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Major Software Tasks

Posted by jbayless 
Major Software Tasks
March 17, 2010 10:32PM
Here's a really relevant point when it comes to wire and thread embedded extrusion: The STL file format is highly insufficient.

For our project, we're just going to hand-craft the G-code to print models with wires in them. To do this, we'll start with an STL file, G-codeify it, and then insert the relevant wire G-code by hand.

It's a labour-intensive, machine-specific process that's not fit for the future adoption of this printing technology. You wouldn't be able to upload a G-code file with wires in it to Thingiverse, for example.

What we ideally need is:
- A 3D file format that can support these structures. It could amount to a very simple modification of the STL format, actually; wires could be no more than polylines in 3D space, which would be very simple to represent and process (just a string of XYZ points, really).
- A 3D modelling program that will let you create and store polylines in a model. If you've used SolidWorks, it might be just a matter of creating 3D sketches to represent wires, in addition to the solid part. But we'll need open-source software that can do this, because SolidWorks won't let you reprogram it, and Dassault Systems is not likely to respond to our feature requests. winking smiley
I'd be surprised if Blender could do something like this. Perhaps we'll have to wait on the numerous open-source CAD programs to be released?
- A plug-in for slicing programs like Skeinforge and Host, to generate wire G-code from the polylines.

All three are quite significant tasks. The scope of the SpoolHead project is to create workable hardware and firmware for printing wires into parts. But you won't see parts with wires in them popping up on Thingiverse until these software tasks have been tackled.

Of course, if Reprap is to accomplish multi-material (or colour) printing at all, we're almost definitely going to have to move beyond the STL format. It might be a good idea to start thinking of what's going to replace it. So I, for one, would nominate 3D polylines be considered as an important feature.

Re: Major Software Tasks
March 18, 2010 12:14AM

What did Lipsker say?

-Sebastien, RepRap.org library gnome.

Remember, you're all RepRap developers (once you've joined the super-secret developer mailing list), and the wiki, RepRap.org, [reprap.org] is for everyone and everything! grinning smiley
Re: Major Software Tasks
March 18, 2010 02:31AM
Oh! Good question! We've just been discussing hardware until now. I'll ask him.
Re: Major Software Tasks
March 20, 2010 05:48AM
GTS format has had some interest as a replacement for STL. STL is very primitive- just a list of triangles in 3d space. GTS at least has colour (think different materials) but I don't know anything about it apart from that.

Wooden Mendel
Teacup Firmware
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