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Pitcher

3-D Printing

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A couple of years ago, I inquired of someone whether A:M produced models in a format that could be used with a 3-D printer, and I was given an answer in the affirmative. I wasn't planning to print anything out at that particular time, and did not pursue the details. Now, our library has a 3-D printer, and I was thinking about taking their orientation course and possibly printing one or two of my models. In talking to the lady at the library who deals with this, she said that their printer prints out NEG files. Does A:M produce NEG files or can A:M model files be converted to NEG files? As you see, I still don't know very much about it. If I can 3-D print an A:M model, what would I have to look for in a 3-D printer? What would the printer need to be able to do? (File formats, capacity, etc.)

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Never heard of NEG-files... A:M produces STL, which is a standard 3d printing format.
Maybe NEG is a properitary file format of the specific printer, but in most cases those software should be able to read STLs anyway.

Best regards
*Fuchur*

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NEG doesn't seem to be on the list.

Most 3D printers can take STL or OBJ which A:M does export to. Forum member Pixelplucker has had success with OBJs that I send him for the image contest medals.

Complex objects are tricky to prepare for 3D printing, however.

The course is probably free, right?  You could take it an find out more.

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You will need to "slice" the exported stl files (export your model from a:m as stl). What this does is allows you to define the orientation of the model to be printed, whether or not you need to add support to the model (overhanging parts of the model in the z axis (y axis in a:m) need support or the print breaks). The slicer program (cura ultimaker is a good one and free) then normally will save the file as a gcode file, which is the machine language needed to run the printer. If you have the model of the printer I might be able to steer you in a more/clearer direction.

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Thanks, fae_alba. I didn't see your answer until just now, but you are right on target with the g-code. Right now, I was just beginning to start the process, but I cannot find a way to export a model or choreography file to an .stl file. Do you know how to do that?

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In the model window> RMB>Plugins>Export>STL

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I usually export from the modeling window. If you do it from the chor I think it will only export the selected model. One other suggestion is to break apart your model of it is a complex,one. That will make printing easier. My Canon print was done in a dozen plus different pieces. I have also found that sometimes I have had to exaggerate features in order for them to print nicely. Also note that scaling is oft times an issue with most sliders shifting the decimal as well as the axis (most printers use the z axis as up and down, where that is normally y in a:m.

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What kind of printer are you going to use? SLA, DLP, Polyjet, SLS, FDM? Each type have their advantages and disadvantages with materials available and feature size. In general character models and recently jewelry and dental use resin based SLA (laser based) or DLP (digital linear projector) to expose layers of photo reactive plastic. These types of printers offer the highest detail but the downside is the materials no matter how much the manufacturer claims are not very good for mechanical parts.

SLS (selective laser sintering) will offer real usable parts from nylon to metals that are sometimes direct fused or melted together by a high power laser with a polymer carrier that is later burned off. These offer excellent detail and extremely good mechanical parts but are usually costly.

Polyjets are an inkjet printer that sprays down a photo reactive resin along side a non photo reactive (support) resin and offer descent detail comparable to SLA and DLP but usually have poor edge quality. Their big advantage is the ability to print different material properties on the same part, ie flexible rubbery plastic along with hard plastic to simulate things like tooth brush handles with rubber grips and other products that would typically take additional steps to produce a prototype.

In between the polyjet and fdm is the wax printers used in dental and jewelry that print 2 different waxes, one a high temperature melting point and the support wax a lower temp melting wax that is dissolved out after leaving a highly detailed smooth model. These are usually used for lost wax or investment casting.

Lastly FDM (fusion deposit modeling) that is the most common printer out that uses a spool of plastic usually abs or pla and can be infused with fibers or powders such as bronze. They offer the lowest detail but provide cost effective mechanical parts and are great for gadgets and tooling fixtures.

In the case of the medallions Rob and I worked on I used my sla printer and used the plastic part as a pattern for sand casting. I think we ultimately used obj format because the software I use to generate the g-code had problems with intersecting meshes and stl gave too many errors. Not a fault of AM but more a limitation in what is out there.

After all that good reading, bottom line try obj if the software can import the model and if you have multiple parts that will be assembled then treat them as separate files. 

