|Monthly Tech-Tip |
Simplify3D knows how to convert the 3D geometry generated by Fusion 360 into G-Code (shown in the black text window lower right). I have just told Fusion 360 to print this and it automatically launched this and passed the 3D geometry to it. Simplify3D is a "slicer" because it knows how to convert a 3D object into slices that a 3D printer can lay down (one on top of the other). Simplify3D is fairly expensive and competes with a number of free products (like Slic3r, Cura). It gives me a 3D view of the object and enables positioning and rotating it on the bed and configuring dozens of parameters. It is about to deliver the G-Code (via a USB connection) to my RepRap 3D printer (although it is often preferable to use the "Save Toothpaths to Disk" button to generate G-Code and write it to an SDCard which the printer can accept). The black text-edit window shows what the G-Code looks like. It is just text. With hundreds of thousands of commands that mostly move the head to successive X-Y positions and a defined filament feed-rate.
Intimidation by the complexity of this type of software is the biggest obstacle you will face to learning 3D design (for 3D-printing). That being said, the new mission of AutoDesk, the leader in CAD software for 30 years, is to make it easy and universal! Fusion 360 has a lot of advantages. It is a standard. There is a simple learning curve via Tinkercad.com, videos on Youtube, easy online help and many freelancers to hire (at Upwork.com). It is free to qualifying users (teachers, students or people who earn less that $100k/yr), the fact that software of this kind of power and utility is actually available to anyone that wants to try it is amazing. Fusion 360 (and other 3D design products) cannot run 3D printers (3D slicers do that). Fusion 360 is very demanding on the processor and graphics hardware of your computer, typical laptops are not powerful enough.
This slicer ships with, and is recommended for, the Prusa line of 3D printers (when you click to print something in your 3D design software (e.g. Fusion 360) it sends the 3D geometry to your chosen slicer software, that software drives the actual printer). Simplicity and the exact visual reproduction of the printed bed make this a good choice for slicing (slicing is the mathematical process of cutting a 3D object into layers that can be printed successively). Another advantage is that online help for this printer will generally assume the use of this slicer. There are a myriad of settlings and parameters that printing software must respect to adapt to each type of 3D printer and the pairing of the Prusa printers with this slicer will be the best.
Expensive and cheap RepRap printers have the same type of control panel. The info-screen displays on startup and during print jobs, it shows the temperature of the nozzle and the bed and percentage completion. Pressing the dial-button brings up the menu, you move the selector by turning the dial and select a choice by pressing it again. An SD-Card inserts on the side (that is where you write G-Code files produced by your slicer software). Then, using the "Print From SD" menu choice (bottom panel), you choose the desired file and click the button to begin. That initiates the head and bed heat-up sequences and the print starts when that is done. This control panel is also needed to load and unload filament, calibrate the height of the bed, settings, etc.
3D printing is very important in ceramics, hobby and industry. A slicer is software that slices up a 3D model and runs the printer to lay down each layer.
Standard 3D printing technology (not printing with clay itself) is very useful to potters and ceramic industry in making objects that assist and enable production.
An exciting new frontier that combines math and ceramics! People that are both left and right-brained are creating incredible pieces. But the clay is still a key to success.