Archive for .STL files

Worlds Collide: 3D Printing Experience Informs Metal Sculpting

Dynatorch Super B 4x4 CNC Plasma TableSince I became a full-time artist in 2006, I’ve purchased and used a lot of tools. A lot of tools. If you took the recent video tour of my studio, you see many of them, and yes, I use them all. Using the right tool for the job can mean the difference between a job well done and one that turns out just OK, and the difference between spending hours and committing days to a single task.

Recently, I “moved up” in the world of metal working with a purchase of a Dynatorch Super B 4×4 Plasma CNC table (right). This tool allows me do jobs in an hour that would have taken me days, and does them better. It cuts out the metal accurately and cleanly – no more cutting close, then trimming or grinding to size!

The CNC table is a game changer for me, much like my 3D printers have been.

Interestingly enough, my experience with 3D printing helped me get up to speed on the Super B a lot faster than I would have otherwise ….

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The 3 Biggest Myths About 3D Printing

Any time there is new technology – fax machines, the Internet, electric cars – claims abound it. New!

“This will change the world like nothing before it!”

“You’ll never have to [fill in the blank] again!”

“Your life will be easier and better than ever before!”

Of course, some of these claims end up being true, but often they blow the benefits out of proportion ….

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Feed your 3D printer with host software ….

In my previous two posts, I talked about the CAD software where a design begins and the separate slicer software I use to get more control of the condition of the printed piece (some host software has the slicer built in, and that may well be the way things are headed, but for now, that separate slicing software seems to work better).

Once you have prepared your file accordingly, it’s time to feed it to your printer. I use Repetier-Host, based on the recommendation of Steve Graber, who built the Cerberus 250 and Gigante printers I own (yeah, I bought a 250 for my desktop. Kinda like having an airliner and a puddlejumper – I’ll talk more about that in a future post).

Repetier Host homepage, repetier.com

Repetier Host homepage, repetier.com

According to an interesting Makezine article, which also talks about slicing software, Repetier-Host has now replaced Printrun as the most popular host software. As happens with technology, I suspect there will be more leapfrogging as things advance. The Makezine article mentions that Microsoft is even getting into the game, so this technology is catching the attention of the big boys now.

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3D printing starts with CAD

One of the reasons I was able to get involved with 3D printing so quickly was that I was already using CAD software. Computer Aided Design software allows you to create an .STL file, which creates an item in 3 dimensions and is the file from which a 3D printer works.

I started using Alibre software about five or six years ago because, honestly, I can’t draw. Yes, I know that’s weird, because I’m an artist, but I’m a sculptor. I can think in 3 dimensions, but drawing is, at best, a challenge for me.

I picked Alibre because it was free. I could download a trial version and play with it, which I did. A lot. I spent many hours just dinking around with it.

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