What happened to non-planar slicing and printing?

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Downunder35m
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What happened to non-planar slicing and printing?

Post by Downunder35m »

For those not familiar with the term non-planar-slicing:
Unlike your normal slicer the model will be cut with three dimensional tool paths where applicable.
Means, for example, something like a plane wing would be printed with the platform going up and down during a layer.
Allows to print the impossible and to get a superior finish for those curved top surfaces.

When the idea took off a few years ago the hype was massive.
And the required changes for a printer to be capable of the basics wasn't too hard either.
Literally just making sure the nozzle comes out a bit from the head to get more clearance.
Quite quickly we saw the downsides of a fixed nozzle.
With a vertical hotend you really struggle to print a 30° angle on a surface.
This can result in rather bad adhesion and looks.
The developers saw the potential and we got our first tiltable nozzles.
Printer manufacturers however utilised it for multi systems to get a better print result.
Not having the other head crash into a slightly curling print can make a big difference.
Around the time these systems came out I noticed a strange lack of updates on the Github pages for those non-planar slicers.

Turned out that non-planar printing for normal printers requires a code generation that is far less aggressive in terms of possible print shapes.
Around 10° seems to be limits if you still want a good surface quality and good adhesion.
And while some forks still develop today the entire thing seems a bit stagnant.
Looking at those projects that started to go with tiltable nozzles we can see how they literally stopped dead in the tracks.
Time to look a it deeper into the problem....
Ever worked with a really dedicated 3D program?
Rhino is one... A quite expensive solution I might add.
And they teamed up with a company for a non-planar printer.
The machine is still not available but they are selling !! demo g-code....
On the other front we have all those printer manufacturers who already developed movable or tiltable print head systems for their machines.
They are all patented.....
It seems what started out as a great thing turned sour thanks to greed.
Slic3r! had plans to go non-planar.....
There however it seems the guy behind it teamed up with Autodesk.

The reality today looks rather grim as there seems to be nothing in proper development to try out non-planar printing.
We will soon see it as a feature for dedicated printers combined with high end software.
But for now it sadly seems the free track is closed for public access....
FDM is sorts of a dead horse right now with resin printers taking the lead in many areas.
Non-planar printing will give it another boost but it will be questionable if those dedicated printers and their slicers will be affordable for hobby users.
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Orngrimm
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Re: What happened to non-planar slicing and printing?

Post by Orngrimm »

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Downunder35m
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Re: What happened to non-planar slicing and printing?

Post by Downunder35m »

So much for me staying on top of things :(
And I really thought I searched everywhere for something current.
I guess I am getting old.
Not really the old school non-planar way but definately a feasable option for more printers we already have.
Only downside, if you can call it that:
It won't really work on machines that use custom Gcode and firmwares.
A lot of manual labour is required to modify the commands to match.
But I see there is some hope, so thanks for the link!
Exploring the works of the old inventors, mixng them up with a modern touch.
To tinker and create means to be alive.
Bringing the long lost back means history comes alive again.
Downunder35m
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Re: What happened to non-planar slicing and printing?

Post by Downunder35m »

Ok, here is the link for this slicer I somehow missed on Github:
https://github.com/CNCKitchen/ConicalSlicer
There is also other forks, so feel free to check the different branches and such.

One thing to keep in mind is that this project was aimed at the RoBot 3D printer which allows for a 45° print angle.
The updated scripts now allow you to set any angle for transformation process.
Means you could just do a bunch of test prints to determine the limit of your fixed nozzle setup and use much lower angles, e.g. 12°.

If you have a printer that is conform with the Gcode generated by the script you should be fine.
In case you just need some dedicated starting and ending code you can save them as a text file and just exchange the corresponding areas of the Gcode files you create with an editor like Notepad++ if you print software does not provide a built in editor.

Some printers that also come with their own dedicated slicing software, like Flashforge and such, need a bit more attention to the code.
Compare the Gcode your company provided Slicer offers to standard Gcode.
Or Generate a simple test cube to print with your slicer and some universal one.
The start and end code you can swap out, so compare how the actual printing code might differ in terms of commands used.
If you identify different codes used just write a script or batch file to have it all replaced automatically in an editor.
Exploring the works of the old inventors, mixng them up with a modern touch.
To tinker and create means to be alive.
Bringing the long lost back means history comes alive again.
Downunder35m
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Re: What happened to non-planar slicing and printing?

Post by Downunder35m »

Having said the above : Don't bother if you have a dual nozzle printer that is fixed and you expect quick and easy results.
I wanted to check what sort of angle is possible but in the direction of the unused nozzle is just isn't enough to be of any use.
I am sure there is a way to define the angle direction so you can make best use of one of the nozzles but I just don#t have enough at the moment to dive deep into this transformation script and the correct usage.

Generating a transformed STL file and slicing it in standard slicer did not end too well as it already complained about errors in the file.
Auto correct would mean messing up the STIL file, ignoring meant the printer just stopped after a few layers without even giving an error.
Simplify3D however created Gcode from the file that worked on the printer until the other nozzle started bumping into things.
Overall certainly a nice new toy to try out, especially if you create your parts and now might have more options to make the print possible without wasting a lot of time a filament on supports.

There is now one thing that could make me bu another printer.....
If this scripting approach would make it in an easy to use form to delta printers it could be fantastic.
I doubled checked on the mechanical part for the head and it should be possible to get quite some flexibility into the head.
Angles of around 30° in all directions should be no problem.
Sadly it seems there is no fork or project for these printers - yet.
One problem of course would be that you would have to calibrate the movement to compensate for the nozzle going out of position when the angle changes.
After all, those mechanics are usually ABOVE the nozzle and never the the same height as the nozzle.
Makes not much difference in terms of the required firmware changes to make an angular movement of the head possible but still...

With that in mind I was wondering how a really dedicated printer for non planar, or like in this case conical print could look like.
For some reason I always seem to get back to 5 axis CNC machines....
To translate it into a printer I could imagine this:
A bed that moves a rotating table up and down.
The print head(s) would be on a revolver system mounted on a 3 axis robotic arm.
Like this the only bad limitations are the clearance for the head and revolver system.
As overhangs on "small" parts would be a real issue for full freedom of movement:
Use just one head and mount it inside the joint for the last arm axis.
Of course all this stay utter nonsense until we also get either a micro extruder or bowden system that allows for impossible transport pathways.
Let's hope the project stay open source and that it finds many followers and supporters!
Exploring the works of the old inventors, mixng them up with a modern touch.
To tinker and create means to be alive.
Bringing the long lost back means history comes alive again.
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