Autodesk has a program that is free called Meshmixer www.meshmixer.com that has some repair tools and lots of other features such as slicing, support generation. It wouldn't hurt to have to check the files you export out.

 

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Wow! There have been a few more answers in the last few days. I'll have to study these and try to understand them. I still am very new to 3-D printing. The printer the library has is called Ultimaker 2+. I don't know very much about it. The process the library has in place is that we patrons can submit an .stl file, and the librarian applies the slicing program (CURA) and plans the supports, if needed. I submitted an .stl of a model of a sphinx. My .stl was made at 1024. As it so happened, the librarian asked if I had looked at the CURA software, and I took this as a hint that she wanted me to do so. I ran the .stl through CURA and got a g-code file, which she used to size the model and change the orientation before sending the code to the Ultimaker. Everything started well, but about 2 or 3 hours into the 4 hours that the model was expected to require, something went badly. I don't know what, because I wasn't there. She called and told me about it. She tried again, but with similar results. She sent the .stl and g-code files "downtown" to be examined. Then she informed me of what "downtown" responded. They said that the .stl was too large for any of their slicing software to handle successfully. They advised me to redesign so that the .stl file would be much smaller. That's where we are now. I will attach a picture of the model I was trying to print. Perhaps, as suggested above, I need to break the model into pieces. I'll have to consider that. I'll study what you have suggested so far, and if any of this information helps you think of something further, I'll be interested in your ideas.

Sphinx for 3-D Printing0.png

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I started out thinking about printing a winged lion. After I showed the librarian the winged lion and the sphinx, she thought the sphinx would print more easily. I am the first customer to try printing at this library's new facility. We were all hoping for success.

 

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When they say "too large" did they mean in physical dimensions or size of the data in the file?

You might try something exceedingly simple and small to start with like a vase.

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They meant file size. The slicing program was unable to handle an .stl file that was so large. I was interested in printing a character. A vase does not seem worth the effort. I have tried to streamline the model a bit. I was wondering if instead of choosing 1024 on the export tool, I should have chosen a lesser number. I'm not really sure what the numbers mean in terms of the final appearance of the model.

 

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I just tried the plugin again and instead of choosing 1024 polygons per patch, I chose 64 and got an .stl file size of 11 MB rather than 200 MB. I tried 256 and got a file size of 44 MB rather than 200.  I'm going to make another appointment and see if their software can handle the 44 MB file size and see how the printout looks.

 

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By doing a simple object that you know has no faults you can at least confirm that the pipeline works.

 

the numbers are how many polygons the A:M patches are subdivided into.

64 is one patch into 8x8 polygons,

256 is 16x16

1024 is 32x32

Currently there is a problem with 256. It makes bad polygons.

If 256 doesn't work, try 64.

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I've gone as low as 16 without seeing a whole lot of difference in what the printed output looks like. A couple of thoughts on your model. Take a look at the headdress where it comes over the shoulders. Unless you add some "thickness" to those patches by extruding them, it may not print very well. A patch layer gets interpreted as a printed "wall", which will most likely be too thin to remain intact once the supports are removed. Also pay attention to your patch normals. If they are facing inward, they won't print, but will leave gaps.

Inner patches also can sometimes cause mischief, though not as much as normals. There's a lot to learn I know, and if you had your own printer I'd say just start printing and learn as you go. But since you are using the libraries that may not be a good plan. You should fully expect to have problems, from full on broken prints to holes in your prints. It's the nature of the beast. I'd also recommend you use netfabb (https://service.netfabb.com/login.php). You can upload your stl file and it will inspect it and repair any errors if possible. I use it on every print.

Also, if you want a second set of eyes on your model, send it on over to me (the A:M file). I can look at it and give some more focused pointers.

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I tried 256 and 64. The librarian sent me a picture with the 256. It is below. The gray parts are holes. I think the librarian is getting annoyed with this. I'm going to wait a little time before going forward with another .stl.

 

Capture.PNG

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Thanks for letting me know that you can go as low as 16 possibly without affecting the look very much.

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There is definitely something wrong with 256 export. Don't use it.

