Design for Additive Manufacturing Software that Makes Your 3D Printing Life Easier
An often overlooked, but key enabling aspect of additive manufacturing, is the software suite, workflows, algorithms that allow the user to create, adapt, and manufacture 3D printed parts. The true power of additive can not be fully realized without the software, hardware, and materials working in concert.
One of the main facets of any 3D printing software is the slicing tool path generation that generates the g-code that tells the printer each individual layer to print. With a proper slicing tool built into the software, a user is able to not only visually see each layer, but can also make any adjustments necessary, whether it’s layer height, overhangs, or any other changes to set your part up on the build plate. You can also set up your orientation, how many parts you want to put into a single print, and generate supports where needed.
Another component of software is the user interface on the printer itself. This takes many shapes and forms depending on the type of printer. Visually, the interface should be set up to optimize the user experience. More importantly, it should provide essential information to the user about material level, print status, error notifications, etc. It’s important the interface works in tandem with the printer, alerting users when something needs attention, and stopping a print.
The value in 3D printing is that you can create more economical, faster and sustainable manufacturing processes than traditional manufacturing methods. Without the 3D printing software to put those checks in place, you run the risk of creating inefficiencies and failed prints.
At Fortify, we have a seasoned software team developing applications that further unlock the capabilities of the FLUX ONE printer, while enabling the user through design and user experience. With the introduction of Compass (Fortify’s software platform), a user can easily create and manage build files, optimize for various parameters such as print speed, and share files with other users. These files are then seamlessly transitioned into Fluxhost, the onboard printer controller.
Check out some of the pro-tips below from actual use cases.
1. Pro-Tip: Monitor Prints with a Camera
3D printing software onboard camera
What is it: Through the use of the onboard camera, users can monitor the progress of a print by observing the peeling mechanism from underneath the reservoir.
Why it matters: With traditional bottom-up DLP and SLA printers, it’s difficult to monitor your print as the part is submerged in the reservoir for potentially several hours. Without the ability to closely monitor the process, errors printing in your part can be missed – wasting time and resources.
How to use it: To use this feature, simply touch the Camera button on the right side of the screen to pull up the Camera module. This view can be called upon anytime the printer is in Printing mode.
Use Case: While the print is progressing, turn on the Camera module to observe each layer plunge and peel. You’ll also be able to observe the outline of the layer, which should be an exact replica of the projected image.
2. Pro-Tip: Avoid 3 Common Printing Errors
Fortify’s 3D Printing Software slicer
What is it: Compass can help you avoid these three common printing mistakes:
a. Overlapping parts (slicer preview)
b. Out of bounds parts (slicer red areas)
c. Overhangs and unsupported features
Why it Matters: When preparing a build, it is often useful to fact check the slices (the 2 dimensional images that stack to create a 3 dimensional part) to ensure print success. Things that may not seem obvious from general observation, such as overlapping parts, can cause build failures and lost productivity. Through Compass 3D printing software, we’ve implemented tools to directly point out different failure modes so that they can be addressed pre-print. For example, we highlight both overlapping and out-of-bounds parts so that these can be immediately remedied.
Use Case: One major pain point we’re looking to address is to validate if a part will print and have no unsupported features. Without an easy to use slicing tool, you’re left exporting the files and manually checking each image for unsupported features. Using our slicing tool, you can easily scrolls through the slices of the print to ensure that there are no features that will print unsupported.
3. Pro-Tip: Leave the Guesswork Behind
What is it: Fluxhost (the software interface on Fortify printers) is designed to keep the user from having to worry about guesswork when it comes to reservoir levels, maintenance, and more.
Why it matters: All large pieces of equipment have a handful of wear components that need to be replaced after a certain number of cycles. Much like the filter in your AC unit, many users forget or neglect to perform proper maintenance, which leads to poor results. Proper care of printers leads to successful prints and longer lasting pieces of hardware. Instead of having to refer to a manual (that you’ve probably misplaced or have in some file on your computer) Fluxhost takes the guesswork out for you. Fluxhost has alerts and monitors built in.
How to use it: It’s automatically set up on the Fluxhost platform. Some screen shots below show examples of the alerts and notifications the user will see.
Use Case: On the Flux One system, one parameter that should be monitored is the resin level. When the resin level gets too low, the screen will intelligently alert you to add more resin into the mixer drawer.