You may have noticed here at Instructables we have been giving away a lot of 3D prints. It has been a lot of fun processing everyone's models through our printers, but it has become clear that we educate the community on how they can get the best print possible. The following steps will outline the criterion for getting the models of your dreams from Instructables.com's fleet of Objet Connex 500 printers.
This Instructable is intended as a resource for those receiving/winning 3D prints from Instructables.
Step 1: Software and Filetypes
The Objet Connex printers are able to process .stl wireframe files. Many 3D software and CAD programs have an export functionality that will allow you to turn your .dwg file or .obj file into an .stl file.
When it comes to generating models, you have many options in the 3D modeling program you choose to use. Each program has its advantages and disadvantages that are specific to the types of models you may be making.
We have sucessfully processed files from:
123D Sculpt and 123D Catch
Step 2: Materials available.
The Objet family of resins is expansive. They are adding new UV-cured resins to their catalog constantly. We are currently printing with Objet's ABS-like material, VeroWhite, VeroClear, and TangoBlack.
The Vero suite of resins produces a very rigid, slightly brittle, solid model. The material is only brittle if the print wall is too thin. To avoid this problem, be sure that your model has walls that are at least 2mm thick. If you are designing objects with thin tendrils, or unsupported corners, the pure VeroWhite or VeroClear materials may not be the right choice.
The Tango suite of resins is incredibly flexible. It is like 3D printing with rubber. This material is very strong and will flex and bend. Even thin-walls and unsupported corners will withstand force. However, the material is not very rigid.
Step 3: Digital Materials
This brings me to Digital Materials. Objet's system of polyjet-matrix printing allows the printer to mix materials as it prints. This means you can have a partially rigid plastic/partially flexible rubber print.
This also means that you can make models that are assemblies - with each component of the assembly being different composite material. The Objet Connex printers are able to print to tolerances of .2mm before fusing the model, so if you are making an assembly with moving components, please allow .2mm of space between your parts.
Step 4: The Print Process
After the model files have been loaded into the printer, the printer begins the job, or batch. These high-resolution prints can sometimes take up to 80 hours depending on the complexity and size of the models. (Please be patient while waiting for you Instructables print, as they do take time.)
After the printer is done with its batch of models, they are pulled from the tray, and washed.
When the Objet printer is growing models, it is simultaneously adding support material and resins. When the model is complete, the support material needs to be pressure washed off. This step in the process is the most volatile. Models that are too thin, or that have inflexible joints are often blown to pieces in the washer. Also, removing support material is often difficult. If a model has a whole lot of detail, often the person washing the model has to go in with a set of dental tools, and pick out material from the print. If you are afraid of someone breaking a print, you can opt to clean the support material off yourself, and we will send you a model that is encased in support medium.
Delicacy of models is often solved by changing model material, or changing the scale of the model.
Step 5: Examples of Prints
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One of the coolest things that these printers are capable of is generating super complex geometric models, and creating moving assemblies within the print. Click through the above photos and scroll over the embedded notes to get a greater understanding of what makes an excellent print.
Step 6: Specialty uses and materials.
These printers are EXTREMELY powerful, and capable of making some incredible prototypes. Even molds! Instructables is willing to work with our authors to make sure they get the print they are after. If you are seeking to make a mold, you may use the ABS-like material to withstand the temperatures of low-temperature mold-making.
If you are wanting to make things like tires, or wanting to integrate two different kind of materials into one model, you can! By creating an assembly with a tight tolerance (smaller than .2mm), you are able to designate a specific material blends to each component of your print. The TangoBlack rubber resin has a very low Shore durometer, so the darker the print is, the more rubbery it is. We combine these low durometer materials with more rigid combinations of resins to create advance prototypes that will withstand all kinds of testing.