 

OBJCloseups.PNG

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After trying the 256 export and it not working, I also tried the 64, and I ran it through Cura in the layer mode also. It had the same issues as the 256. robcat2075, I appreciate your suggestion about making something simple and trying that to see if the problem is on our end or their end. They also had a suggestion that I rebuild my model in Tinkercad, because they thought that would work. My general approach is that my main focus in using Animation:Master is making models and creating pictures to illustrate my books or animations of characters in my books. The 3-D modeling was a "nice to do". I spent several days going back and forth with the library and also revising my model to try and make it work for them. When I went through the orientation, problems like I'm having were not mentioned. My concern was to make my model flat to sit on the plate and to not require very many support structures. Basically, I was hoping that with a few small adjustments, my models would print (and that I could become as rich as George Lucas from the marketing rights on my books and movies--Ha Ha). I really don't want to get into redoing my models in another program or spend a lot of time making other models or doing other things to get .stl files from A:M to work in a 3-D printer. If my models are ever in huge demand (ha ha again), I'll look at this issue then or hire someone to make them printable. Maybe, I'll get a later version of A:M and the plug-in will work better. Right now, as I mentioned before, at least to robcat2075, I am using version 18. I'm not a professional animator or artist. I'm just an old retired guy trying to do some art. I enjoyed Shrek so much and watched the short subject bonus feature entitles "The Tech of Shrek" that I thought it would be great to know how to do some 3-D animation at some level. I really appreciate everyone's help with my questions, and I don't want to let anyone down. Maybe someone else with more determination will read the advice given and work out the issues. I'll be glad to see what they learn, and maybe I will be able to print at that time. Thanks again, Everyone!

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I'm sorry it's been such hassle. Don't get all disappointed yet.

I don't think your v18 is the problem right now.

I think trying something very basic and small would be useful to test out their pipeline. Just a little lathed torus or vase, maybe.

If you could post your model sphinx , there are some 3D printing gurus here who might be able to diagnose it.

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Did you check my video tutorial for A:M to 3d printing out?
https://www.patchwork3d.de/am-2-makerware-3d-printing-83-en

Just go with 16... No need to go over that for most designs.
Your model will have a couple of problems with overhangs, etc. very likely anyway.

In short: Do what Robert told you. Start with a simple object and go on from there... there are different things that will make you life harder when 3d printing (it is in most situations not just a click and everything is fine... it just takes a little bit of trial and error at the start till you know what to avoid and what you can do... that is just normal)

Best regards
*Fuchur*

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Pitcher, Don't Give Up! Believe me, it took me a long time just to develop a basic understanding of how an A:M model translates into a 3D printed one. From what I'm seeing from your libraries screen grab you have most likely issues with normals facing inward. That gets interpreted as a whole when sliced. While it is a real pain in the A$$, inspecting each and every patch in your model to make sure normals are facing right will save a lot of grief in the end.

Also, if you really want to see your A:M model in plastic, send me a message with your A:M model attached and I will tackle it this week.

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I just went on a cruise for a week. Now, I'm back. I appreciate all of your input. (I really appreciate all the encouragement also. When I was doing this earlier, the cruise was coming up, and I was trying to get it done before the cruise. As I said before, I thought it would possibly be fun to be able to do this, but it is really a "nice to do". Now I feel like I have more time to pursue it without a time pressure. ) I'll have to try the 16 polygon setting as suggested above by fae_alba and Fuchur, and I might try to adjust my model by attaching the eyeball (minus the inner orbs) to the eye socket. Perhaps the free-floating eyeball is confusing the plug-in or the slicing program. I understand that I have a few small overhangs, and I will know that to do if that becomes the issue, but the giant holes as shown above are a complete mystery to me. All I can think is that the unattached eyeball is causing the problem.

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Could be the problem yes.
If you can share the model, I could have a look at it and see what my slicer says about it.


Best regards
*Fuchur*

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Hi, Fuchur! I've been working on the model to close up any holes such as the eyeballs and the mouth. I can't really understand the Cura Layer View for the slicer because my version 3.6 is different from the version the librarian showed me and the version the librarian referred me to on Youtube . The library has Ultimaker 2+ and that's the software I downloaded. I am attaching the model I've been using. I tried exporting to .stl with 16 polygons per patch, and I used Cura 3.6 to see if there are any holes. I can't really understand what I'm seeing.  Thanks for your help!

