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GETTING STARTED -PART 2- 15 WAYS FOR GENERATING A CAD MODEL FOR 3D PRINTING

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In our last article we talked about the 7 different types of additive manufacturing processes and how to choose the appropriate technology based on your needs. By now, you may already have chosen the right 3D printer for yourself. Are you wondering how long it will take you before you can make your first 3D model? If you are staring at a blank screen with no idea what comes next, there is nothing to worry about. At Tripodmaker our mission is to make 3D printing accessible to everyone. The process of preparing a 3D model for printing is often unique to everyone, but hopefully these guidelines will provide a foundation for you. So go ahead, read our article or download our e-book now! 

 

GENERATING YOUR CAD MODEL

To get started with 3D printing, you first need to design the 3D object. In the additive manufacturing industry people say: “If you can draw it, you can make it.” A great deal of items can be made with 3D printers. You can draw them yourself or you can easily download object files from various websites. 

DRAW IT YOURSELF

If you want to draw/design the 3D object yourself, there are free and paid software available online, which range in complexity. You can review Wikipedia for a list of 3D modeling software applications or read our selection below. You can learn how to 3D model starting with free 3D modeling software like Rhino, Blender or SketchUp. It will take you some weeks to be familiar with 3D modeling tools such as the aforementioned. To become a professional user will take you at least half a year to study and practice.

 

GOOGLE SKETCHUP

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This is a fun, free and easy to use software. To build models in SketchUp, you draw lines and shapes using a few simple tools that you can learn in a short time. With the Push/Pull tool, for instance, you can turn surfaces into 3D forms. Very easy to learn and intuitive, it offers the possibility to be productive within a couple of hours.

 

free 3D modeling software 3D printing

3DTIN

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3DTin is a free web-based program for creating three dimensional models. You can draw directly from your browser. 3DTin offers templates that you can use to develop models or you can just as well design a model from scratch by placing cubes of different colors on top of each other. The service is free to use as long as you allow your models to be labeled with a Creative Commons license and put them in the 3DTin gallery. The gallery is a great place to find examples of what can be created in 3DTin. Models that you create can be exported in standard 3D file formats (STL for instance) in order to be used in other modeling software. You can also save the sketches in cloud. 3DTin could be a great tool for engineering or architecture activity or even for teaching students.

 

free 3D modeling software 3D printing

BLENDER

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If you are looking to create an artistic 3D model, this is the right software program for you. Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for Linux, Mac and Windows. It is a powerful software offering lots of design freedom and endless design options, however it might be quite difficult to learn. It is typically used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, interactive 3D applications and video games. This software is a nice tool for fixing and making simple changes to STL files.

 

free 3D modeling software 3D printing

OPENSCAD

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OpenSCAD is a software for creating solid 3D CAD (Computer-aided design) objects. It is free software and available for Linux/UNIX, MS Windows and Mac OS X. It might be the application you are looking for when you are planning to create 3D models of machine parts since it does not focus on the artistic aspects of 3D modelling but instead on the CAD aspects. It is something like a 3D-compiler that reads in a script file that describes the object and renders the 3D model from this script file. This gives to the user full control over the modelling process and enables him to easily change any step in the modelling process or make designs that are defined by configurable parameters.

 

free 3D modeling software 3D printing

TINKERCAD

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If you are just starting and want an easy to use option, TinkerCAD is the perfect 3d printing companion for you! It is a new and faster way of creating designs for your 3D printer. By creating an account and following tutorials you can learn to design basic parts quickly. With only three basic tools you can create a wide range of useful things. Once your project is ready simply download the STL file and start your 3D print. Tinkercad supports all 3D printers on the market that accept standard STL file formats. You can also download VRML files for color printing. There are limitations to the program but it is a great place to get started. 

 

free 3D modeling software 3D printing

COMMERCIAL SOFTWARE

Commercial software such as CAD software AutoCAD and Pro Engineer, as well as software packages Rhino, Maya, and SolidWorks are all pretty good for designing 3D models, if money is not the issue. Rhino is incredibly easy to use, thanks to its combination of a command-line and toolbar interface, and extreme flexibility regarding order of operations. The end result is a 3D software that feels intuitive and solid. Maya is the current king-of-the-hill in high-end 3D animation software. It offers a comprehensive creative feature set on a highly extensible production platform. When it comes to SolidWorks, it is simple enough to deduce and work with limited to no experience but still powerful enough to model any engineering problem that might crop up.

 

free 3D modeling software 3D printing

DOWNLOAD OBJECTS

If you want to look into what other designers or artists have created and released to the public, both free and paid, search the internet to discover what is out there. And like everything on the internet, there’s a great deal more than you’d expect. Here are some websites with 3D models database:

3D MARVELS

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The site operates as a clearinghouse for 3D artist works. For each and every copy of the model that you cut using your tools, you must buy a license from 3DMarvels.com. You are not allowed to remove the 3DMarvels.com logo or otherwise modify the file. You must purchase a license before printing.

