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  • 3D Printing Tips and Tricks

  • Elliott

    Member
    June 26, 2021 at 10:53 am

    Use this section to share and discuss tips and tricks about 3D printing!

  • Elliott

    Member
    June 26, 2021 at 11:01 am

    The first one I’m going to post is about slicers!

    The slicer is what takes your 3D object, splits it up into horizontal planes (layers) and converts it into information that the printer will perform (called Gcode).

    Most people use a program called Cura, this program can be quite daunting and personally, I think there are better alternatives out there nowadays. The main one I use is called PrusaSlicer, it has a lot of preset options for many popular printers, not as many as Cura, but it is a lot more capable and easier to approach if you keep it on “Simple” mode.

    Either way, Slicers are a personal taste so have a look through a few and decide, it’s like some people prefer Windows over Macintosh or vice versa, or they are simply indifferent between the two.

    Just know that some tips or tricks I point out might only be specific to PrusaSlicer since it is the program I personally use.

     

    There is also a community-developed version of PrusaSlicer which usually uses an older revision of PrusaSlicer but has a lot of community added features which can definitely be useful such as for calibration. This might come up at a later point.

     

    I’ll leave us with this for now. I’ll be adding more tomorrow and feel free to ask any questions, as always, I am happy to help!

  • 123Toid

    Administrator
    June 26, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    @elliottdesigns 

    I have been using Simplify 3d, which is another good program.  However, it hasn’t been updated as much as other programs.  BUt I still have been happy with it. 

    I know the Ender series comes with Cura, which is why I think a lot of people use it. It’s not my favorite.  I might have to look into prussa slicer.

  • Elliott

    Member
    June 26, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    @123toid Yeah, simplify 3D is definitely an older platform. You’ll find newer slicers have really interesting feautres such as ironing which gives a much smoother top surface. PrusaSlicer has monotonic infills for the bottom and top layers too which gives a more uniform look compared to the normal solid infill pattern. There’s quite a lot of useful settings that in my opinion should be enabled by default in these programs since they do such wonder to the quality of the prints. I’ll probably go over some tomorrow. For now though it’s quite late over here. You might find simplify 3d is enough for your needs Nick, and that’s perfectly ok, just trying to spread the knowledge as you have done for all of us with speaker design 👍

  • Elliott

    Member
    June 27, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Settings to explore in PrusaSlicer:

    #1

    As some of you may know, 3D printers work at different layer heights. A 0.2mm distance between the layers is the most common, 0.25mm is the maximum most would use with a 0.4mm nozzle with 0.05mm being the minimum. The wider the distance between layers the quicker the print is to complete, but also the more noticeable stepping is on flat surfaces such as this:

    Something you might not know, which might be worth noting. Is that layer height also determines how good the bonding is between the layers and therefore how strong the part is, as explored by CNCKitchen in this amazing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbSQvJJjw2Q

    As for the feature I want to show you (related to layer heights), it is called variable layer height and it has been around for a while now, and whilst an amazing feature, there is a fairly new addition to it in PrusaSlicer that I learned about recently.

    First I’ll show you variable layer height in action:


    This is what the stepping looks like without any variable layer height:

    This is what it looks like whilst applying manual layer height changes:

    And this is the difference it made:

    A great improvement, but at what cost? In a large model with lots of curves, manual labour is the cost (we will fix this by implementing the new automatic tool).

    How about longer printing times? Well with the whole part at 0.2mm layer height it would take 2h58m to complete whereas with the manual variable layer height it takes 3h24m. The increase of nearly 30mins may sound like a lot, but compared to printing the whole object at 0.05mm, it really is nothing. It would take a whopping 14h45m!

    Now then, what would we get with the automatic tool? Well firstly it is a lot more accurate since it uses an algorithm depending on the geometry of the part you are printing, so usually the print time ends up being a lot less, but manual work might be useful for certain prints where you need a lot of detail in a specific place that the automatic method doesn’t pick up, which is why I showed that first!

    This is the automated variable layer height panel that comes up in the lower right when you enable variable layer height on the part:

    As you can see, it also has instructions on how to perform the manual tuning of layer height.

    The slider for the Quality/Speed tends to always side more with speed (in my opinion) so I always max it out to quality (1). However feel free to choose what you like best.

    Hit the adaptive button and it does its thing:

    You can then play around with the smoothing option if you want to avoid an obvious change in layer heights when looking at your finished print (blends the layer heights together).

    As you can see, it identified a lot more areas that can be improved with lower layer heights, but as explained with CNCKitchen’s video, too high of a layer height causes poor layer bonding, and the adaptive method uses the maximum layer height of 0.25mm to save time, just bare this in mind when using it, just in case you need strong bonding between layers.

    However, some good does come out of it, even though there are a lot more areas with small layer heights to make sure curves are nice and smooth, we actually save time compared to the manual tuning. Instead of the print taking 30mins longer than standard it only takes 20mins! On such a small print that may not seem much of a difference but with larger volumes (in height) the difference will be much greater!

    I hope this has helped some of you get nicer looking curved prints of your printer!

    Until next time!

  • 123Toid

    Administrator
    June 28, 2021 at 12:52 am

    @elliottdesigns 

    This might be the best write-up on all the internet.  Well done!

  • Elliott

    Member
    June 28, 2021 at 1:47 am

    @123toid haha, thanks Nick. 

  • SteveM

    Member
    November 15, 2021 at 4:16 am

    Elliot, Great write up! As I have some larger prints I’m working on this will come in handy. You wouldn’t happen to have a write up like that for resin printers???

  • SteveM

    Member
    November 15, 2021 at 4:18 am

    @elliottdesigns would you have a link to the community developed version of the Prusa slicer?

  • Elliott

    Member
    November 15, 2021 at 11:11 am

    @smonczka Unfortunately I’m not particularly well versed in resin printers since I don’t have one myself, but if there’s something in particular you need some help with I’ll be happy to try and help.

    As for the superslicer link: https://github.com/supermerill/SuperSlicer

    Then you’ll find the download under releases.

    I’d recommend the latest ‘Stable’ version

     

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