 

Sphinx newb.mdl

Sphinx newb 16.STL

Sphinx g-code Cura screen layer view 16 polygons.png

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I took a quick look and, indeed, there are patches with normals not facing out.


Tools to help you fix that...

Shift 1 will toggle Show Normals ON/OFF

f will flip the Normal of a selected patches

Shift 6 will toggle Show Back-Facing Normals ON/OFF to make backward patches easier to spot.

Shift p will turn on "Patch Group Mode" which lets you just click on the middle of a patch to select it, without having to select all the CPs.

 

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It is definitely wrong facing normals. I took your model and exported to stl then brought into MeshMixer (yet another free app, but a nice one becuase it can analyze and identify problems with a mesh).

Your A:M model looks like this

snip1.PNG

Note the normals facing the wrong way on the shoulder.

In mesh mixer it looks like this:

meshmix1.PNG

Now, back in A:M I flip some normals on the shoulder and leg 

snip2.PNG

And check again in meshmixer

meshmix2.PNG

Having the eyeballs free floating isn't really an issue with 3d printing, and has its uses (we can model a gearbox with multiple moving parts in one model and print all at once if we want) but of you model the eye and socket too close they will be merged(printed) together simply because the tolerance of the print nozzle is larger than your gap.

Once the normals are set right, the only real issue I see with your model will be the snake on the headdress. It is small, and the printer will need support printed or it will break. It being so thin, once printed removing the support could very well break it off as well. I usually print things like that as a separate model and super glue it on after the fact.

Fix your normals, and you will be off to the races!

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I'll see into this later, but what I can see here is a couple of pretty big overhangs here... I'll see if we can get rid of them, but that would be a pretty big problem maybe...

Best regards
*Fuchur*

sphinx_overhangs.png

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robcat2075, Thanks for the video. It was great! You are much faster at turning those normals than I was. I worked on it for two or three hours and didn't do much more than you did in the few minutes on the video. You gave me some good tips on how to do it. I also appreciate your idea on continuing the splines and not using so many hooks.

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I turned around the Normals. I made a new .stl at 16. I made a new g-code in Ultimaker Cura. I'm still getting strange results. The model, the .stl, and a picture of the Cura prepared model is attached. The picture looks like there are holes toward the bottom of the model, and the face looks missing.

Sphinx newb 16.png

Sphinx newb.mdl

Sphinx newb 16.STL

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fae_alba, Thanks for answering. You all three are coming to the same general conclusion. I have fixed the Normals, but there seems to be something else happening also. In addition, I will have to consider the snake on the headdress. I may have to do that some other way, as you suggested.

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Fuchur, I watched the video of your tutorial.  I should have watched that first. It would have answered several questions that I posed later. I'm still have some difficulty that I cannot put my finger on. The Normals are all turned the right direction at this time, but the picture of the layer view for Ultimaker Cura still shows holes.

 

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There are still flipped patches.  I see some problem at the top of the headdress where it all converges also.

 

I think it might be good to make the headdress a separate mesh from the body. It would be easier to diagnose what is in and out if they were separate.

 

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One thing I've used to find normals that are flipped is to apply the Porcelain material. It will give you black areas where there are conflicts with the normals. 

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Thanks for the analysis and the suggestions. Sorry that the model is so confused. It started out as a cat that was upright. I took off the cat head and gave it a human head. Then I tried to sit it down. Then I tried to make it flat on the bottom, because our orientation for 3-D printing emphasized getting the bottom as flat as possible. I'll work on the model and simplify it as much as I can and will try to get everything that could possibly be a wrong turned Normal set right. Then, I'll try again with the .stl.

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There are quite a lot of flipped normals in the model and there are a little bit strange connections like for instance at the eyeballs, where you connected the eyeball with the lid around it...
Keep in mind: Everything you want to print needs to have a volume! 3d objects in real life are closed objects.
I see a lot of open parts there especially around the head mask.