Cad models for 3D printing database

3D VIA

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3DVIA focuses on the development of 3D authoring, publishing, and hosting tools for professional and consumer markets. 

Cad models for 3D printing database

GRABCAD

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GrabCAD is a startup that has created a free cloud-based collaboration solution that helps engineering teams manage, view and share CAD files. It has recently released Workbench, a free cloud-based collaboration solution that helps engineering teams manage, share, and view CAD files. 

Cad models for 3D printing database

TRIMBLE/GOOGLE 3D WAREHOUSE

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Users first need to create and account. Then they can search models and collections and download a 3D model for free. Designers can upload their designs to share with other users. Just click on Upload, accept the terms of service, upload the file, and then fill in the fields for title description, logo, and tags.

Cad models for 3D printing database

PONOKO PRODUCT PLANS

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Choose and buy a design and download the files to your PC. You can also edit and mashup the product plans you download from Ponoko to create something completely original. Just remember to abide by the designer's copyright license. The site offers the possibility to produce the items you order using Ponoko’s make-on-demand technology. Products can be shipped to your door.

Cad models for 3D printing database

SHAPEWAYS 3D PARTS DATABASE

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The Shapeways 3D parts Database is a resource where you can download files from. The files are free under a Creative Commons license and you can use them to work quicker and build exciting models. The site offers compression springs, gears, gearboxes, coil springs and leaf springs for users to download and use for their projects.

Cad models for 3D printing database

THINGIVERSE

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Thingiverse is a DIY 3D printer kit making company, with an almost endless repository of 3D models that you can use to test the limits of your printer. The models cover categories such as 3D printing, art, hobby, models, tools etc. Many of the objects shared on Thingiverse are also for the purpose of repair. Next time you have a broken zipper make sure to check Thingiverse, the design for printing your replacement part may already have been posted there. What’s even more interesting is getting involved with the community. You can learn a lot by following and interacting with some of the more advanced users. 

Cad models for 3D printing database

TURBOSQUID

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TurboSquid offers a great selection of 3D models and other tools like textures and plug–ins that have passed rigorous testing procedures to ensure they will work with your software. They work with thousands of artists to generate a maximum of creative possibilities making the user’s creations as imaginative as possible. 

Cad models for 3D printing database

MYMINIFACTORY

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MyMiniFactory is a curated social platform for 3D printable objects. It doesn’t use the business model that is emerging as the industry standard – the upload for free, download for fee -concept. Instead, they offer users free downloads, category and catalogue extensions by request, yet still offer suitable monetary incentives for the uploaders. The community platform connects 3D designers, makers, users and brands: 3D designers can upload and share their creations, promote them and earn money from sales. Makers can print for others and earn money while users can download thousands of 3D printable objects for free, buy printed objects, or follow their favorite designers and makers. Brands can reach out to the community with contests and other features.

Sites with free cad models

CONCLUSION

How long will it take you before you can turn your idea into a 3D model? Well, that is really up to you and how much time you want to spend doing it. There are certain people who want to absorb as much knowledge as they can and choose not to apply it until they have a good sense of understanding. Then there are some eager users that may actually get started too quickly, but that is ok too, since they will learn by doing it. The next step of making a 3D printing design is to understand STL files and how to create a good one. Are you struggling with faulty STL files? Stay tuned for our next article explaining how to fix your CAD (Computer-aided design) files and how to prepare them for the slicing software.

GETTING STARTED WITH 3D PRINTING

FOR THE IMPATIENT READER, FEEL FREE TO FIND MORE IN OUR FREE EBOOK

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NEW FIRMWARE HAS ARRIVED

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Last few months, we have put a great effort in creating a firmware update. The firmware update contains two new functions. The update is only suited for the machines that came with magnetic connectors.

WHAT DID WE UPDATE?

We basically added two complete new functionalities on the devices:

  1. Manual calibration procedure
  2. Save and Stop -> Resume function

THE NEW MANUAL CALIBRATION MENU:

A new manual calibration menu helps you through the process of calibration. With this new function, there is no need to connect the Printer to the computer to level the build plate. It takes you through a series of steps, allowing you to tune the build plate in an easier and more intuitive way.

THE STOP AND SAVE MENU:

During print, you sometimes want to swap filament. Or you just don’t want to start a print that will take quite some time to finish. The Stop and Save menu allows you to pause your prints, and let them continue after some seconds, or even after some days. The printer just continues right where it stopped when after you Stop-and-saved it.

Alert:

Keep in mind that updating the firmware in a wrong way can result in a not properly working device. It is required to execute every step like written in this blog-post. In case something is not clear, please get back to info@tripodmaker.com.

 

CAN I UPDATE MY TRIPODMAKER FIRMWARE?

How to check if your machine is definitely suited for the firmware update? Check for the version label on the back of your Tripodmaker. It should clearly show version 2.0. Second, it should have had the magnetic contacts as you received from our factory.

