshmixer consulting available http://www.gradientspace.com/consulting

Steve_C

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Re: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2014, 01:06:17 AM »
"Have you found that the oil on the filament makes a big difference?"

More than just a "big difference" - using it turned prints that could be considered 'fails' into 100% successes!!

Mind you - it's only a teensie weensie bit of oil. Some people appear to read the advice and then saturate their filament in oil!!  Yikes!!!! 

And not just that! Some people fail to read that the advice is specifically for certain sorts of printers - yet they go ahead and do something simply because they read "I've had success doing blah-blah-blah" on a printer that uses totally different filament types or build platform or even extrusion/layer construction processes.

The "golden rule" - don't do anything until you're 1,000 million gazillion percent certain that you're going to do what's right for your  particular situation/setup/etc.

I use just a few drops on a 'chux' type absorbent cloth (you don't want to use a cloth that could leave fluff or lint on the filament!!) that I wrap around the filament that's leaving the spool on the back of my Rep2 before it enters the guide tube and secure the cloth around a quite heavy rod of aluminium I had on hand with a clothes peg...

This seems to work great because the aluminium rod won't fall over as the filament is wound off the roll, even though it sways and wobbles - and the cloth with the drops of oil on it stays at the same tension so just a smear of oil ends up on the filament as it is wiped past the very, very, very lightly canola oil coated part of the chux cloth.

Before using the oil, some print jobs developed quite appalling 'spider-webbing' and even some "air-printing". 

Some previous "air-printing" issues were mesh caused and solved with Meshmixer; however it was apparent that some 'spider-webbing' and 'air-printing' issues were related to heat at the extruder nozzle tip and 'flow' qualities of the PLA.  Using the canola oil (at the lower extruder temperature as well!!) eliminated ALL spider-webbing,  though a little bit (no-where near as much as previously though) of stringing was still evident. 

Stringing is easier to remove though because it's thicker than the 'spider-webbing' so it breaks away from the build a lot easier - making a little bit of stringing a lot more liveable with than seeing heaps of 'spider-webbing'!

BTW; if you can clearly smell the canola oil during a print, or see little brown 'pimples' or 'zits' on the extrusion as it's being built, you've very likely used too much oil.  Sure; you'll get a bit of a whiff off the oil as it's heated, but it shouldn't be 'overwhelming' or so downright noticeable that you wonder whether you've overdone it... because it's likely that you have overdone it!  Just enough oil to lubricate the filament for it's passage through the guide tube; and allow the heat in the hot end to dissipate just a tiny little bit before the filament is forced through the extruder tip and cooled by the cooling fan... and "Voila!!" - you've got much better print quality and detail with much less post print effort needed to end up with a great finished product.

An added benefit of the lower temperatures, is that 'rafts' are much easier to remove and less likely to damage the parts of a print they're attached to!

Bottom line - I've discovered that there is no single solution to achieving the perfect 3D print! 

It's a whole combination of things!  And that combination is software, hardware as well as user generated solutions.

I doubt there's any 3D printer that has just worked "out of the box" and continued to work that way!!  And it's a fast evolving landscape - with Meshmixer well and truly an integral part of that fast evolving landscape... so: thanks RMS yet again for your efforts with Meshmixer!!

Have a good one!

printer-dtg

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Re: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2014, 03:15:33 AM »
Sorry I haven't replied before now...  I've been somewhat busy.  I've attached some pics of the much larger version of the "Sorceress" I've now produced (on a different base), as well as the finished smaller version.  Both have 'faux' marble painted sections the cold painted and patinated bronze figure and cauldron stand on.

Once the supports (mainly on the Sorceress figure rather than on the cauldron or plinths) were removed - much easier and with less need for any surface filling using Meshmixer BTW!!; I used a dremel tool and medium grit sandpaper to remove any lines that were too apparent from the 3D print extrusion process (the printer I own uses PLA so no 'acetone vapour smoothing' as used only on ABS plastic could be applied) prior to painting the individual pieces with bronze paint, before patinating. At least 4 coats of bronze paint were applied to each piece that would be bronze finished, and polished with superfine (oooo grade) steel wool between each quite thickly applied coat, before applying the patina, or faux marble finsh in the case of the base/plinth.   

