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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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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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