 

THE NEW FIRMWARE INSTALLATION IS DONE IN 4 MAJOR STEPS STEPS:

STEP 1 – PRINTRUN

1.1 Instal Printrun, you can find your latest version here.

1.2 Turn on your Tripodmaker and connect the printer with your computer through its USB cable. Now open the Printrun application. Select the appropriate COM-port (in my case COM19) and set the baud rate to 115200. In case the COM port doesn’t show up directly, be a bit patient. Unplug your printer, or even sometimes you will need to do a reboot operation.

 

1.3 Click “Connect” and in the right command line screen, info will appear after successful connection. I maximized the Printrun window in order to give a clear insight in what shows up. We are looking for the values Rxxx.xx, Dyyy.yy, Hzzz.zz (x, y and z stand for numbers) behind the M666 text. I highlighted these numbers on the picture below. Now write down the numbers. These numbers will be different when compared to the picture and are unique for your printer. It is your responsibility not to loose these numbers you see on your screen. Losing these numbers will result in a non-calibrated machine. Now disconnect the software by clicking the “Disconnect” button.

 

If none of these M666 text is showing up, there is no need to panic. A value is readable on the back of your 3D printer label. This number refers to the Rxxx.xx value (radius value). To know the Hzzz.zz value, just home your printer (on the printer controller > Prepare > Auto Home) and write down the Z-height after homing. It is your responsibility not to loose these numbers you collected. Losing these numbers will result in a non-calibrated machine.

 

STEP 2 – ARDUINO

2.1 Install Arduino, you can find the latest version here.

2.2 Once installed sent a mail to info@tripodmaker.com [we had a download before but as the site moved to a new location, this is a temporary work around]. Make sure to unpack the received files in a folder called “TripodmakerMarlin”.

2.3 Now open TripodmakerMarlin.ino. The TripodmakerMarlin firmware will now open with several tabs i.e. MarlinTripodmaker.ino, Configuration.h, Configuration_adv.h, EEPROMwrite.h, etc…

 

2.4 Make sure the TripodMaker is connected to your computer and powered on. (Note: If Pronterface (or another host program like RepetierHost) is open, make sure to either close it or disconnect it from the Tripodmaker before uploading)

2.5 Click on “Tools” then “Board” then “Arduino Mega 2560 or Mega ADK”. This will select the arduino mega 2560 as your default board, which is the board that is inside your TripodMaker.

 

 

2.6 Click on “Tools” then “Serial Port” then select the appropriate COM port (In my case COM19). In case the COM port doesn’t show up directly, be a bit patient. Unplug your printer, or even sometimes you will need to do a reboot operation.

 

2.7 Click the “Upload” button (highlighted yellow in the following picture) to upload the firmware to your electronics. Make sure you don’t add any characters to the code as these might brake the code.

 2.8 In the bottom left corner of the Arduino application, a “Compiling” message will appear followed by an “Uploading” message. After the firmware has been uploaded the message will change to “Done”.

There you have it; you have just uploaded Marlin to your Tripodmaker electronics! Congratulations, you can now close your Arduino program.

STEP 3 – GETTING THE VALUES BACK IN.

We now have the new firmware uploaded to our device, but we still need to put in the old calibration value’s we recovered during STEP 1. These are unique values and are different for every printer. If you lost these values or you enter wrong ones, your device will probably not be working properly. It is your responsibility not to loose these numbers and not to enter them wrong.

3.1 Re-open Printrun and connect the Printerun software to your printer like I explained in STEP 1.

3.2.1 In case there was no Printrun output and you had to write down the numbers for the LCD screen and the Label, go to 3.2.2.

Now type in the following command in the command line and replace the xxx.xx, yyy.yy and zzz.zz with the numbers you wrote down in the previous step and hit “Send”. Attention: Use a “.” [dot] and NOT a “,” [comma] as separator!

M666 Rxxx.xx Dyyy.yy Hzzz.zz

3.2.2 In case there was no Printrun output and you had to write down the numbers for the LCD screen and the Label, just use this code in the command line and hit “Send”. Attention: Use a “.” [dot] and NOT a “,” [comma] as separator!

M666 Rxxx.xx Hzzz.zz

Now type the M500 command in the same spot to store the values.

M500

STEP 4 – ENJOY THE NEW FEATURES!

THE MANUAL CALIBRATION MENU

This menu kind of speaks for itself. You can go through a routine were the printer head is moving around the build plate. Please make sure the build plate is empty so the hot end can’t bump into recently printed objects.

For a detailed explanation, download our latest manual available in our downloads-section.

THE SAVE AND STOP MENU

During print, you can now select “Save and Stop”. This overwrites a file called “resume.g”. Opening this file results in a continuation of the print you were doing. Opening the “resume.g” file if it didn’t match with the print you were doing will result in a faulty operation (crashing or floating above the semi-printed part). So be sure to only select the “resume.g” file in case you are sure you did a correct “Save and Stop” before!

Enjoy.

-p

 

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