I then used Plastruct plastic cement to bond any items that needed joining/positioning for the finished piece in to their relevant position.

The small sculpture was printed in three pieces - the figure, the cauldron and the base/plinth; while the large sculpture was printed in five pieces - the upper torso with arms, head and hair: the lower torso and legs: the cauldron: the top of the base/plinth and finally the base of the plinth. 

All items on the larger sculpture that were to be joined/glued to form the larger finished item, required 'lugs' in the 3D files that would be printed to allow for correct alignment and positioning. Meshmixer proved invaluable for this - the boolean tools especially so!!!


The printer I used dmol, is a Makerbot Replicator2 (not the new model with the magnetically attached extruder; but a late model Rep2 with the improved extruder design) with a glass build plate rather than the standard acrylic build plate. 

The Makerbot Replicator uses it's own 'slicer' and printer driver software called Makerware.  All of the info I provide below relates to the items being 'sent' from Meshmixer into Makerware straight from Meshmixer's print component having set Meshmixer's printer option to the Replicator2 from the list of printers within Meshmixer.

I printed using PLA white at a temperature of 210C (rather than the default 230C which causes 'stringing' of PLA over larger builds or when the extruder must span larger distances between actual build areas) at the printers "medium" setting of 0.2mm per layer.  I printed at 0.2mm because the improved resolution that printing at the printer's finer 0.1mm setting would give is offset by the massive increase in time it would have taken to print such complex items.  Besides, the difference between 0.1mm  finish quality and 0.2mm quality is not great enough to warrant the extra time taken as well as the risk of losing a print just before it's about to finish if the extruder gets blocked or some other issue causes a print fail!

Given most of the pieces used up the majority of the build area, the time taken to print each item ended up being approx. 12-13hrs, though the cauldron was the quickest to print at around the 8hr mark.   The wall thickness was 2 and the infill settings were set to 30% to try and reduce plastic usage while keeping the internal strength of each item up.  I didn't make any change to the printer's speed setting of 90mm/s or 150mm/s while travelling as they're fast enough and any slower might have improved the surface finish (maybe), but the overall build time would have ballooned incredibly; and given it ends up being essential you stick around while the printer prints things like this; the less time it takes to print, the more time you've got for other things in your life!!!

The options for 'rafts' was left on, while the printer's 'supports' option was always off; given I was using Meskmixer's custom supports.

Once everything was set I used the "Export to a File" option within Makerware... Then I carefully checked the result of Makerware's slicer (you can zoom in to look closely at how the slicer figures the layers will be laid down and how long the build will take and how much plastic will be used in Makerware!), and if you don't like it, you just 'cancel' and go back to the main program pane... turn your model on the build platform a bit (or a lot) and re-slice it to see whether that lays down the layers more to your liking!  Once everything looks good in the slicer, you click the "Export" button and you can them name the resulting file  before copying it from the directory where you've saved it (back-ups of files on external hard drives prevent pulling out of hair if the file ends up disappearing or corrupted!!) onto a SD card that then gets inserted into the printer's SD card slot, and once the printer is turned on; you can select off the list of files on the SD card to build from; and as long as the build plate is level and prepared with 'painters tape' plus some 'extra hold hairspray', and you've applied a drop of canola oil onto a 'Chux' type absorbent cloth which you've wrapped around the plastic filament as it comes off the roll just so a little bit of oil can lubricate the filament and help disperse the heat from the hot end onto the melted plastic more evenly than it would without the little bit of canola oil (hence reducing the chance of 'stringing' ), you can press "OK" on the printer's controller switch prior to watching like a hawk as the print head heats up, lays down the first bead of plastic and commences putting down the raft layer...  If the raft layer goes down OK without any 'lifting' you take relax a little! 

