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FUSION3 TIPS & TRICKSEXPORTING STL FILES FOR BEST 3D PRINTING QUALITY

UNDERSTANDING THE STL FORMAT

 

The STL format is the universal format historically (and currently employed) by FDM 3D printing technologies including Fusion3s’ 3D printers.

This format, uses a number of connected polygons / triangles to create the surface of your solid model. The number of triangles has a direct correlation to the effective quality (or the resolution of your part). However, the more triangles used, you also increase the size of the STL file.

 

Two concentric circles, representing a CAD model of a doughnut shape, and a series of triangles approximating the doughnut, representing how STL modeling works. (Source: Wikipedia)

STL file in Fusion3 REACTOR showing too few curves when exported.  Note how the rounded surface shows as a series of rectangular bevels.

If you export the file with too few polygons, the model will have visible flaws on its surface when printed. This will most likely appear either as triangles on a rounded surface or rectangular bevels on a curved

 

 

The reaction by most people is to export the file with as many polygons as possible. This is also not recommended. The FDM 3D printing process likely cannot recreate this level of detail and often the larger file size and details may cause the slicer software to work much more slowly and sometimes cause errors for either the printer or software as it attempts to handle levels of detail beyond its capability.

As with Goldilocks and the three bears, there is a “just right” level of detail for 3D printing.

As with Goldilocks and the three bears, there is a “just right” level of detail for 3D printing.  This amount of detail provides an amount of polygons sufficient for a 3D printer of the F410’s caliber to be able to create the part in high detail, but not overwhelm the printer’s software. As shown in the image on the right, rounded shapes appear smooth with a minimum of faceting.

STL file in Fusion3 REACTOR showing sufficient number of polygons to render the curve without overwhelming the software. The rounded surface now appears smooth.

EXPORTING STL FILES FROM SOLIDWORKS FOR BEST 3D PRINTING QUALITY

 

Most Fusion3 customers use SolidWorks. In the past, SolidWorks’ STL export filter using the “FINE” preset would generate excellent output. However, recently (as of January, 2021), we have found the level of detail to still be inadequate and below the level of detail our 3D printers are capable of.

Here are our recommended settings for exporting an STL file from SolidWorks for 3D printing on a Fusion3 3D printer (and accompanying screen shot):

File Format:  STL

Output as:
a.  ASCII
b. Unit: Millimeters

Resolution:
a.  Custom
b. Deviation: Tolerance 0.09584862mm
c. Angle 3.500 deg
d. Show STL info before saving
e. Define Maximum Facet Size (unchecked)
f. Preview Before Saviing File (unchecked)

Do no translate STL output data to positive space (unchecked)

Save all components of an assembly in a single file (unchecked)

Fusion3’s Recommended Settings for Exporting STL Files From Solidworks for Best 3D Printing Results

EXPORTING STL FILES FROM AUTODESK INVENTOR FOR BEST 3D PRINTING QUALITY

 

Before finalizing your export, select the Options tab. Select “High” resolution (faceting) for your model (High, Medium, Low and Custom) and check that your units are correct. The “High” setting will produce a large file size. Autodesk Inventor allows you to save both individual parts and assemblies in STL format, at all design levels.

To check your modifiers have been applied before exporting:

    1. Tools > Rebuild All (this ensures that the design data contains recent changes, and that it is not corrupt)
    2. File > Save Copy As > STL (.stl)
    3. Select High and click OK

      Note: To change the values associated with each of the resolution settings (High/Medium/Low) you need to edit the Windows registry.

Select IPro > Print > 3D Print Preview

Select Options and choose desired resolution and click OK

Within the preview window, select Save Copy As or Send to 3D Print Service

Save As type to STL File (*.stl)

EXPORTING STL FILES FROM AUTODESK FUSION360 FOR BEST 3D PRINTING QUALITY

 

Step 1.

Right click on a body in the workspace browser.

Select the “Save As STL” Command.

Step 2

Apply your settings to the body per the settings below.

    1. Format: Binary
    2. Structure: One File
    3. Preview Mesh: Checked
    4. Number of Triangles: (Calculated)
    5. Refinement Options: High
    6. Surface Deviation: .004479mm
    7. Normal Deviation: 10.00
    8. Maximum Edge Length: 89.58237mm
    9. Aspect Ratio: 21.50

 

Interested in seeing how the Fusion3 F410 can print your Solidworks, Inventor, or Fusion360 files?

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