3D Printing High Quality Models
There are some really impressive looking Objet models that show amazing levels of detail and resolution. How exactly do you go about getting your models to look like that? Well, first you have to export your model out at a high enough resolution to bring forth all of the detail in the part.
The image below shows a SOLIDWORKS part we have created. You can see that what we made in SOLIDWORKS is smooth and perfect like we would want for our final product.
Once we complete the design in Solidworks, we do a “Save-As” operation to export it into an STL (Standard Tessellation Language) file so we can print it.
How do we know if it was high enough quality of an export? We can open the file up quickly in Objet Studio or the free Mini-Magics Viewer to do a quick visual inspection. As an added benefit, Mini-Magics will also reveal missing faces or problems with the STL file that you have exported. Depending on what software you use to export out your STL file, there can be geometry issues.
Since the Objet printers are so accurate they will be able to print out exactly what you give them. If you send the printer a low resolution file with roughly tessellated edges, it will print that part with roughly tessellated edges. When you save a model as an STL, what the program is doing is breaking down the surfaces into groups of connected triangles along each surface of the part.
A part made up of large, flat surfaces will translate easily into an STL with small number of large triangles. If there are curved surfaces in a part, smaller triangles are needed to blend the curves smoothly. We can see from this low quality file that the flat surfaces are perfect, but the curved surfaces need more refining.
Refine STL Export
Let’s go back into SOLIDWORKS and try increasing the resolution of the STL we are exporting. What we want to aim for is a little better than the resolution of the printer you are using. When saving a SOLIDWORKS file as a .stl file, you can alter the file resolution by clicking on “Options” from the “Save As” Dialogue. An Objet printer operating at high-speed mode works in 28 micron (.001”) layers, so we can set Deviation Tolerance to just a little under .001” and Angle Tolerance to 5°.
High Quality Export Complete
When we open the new high resolution file in Mini-Magics, we can see that the curves are looking much better and smoother. Now we are ready to send the file off to the printer to be made into a reality.
Click Here to learn more about Objet 3D Printing.
Author: Tim Crennen