The real heart rate exerciser comes towards the last stages of printing or when the custom supports get high enough that they might just topple over if you haven't designed them right in Meshmixer, or the extruder head causes some 'backlash' and hence wobble of the build plate as it moves from one bit of say a hand across to the other hand, and "whack" the arm on one side gets moved enough that the plastic is now being extruded into space... You've either lost the build, in which case you hit "cancel build" on the printer's controller switch, or pause in the hope that you might just be able to resurrect it somehow - like with some carefully and accurately applied tape that'll hold the item/support that's been knocked in position for just long enough that the plastic will eventually support itself once enough has been built up.

If all goes well, you'll hear the cheery short but sweet "build is finished" tune out of the printer, and you'll be able to remove the build plate with the model on it. Once removed, you can use an artist's style palette knife or even a carving knife to begin the process of very carefully and gradually separating the model from the build plate.

Once separated, the supports and raft can be removed; usually with the assistance of pliers, needle nose being the preferred variety... The rest from there is up to how personal preference dictates as far as level of finish is concerned. 

Hope what I've written isn't too confusing, while being complete enough a picture of the process.

Now it's time for me to get stuck into making an even bigger sculpture!!

Have a Good one!!!
A big THANKS steve for the explanations, it's very nice indeed.

tanventure

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Re: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2014, 02:15:21 AM »
>The small sculpture was printed in three pieces - the figure, the cauldron and the base/plinth; while the large sculpture was printed in five pieces - the upper torso with arms, head and hair: the >lower torso and legs: the cauldron: the top of the base/plinth and finally the base of the plinth.

>All items on the larger sculpture that were to be joined/glued to form the larger finished item, required 'lugs' in the 3D files that would be printed to allow for correct alignment and positioning. >Meshmixer proved invaluable for this - the boolean tools especially so!!!

The printed sculpture looks great! I wonder if you could share how the models were generated? with 3D scanner? and how long did it take to make the 3D models, I mean, from 3D scanning to 3D models generated.

Thanks

Steve_C

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Re: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2014, 08:12:55 PM »
The sculptures look better in reality than they do in the photos, so if they look great to you in the in the pics @tanventure; I'm more than happy!!

NO 3D scanning at all used for the design/creation of these pieces, even though I've got a Microsoft Kinect, and have used 123D Catch for some things... I've found that the results of both the Kinect scans or 123D Catch generated from photos geometry, need as much if not more time and effort in cleaning them up, as using computer generated characters to adjust via sculpting/posing/detailing.

The figurative (human) parts of these sculptures were generated mainly in 'Makehuman'.  Most of the adjustments/refinements were made using Lightwave3D and Meshmixer.

The pedestals were totally created in Lightwave3D, then prepared/sliced etc. in Meshmixer.

How long did the figures take?  Months!!  Though I must say, that a lot of time was spent in "sucking and seeing", before finding the appropriate methodology for achieving the desired result, so the "months" figure might actually only be "weeks" if I account for the tests/time spent on things that didn't end up working, the odd 'hang/crash' where the millions of polys being processed at times was more than my i-7 with 8Gig could cope with, or just generally refining the process.

The pedestal bases didn't take as long, but they were surprisingly more difficult than the figures when it came to 'slicing' for printing, mainly because separating the figure into parts can be done on major points of the figure, while the pedestal bases need slicing in ways that keep any seams created much less obvious so any sanding of the seam is kept to a minimum while retaining strength of the glue join.

And... in the back of my mind while creating the 3D geometry, was the "how do I minimise print time and material use, while optimising strength and retaining detail". 

Given there aren't any textbooks on any that sort of info that I could reference, some time also inevitably went into solving those sorts of considerations.

science_desk

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Re: Latest print - done with the help of Meshmixer
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2016, 03:10:28 PM »
bumb from forever ago, but to the OP, what sort of settings did you use for meshmixer supports?  We've got one of the old-style Replicator 2's as well, but whenever we try meshmixer supports on a model, the printer ends up jamming..  Doesn't happen with makerware's own supports, just meshmixer.  I may just have to start a new thread as this one is from a while ago, just thought I'd ask first.

Thanks for any help/info.