I started fixing somet stuff, but there are a lot of things going on. I attached the STL I created from A:M and a repaired one from netfaab (better, but still not perfect)

I did a little bit of problem solving and even so it is not perfect yet, it printed well enough on my makerbot now... still: You should really already when modelling make sure your normals are right and think about the printing process even when modelling.

I suggest to get netfabb Basic (you can still get a free version of it: https://github.com/3DprintFIT/netfabb-basic-download/releases) and have a look at that... all the red parts are going to be troublesome.

Best regards
*Fuchur*

stl_view.JPG

Sphinx newb_edit.mdl

Sphinx newb (repariert) (repariert).stl

Sphinx newb.STL

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Here is a very small printed version of the file with a low resolution.

You can see that there are a couple of overhang problems there (where there are loops at the nose or the mask on the bottom), but it seems to be printable around the eyes and so on.

Best regards
*Fuchur*

WP_20190305_00_44_31_Rich.jpg

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Isn't there software that will figure out additional supports automatically?  There is no way to model or turn a sphinx shape so there are no over hangs.

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Fuchur,

Thanks for showing that the model can be printed in some form. Thanks also for the suggestions. 3-D Printing for me was an afterthought. I wanted to see if my models could be printed. It was sort of a passive interest. Once I started it, however, it has been very interesting. Even though it probably would have been better to start with a vase or something like robcat2075 and you recommended in your tutorial, at least this way I know how hard it would be to print my models that I already constructed in a sort of undisciplined way. I'm still working on the model. A short time ago, I ran it through Cura again and it looked solid at the bottom and at the head, but it was a hole at the middle. I went back and fixed all of the connections robcat identified in his video above, and I have been all over the model several times trying to get all of the wrong way Normals fixed. I'm probably going to put back the regular eyeballs since there was no real issue with them. I'll be interested in seeing what repairs you made to the model. There's a lot I have to learn from you and all those who have been so generous in giving me pointers. Thanks again!

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9 hours ago, robcat2075 said:

Isn't there software that will figure out additional supports automatically?  There is no way to model or turn a sphinx shape so there are no over hangs.

any slicer will do that in general but supports of the same material interfere with the smoothness of the material and need much more work than without. The easy fix is to create not 90 degree overhangs (or even more) but for instance 60 degrees (those are printable without supports) or u just split the model into pieces and put them together afterwards.

Best regards
*Fuchur*

 

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16 minutes ago, Fuchur said:

any slicer will do that in general but support of the same material interfere with the smoothness of the material and need much more work than without.

It can't be any worse than those loops hanging off his face.

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Of cause (depending on what we are talking about => be aware this is a pretty small size you are seeing there and I would need to see what happens if it is a bigger size) supports can be fine, but they will always leave a mark when you break them off and using something like sand paper to get the mark away changes the appereance of the material so you would have to do it everywhere on the whole model (and it will loose its shinyness then)... you can paint it afterwards but it is all a lot of work to do everything nice and perfectly well like that... you can spend all that time for that.

Or you could avoid all of that by cutting through the head, printing it turned around by 90 degrees and then glue the front and back together for instance.
It highly depends on what you are willing to do.

If you want to learn more about it:
- https://www.patchwork3d.de/blog-5-en/replicator-2-and-replicator-2x-513
- https://www.patchwork3d.de/blog-5-en/xmas-2014-630
- https://www.patchwork3d.de/blog-5-en/abs-u-pva-print-on-my-makerbot-replicator-2x-514
- https://www.patchwork3d.de/blog-5-en/makerbot-replicator-2-wood-filament-print-489
- https://www.patchwork3d.de/blog-5-en/the-small-guide-for-accessories-for-3d-printers-419

My blog is full of stuff around overhangs and how to avoid them (changing the model, printing in different orientations, cutting through, using supports, using disolveable support materials, etc.) or how to work with them, but in general: The less overhangs and supports you can get away with the better is the only real good solution for all that.

The other one is using a powder-based printer... but those are a real mess and cost a fortune...

