Getting started with 3D printing: 10 Frequently Asked Questions
In September we launched our first 3D printer. The interest in this machine is great, but we have noticed that there are still quite a few questions about 3D printing in general. We have bundled the most frequently asked questions here and hope by answering them to help you get started.
1. Which software can I use to make 3D models?
There are a number of professional software packages available, each of which can be used in combination with the Roland ARM-10. If you do not have any prior experience with 3D modelling, you can master the basics with free programs such as Blender, Google SketchUp, TinkerCad and many others.
2. Can I use 3D files that I have downloaded from the Internet?
Yes, you can use 3D files that you find online. It is important, though, that you check the quality of the files before you start printing. Not all files are created equally. Also be sure to give your 3D design an adequate wall thickness, otherwise it cannot be printed. The design, however, does not have to be completely solid. Hollow objects can also be printed.
Several examples of websites where you can find 3D files are Thingiverse, Shapeways, GrabCad and 3D Marvels.
3. Which file types can I use?
You must save your digital 3D model as an STL file. STL is comparable to PDF and is a standard file type for 3D applications. The ‘monoFab Player’ software, which is supplied by Roland DG with its 3D printer, can load an STL file, divide it into layers (‘slice it’) and send it to the printer.
4. How do I know if my file is suitable for 3D printing?
monoFab Player indicates in red which zones contain errors. So, before printing, you must ensure that there are no more red zones. You can use the ‘healing’ function to repair these faults.
5. How precisely does the ARM-10 print?
The layers that the ARM-10 prints are a minimum of 0.05 mm high, which makes it possible to work with great detail. If you want to print with less precision (and therefore faster), you must adjust the layer height and the exposure time in the software.
6. How does the 3D printer build up the layers?
The ARM-10 lowers the construction platform into the material vat, which is filled with resin. The projector, which is underneath the material vat, exposes the shape of the first layer. This UV light cures the first layer of resin.
This resin layer sticks to the construction platform. The platform is then raised again, and the process is repeated. While the platform is being raised, the hardened layers are stacked on top of the previous layers. This is how your model is built up layer-by-layer.
7. How do I remove my model from the construction platform?
The monoFab Player software automatically places a structural aid with support bridges between your model and the construction platform. If you remove the model with the spatula provided with the printer, the model will detach without damage.
8. Can I use the model immediately after it has been printed?
First remove the outer layer (which is still ‘wet’) by cleaning the model with ethyl alcohol. Then let it dry briefly. After that, allow the model to cure completely in direct sunlight or under a UV lamp. Once it is cured, you can remove the supporting structure.
9. For what kinds of applications can I use the ARM-10?
The ARM-10 is the perfect machine for making prototypes. Are you a product designer, engineer, creative spirit or student, or are you just fascinated by the possibilities of 3D printing? Then the Roland ARM-10 is an extremely interesting investment for you.
10. How do I determine whether it is best to print or to mill a model?
There are various factors which determine which technique is best, and the decision depends on which of these factors you find most important. For example, is your priority precision, the degree of post-processing, material cost, material choice, design complexity or speed? We would be more than happy to help you make the right choice.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information. We are standing by to assist you.
(+45) 88 82 20 00
Are you interested in a 3D printing workshop? Let us know! We will keep you informed about our training programmes.