This instructable will walk you through a basic step by step instruction for preparing a mash-up sculpture, created in Maya, Freeform (or other Open Source software) and 3D printed using UPrint and/or Mojo printer. This specific model (#buddha + #simpson) is part of a series of combined, sculptural objects called Dark Matter that are brought together to form humorous juxtapositions. I worked on these series of objects for one year. The objects chosen for the first series are the objects/things that are forbidden or un-welcome in Iran by law. I found the idea of printing objects/things that are forbidden in oppressive countries a fascinating concept. I think it pushes us to think about both the possibilities and limitations of a technology like 3D printers... and the life-changing potential of them in our daily lives currently and in the future to come.
Step 1: Step 1: Supplies + Programs
First you need to gather or have access to:
1) A 3D printer (I have used both UPrint and Mojo Printer for this project)
2) Material: ABS-M30 (see the list of available colors)
+ then download these programs if you already don't have them:
Autodesk Maya (free for students/educators - or you can use a free trial)
MeshLab or Slic3r or Geomagic Freeform for processing and editing your object. You can also use other open source or printing software for this process.
Step 2: Step 2: Download or make some models in Maya
For my Dark Matter project, I have modeled my own objects and also downloaded and re-appropriated some that are listed as Creative Common. Here is one website where you can download Maya models for free if you don't want to model everything yourself: http://www.turbosquid.com/
If you have never used Turbosquid, you will need to register to be able to download the files. In Turbosquid there are models that you can purchase but also there are lots of free models with Creative Common License. This is the trick for finding the free objects easily:
1-Go to this link: http://www.turbosquid.com/maya-3d
2- Then search for the object/model that you want to download.
3- After you hit the search button, a new page will show up which will allow you to customize your search. Under the Price section, you can "Enter custom price range". To find free models put 0 for $Min and 0 for $Max price.
4- Also, under Formats, choose OBJ if you will be using Maya to put together and clean up your models.
Step 3: Step 3: Combining the models + Cleaning up using Maya
After you import your objects in Maya or if you have modeled them already, you now want to combine them in anyway that you like or fits your idea/concept. One thing that is really important in this process is "cleaning up the overlapped meshes". This has been an important point in my experience of 3D printing objects that are combined. If you don't erase or clean up the parts of the two or three combined models that overlap, you most probably will be receiving an error from your 3D printer (I did when I used UPrint or Mojo). Also, if you are printing these in a smaller size and your models have thin edges, measure them in Maya to make sure no edges or width or any parts of your object is less than 1mm. You can use measuring tools in Maya to do this or later when you are in the pre-printing process using other printing software.
When you are done putting together your models, select them all and choose "Combine" under "Mesh" in Maya. Then export your file as STL.
Step 4: Step 4: Pre-Printing Process (also known as packing)
This is also an important part of your modeling and pre-printing process. I have used both MeshLab and Freeform in this process to create a solid model and also do final editing/smoothing/cleaning up. Having access to a software like Freeform is probably not an easy option since it's expensive and not open source. I used it during my residency at Sculptcad this past year and it was an amazing experience because you can sculpt/curve/smooth your model using a force-feedback enabled digital sculpting pen. So if you can get a hold off one to use, it's worth the experience! (feeling your model when applying force through the pen in your hand is pretty amazing!!).
If you are using an open source software like MeshLab, there are some basic and simple options for editing your model. There are also printing software that will let you pre-process your model for the printer.
Step 5: Step 5: Printing your model
Technology: FDM - Thermo Plastics
The above information for material and printing setting will result in a solid and dense objects. For uPrint the max size for printing is 8" x 8" x 6" and for Stratasys Mojo printer is 4.7" x 4.7" x 4.7". Depending on your object and whether you have thin edges, you can decide on the orientation of your object for printing. One interesting thing that I've learned in this process is that if in your printing software (MeshLab, FreeForm, etc) you choose the orientation in a way that it starts from the thin edges, you will have a better/stronger edge.
Once you have decided on the quality, size, and color for your objects, you can push "start" button on printer's control panel to start printing (you should also be able to see the remaining hours for printing once the printing starts).
Step 6: Final Step: Washing/Removing Support Material
After your printing is done your object is ready for the final step which is washing (a process to dissolve the extra supporting material from your object). There are different machines or cleaning solutions/chemicals you can use for washing the supporting material off your objects. At my Sculptcad Art residency I had access to a machine for washing/dissolving the support material off my 3D printed objects. You can use/purchase other solutions if you need to. Here is some more useful information about support material: http://www.pddnet.com/blogs/2012/07/3d-printing-understanding-support-material
The video below shows the process of Washing/Removing Support Material from one of my objects in the Dark Matter series.
Step 7: Finally!!
Here is my #Buddha #Simpson object after it's done and dry!
Also, two more pictures from a bigerr #Buddha #Simpson that was printed for my artist residency at Sculptcad! : )
I will be posting more instructions (and hopefully more/better documented) in the near future! Stay Tuned!