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isphording90

Intelligent Support Material

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Hi,

The design department in our university where I study has got an ney 3D-Printer from stratasys. Because of my experience with the Ultimaker I was made partly in charge for it.

While playing around with it I noticed some things in the slicer which are very helpful. So I thought that I could post my findings here because I think that they would be very good additions to the already extraordinary cura! =)

It's mainly about the support material and how so save as many as you can without decreasing the overall print quality:

The first setting for support material:

You can set the density of the support like the fan settings in newer cura versions which means that you can for example say that the support material will have 15% at the beginning and when it moves closer to the object the support density will increase for example up to 50%. This way you save material and print time but also get near perfect surfaces under the support material. This setting is very good for dual printing and solouble support materials.

The second setting is also about (solouble) support material:

You can set that the support material will be the same material as the main object at the beginning and when a specific distance to the object is reached it changes to the second (at best solouble) material. This way you save print time because of less head switches and save money, because solouble material is way more expensive than ABS or PLA.

The third and last:

You can set, where every layer will be started.

Every time when an new layer ist started, there is a little visible damage or blob on the surface. These little damage is caotically distributed all over the object in cura. But when you concentrate these damages to ony one area in the object, you also have only one area for the post-edeting. For this feature its important to be able to set where thes area will be so its not set at the front or an other important part of the object.

These are the features that I found most interresing and thought that they would be nice to haves in our loved cura and to make it perfect for solouble support material.

So Daid, are these settings possible to implement in cura or are the too complicated to do so?

Kind regards,

Lukas

 

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The third and last:

You can set, where every layer will be started.

 

I think the random starting point in Cura is a remnant of the skeinforge Jitter setting, or whatever it was called then, not in the sense of the actual code, rather the principle of how it works. Basically without it you get a single long seam, which is pretty ugly, and with this you get lots of smaller points, which don't look as ugly in general.

I would be very happy if we got the option to always start the layer at the same place, if you could choose that place like you propose. It would let you hide any seams very effectively.

The second setting seems like an awesome idea, but it also smells like patents. :) I will try to check.

Edit:

And there it is: https://www.google.com/patents/US6790403?dq=stratasys+support+material&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-f7wUpimBqWE4gSig4H4DQ&sqi=2&pjf=1&ved=0CGAQ6AEwBg

 

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Thats a real bummer with the patent.

But the first setting I mentioned is also kind of used in KISSlicer if Ihave looked correctly. The beginning of the support material is rough but when it comes closer to the objects surface it gets more compact and dense. I would really love to see that feature in Cura!! =)

 

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Thats a real bummer with the patent.

 

"Following formation, the object is placed in an alkaline bath to dissolve the support structure"

So just not using an alkaline bath, no patent problems. Which is why PVA like material are an option.

 

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Thanks for starting this thread, isphording90. Most of my comments will also be directed to Daid and the Cura team (maybe that is just Daid? :))

I know support material is somewhere on the list for improvements to Cura. Hopefully it's close to the top because right now it's the Achilles Heel of Cura, If you resolve it, Cura will be SO MUCH BETTER. Having run several other machines and software at my studio, here are some additional thoughts.

 

  1. I've had a PP3DP Up! printer for ~3 years. While the machine is junk, the software is decent, especially the support material algorithm. It uses minimal material and is much easier to remove than what Cura generates. It basically uses a single extrusion zigzag pattern for the tall spans (not a grid) and then a thin raft where it touches the part. It is also spaced better so it just barely touches the part and pops off. I doubt they've patented the algorithm/geometry.
  2. I've also had a Form1 for <1 year that comes with PreForm software. Again, the machine has its issues but they've been steadily improving the software's support material generator. It uses thin posts with conical ends that intersect the part. Pretty easy to remove.
  3. And I recently bought Simplify3D for my UM2 hoping it would be a temporary stand-in while Cura figures out support material. It uses a combination of the automated zigzag supports and thin posts for manually added supports (basically combining Up! & Form1 approaches). I actually like Cura much better overall, Simplify3D doesn't actually have a UM2 preset and the user interface is clunky.

I know you're swamped with tons of requests, problems, ideas, etc. but support material really is very important. UM2 is the best built machine of all our desktop 3D printers, Cura just needs good support material so it can be the software UM2 deserves.

Thanks

 

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Thanks for starting this thread, isphording90. Most of my comments will also be directed to Daid and the Cura team (maybe that is just Daid? :))

I know support material is somewhere on the list for improvements to Cura. Hopefully it's close to the top because right now it's the Achilles Heel of Cura, If you resolve it, Cura will be SO MUCH BETTER. Having run several other machines and software at my studio, here are some additional thoughts.

 

  1. I've had a PP3DP Up! printer for ~3 years. While the machine is junk, the software is decent, especially the support material algorithm. It uses minimal material and is much easier to remove than what Cura generates. It basically uses a single extrusion zigzag pattern for the tall spans (not a grid) and then a thin raft where it touches the part. It is also spaced better so it just barely touches the part and pops off. I doubt they've patented the algorithm/geometry.

  2. I've also had a Form1 for <1 year that comes with PreForm software. Again, the machine has its issues but they've been steadily improving the software's support material generator. It uses thin posts with conical ends that intersect the part. Pretty easy to remove.

  3. And I recently bought Simplify3D for my UM2 hoping it would be a temporary stand-in while Cura figures out support material. It uses a combination of the automated zigzag supports and thin posts for manually added supports (basically combining Up! & Form1 approaches). I actually like Cura much better overall, Simplify3D doesn't actually have a UM2 preset and the user interface is clunky.

I know you're swamped with tons of requests, problems, ideas, etc. but support material really is very important. UM2 is the best built machine of all our desktop 3D printers, Cura just needs good support material so it can be the software UM2 deserves.

Thanks

 

The UP! uses ABS, which bonds less easy to itself, making the snap ways support easier to do then with PLA (if you use the same structure with PLA it's much harder to remove)

Support material for fluid printers is a whole different problem, they can do very thin pilars, while with FDM printing you should not try that, as they will break while printing.

Pretty much every support material idea, I've heard it, I've noted it. And I'm saying what I always say "I'm busy, very busy. And I've not seen a single proposed algorithm, only general ideas. General ideas are cheap."

There are 2 problems that you need to solve for support material:

1) Detect where support material is needed.

2) Support those areas

Both problems are currently solved with the quickest solution I could come up with. Just looking at the angle of the polygons and building material straight down.

 

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Sometimes I make my own support material in the model. I notice that making long thin walls that print as straight lines makes the support easy to remove in pla.

No dual extrusion in the UM2 yet, but once that happens it would solve many support issues just by using a dissolvable material.

 

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