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Start to Finish product

Posted by alnmike 
Start to Finish product
March 27, 2011 08:25PM
Hello everyone, this is my first post about 3D designing.

I have been looking through the information on the wiki and these forums for the past couple of days. Coming from a Mechanical engineering student with minimal knowledge of AutoCAD, and very basic programming skills (java, matlab), what exactly is the progression of events that lead to a final product?

If it makes it easier, can start backwards.

For instance:
1) Finished piece
2)Software that tells reprap how to behave while printing (G-code, skeinforge?)
3)Software that converts file for use in step 2 (Meshlab?)
4)Software that slices 3D image into layers and interprets how to move the machine
5)Software that imports from 6 to 4.
6) Software that is used to create the desired 3D model. (Blender/autocad/sketchup/solidworks?)

Right now, the information looks to be that complicated, and I hope its really a 2-3 step process.
Ive already got ideas on how to make the Reprap project better, I just need to get into the swing of things before I start spouting off useless information. This semester I ordered the BASIC Stamp Discovery Kit from parallax.com hoping that it will be a good first step to controlling servos and ultimately leading to understanding step 2 above. This summer I plan to have something put together that prints plastic.

Thank you for any input that would help sort the confusion.
Re: Start to Finish product
March 28, 2011 07:23AM
Roughly, the chain is as follows:

- Have a 3D model in STL format - about any CAD can export these

- Create a G-Code file which describes how the toolhead should move to get this part. This step is tricky and decides about build quality. RepRap Host, Skeinforge, Repsnapper.

- Send this file to the machine controller, which interprets the G-Code and moves the toolhead and controls the heater accordingly. Controller Electronics; Gen2, Gen3, Gen6, Gen7, RAMPS, ... Firmware for the Controller: FiveD, Teacup, Tonokip, ...

Generation 7 Electronics Teacup Firmware RepRap DIY
Re: Start to Finish product
March 28, 2011 03:49PM
OK, thank you very much, I thought the reprap host was the last step. I think my school uses Skeinforge, so ill use that and do further research on the STL modeling. My machine controller is the first thing that ill end up making. Glad its not a crazy 12 step process.

One more question, is there an easy program that does finite element analysis as part of the CAD program? My school has Ansys, but while I can use it, it is far from ideal, and I only know how to do 2d stuff right now.
Re: Start to Finish product
April 06, 2011 04:51PM
If you want cheap and easy to use/learn then there is Sketchup. Its a great program with alot of features and design tools. But its not as exact as some of the other programs that are out here.

Otherwise there is SolidWorks, Inventor and ACAD 3D (the 3D side of Auto Desk's: ACAD program which has a 3D feature but it can be a pain in the ass to learn). Each of those is great for industrial and mechanical type of work. There is also Blender which is a free 3D modeling program but it prolly isnt what your looking for.

As long as you have a valid college e-mail address you can download a copy of ACAD and Inventor for free through the student community that Auto Desk offers. http://students.autodesk.com/

SolidWorks also offers a free student version but its something that takes some digging on google to find. Otherwise its a great tool that offers the same level of detail as Inventor.

Good Luck!
Re: Start to Finish product
April 06, 2011 05:00PM
Thanks, ive been playing with solidworks, its very easy to learn for me, Ive been following some tutorials online. I also downloaded the files for prusa, and put a few of them into skeinforge and went through the entire cutpath. Now im just figuring out the best way to source all the parts.
I know this isnt the place for this question, but I figure I help the clutter by not posting more threads.
Im having a tough time figuring out the hot end. Im looking at the one on the wiki, [reprap.org] , but dont know where to buy almost every part heh.
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