Best regards
*Fuchur*

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I have continued to work on my model and to eliminate the various garbage on the inside of it. Since I started with a standing cat and human head that I combined. I still had a lot of leg, more or less bent inside the torso of the model and since I extruded the hair to make the headdress, I had the back of the head inside the headdress. Apparently, the material inside the model interferes with the slicer which is trying to also fill the model with "honeycombs". By eliminating all extraneous extra inside the model, the slicer software seemed to work better. I am attaching the picture from the Cura slicing software, the model file, and the .stl so that you can compare it to earlier versions, if you are so inclined. I also note that sometimes flipping a Normal does not work forever. There was one patch in the face that I had to flip at least three times. I am not sure why the Normal would not stay flipped. Thanks to everyone who participated and helped me. Sorry that my model was so troublesome. I originally created it as part of the setting for when my pig characters went to Egypt. I did not think of it as a major piece, but I selected it for 3-D printing as similar to a character model that was posed in such a way that there would be few overhangs. (Silly me! I thought overhangs would be the major issue.) I read the conversation between robcat2075 and Fuchur above (about overhangs), and I probably should make the bottom of the nose at 60 degrees. I'm going to see what the Cura program does with the support first. I've seen some samples of where supports were removed after printing, and the surface was just disturbed slightly. I'm thinking that under the nose, the surface will not show much anyway. If it is a major problem, I'll make the change in the nose.

Sphinx new f 64.png

Sphinx new f.STL

Sphinx new f.mdl

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What I can see too is, that this will not stick very well to the build plate... please have a look at the image here.
You need to make that straight. I just tried it to print it larger and it did not stick because of that. It has to have a straight bottom.

Best regards
*Fuchur*

make_it_straight.JPG

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Thanks. I had already tried to make the bottom flat and had disconnected and reconnected many splines, but I was reluctant to do them all because I did not want to lose all the curves from the bottom of the side.  Actually, when I disconnected some of the splines, I had a hard time finding where I was supposed to reconnect them. That's how the model became so weird where robcat2075 was showing when he moved the leg of the model. I had reconnected to the wrong place. When the librarian tried to print the initial model the first time, she added a brim to take care of the remaining splines that were not behaving. I appreciate your making a corrected copy of the model, and I downloaded it and looked at it. I always stay with the model I've made, however, because I don't want to just have you do the work for me. I take the concept you shared and apply it to my own model. In this case, I did flatten many of the splines, but others I just raised a little so that the curve would not go below the plane.  To summarize what I learned from this experience: 1. Flip the normals (Shift 1, Shift 6, and Shift P are important in doing this); 2. Make the bottom flat; 3. Clean out the inside as much as possible 4. Learn how to operate the slicer software, and look at the model in "Layer view"; 5. The .stl file will work fine at resolutions 64 or 16 polygons per patch usually; 6. 3-D Printing is not something that is very user friendly right now (Everything has to be "just so").

 

 

Sphinx new f1.mdl

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Intersecting objects and objects that are not closed are always problems for 3d printers. The FDM and SLA printers use tool paths and literally draw each objects outline and then do a fill. Having a shape that intersects with another can cause a hollow or void in some slicing software, other oddities is when surfaces just touch causing co-planer faces (seen in games that flicker) will cause iterations across a surface until they hit an edge. In these cases where it isn't practical to make a single mesh all booleaned together then name each mesh body and export out an obj.

Hash does export out meshes in their world space so it is possible to Boolean them together in another program. If meshmixer isn't cutting it you can try to snag a copy of Hexagon that Daz is giving away now for free.

OR if you want toss the file over and I can try running it through my Formz Pro and see if I can fix it.

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pixelplucker, you seem to understand all of this at the nuts and bolts level. Your explanation really helps me to better understand what is happening and why. I am basically an application user who has gained whatever knowledge I have of computers through many years of using them. Thanks for the information about what is happening and for the ideas about other software. The Ultimaker Cura software has seemed at times to be very finicky to me. I have downloaded the free software Fuchur recommended, and I will try to find the Hexagon software also. With my level of understanding, one of my main approaches is to try several kinds of software and try to make adjustments to various items until something seems to work. For 3-D printing, I have very few tools at my disposal right now.

 

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