3D Printing Software User Guide LT

PowerPack LT

General utilities to manage CAD data along with tools to validate parts for 3D Printing. Example tools include an overall 3D print check, slice preview, overhang and wall thickness analysis, and surface normals check.
3D Printing Tools

The 3D Printing tools provide a collection of tools to check and prepare a part for 3D Printing.

  • 3D Print Check

    The 3D Print Check tool checks a part for its print viability, displaying warnings or errors to the user. The checks include:

    Position Check

    The position check examines the extents of the part and verifies that the part is within the positive x,y,z coordinate system. Use the Auto Position tool to automatically position the part within the positive coordinate system.

    Facet Count Check

    Some 3D printing service bureaus, cannot process more than 1,000,000 facets. If you have more the 1,000,000 facets you may need to reduce the number of facets in your model. Some options include changing the solid to facet conversion or using the Facet Reduction command.

    Size Check

    If your model is too large or too small for standard 3D printers, a warning message is displayed. The too small message warning is displayed if the model is less than 0.3 x 0.3 x 0.3 cm.

    Closed and Water Tight Check

    A 3D printer must have a closed volume to print. If your model is detected to have open edges an Error alert is displayed.

    To find your open edges, use the Find Open Edges command in the Mesh menu.

    Duplicated Facets

    This check examines each facet as unique in the model. If it finds another facet at the same position, an Error message is displayed. To correct this issue, use the Delete Duplicate Facets tool.

    Collapsed Facets

    A collapsed facet has no area. This check will inform you if the part has zero area facets.

    To correct Collapsed Facets, use the Remove Collapsed Facets command.

    Normals Check

    Facet normals define the inside and outside areas of your part. If some of your facet normals are pointing the wrong way, the 3D Printer may have problems creating the part.

    If you have a normals issue, there are several commands that can help you fix this problem. First use the Display Surface Normals tool to isolate inverted facets. Use the Fix Flip Normals to correct bad normals.

    Manifold Check

    Some solid modeling programs allow you to create non-manifold solids. A manifold part has exactly two facets connected to each edge. If an edge has one facet attached, then the edge is open and is detected by the Closed Water Tight Check. However it is possible for a model to have more than two facets connected to an edge. This check isolates those type of edges and reports as an error.

    Example: 3D Print Check

    1. Select the print definitions from the Printer menu.

    2. Press the Exit button to close out the dialog with the selected settings.

    3D Print Check
  • Surface Normals Check

    This tool performs a visual analysis of a part's surface normals. Facets displayed green have correct facet normals whereas red represent an improperly defined facet normal.

    3D Printing must have normals pointing away from the material.

    If you determine that the mesh contains improper surface normals use either the Fix Flipped Normals tool to auto repair an entire mesh or the Flip One Normal to specifically flip one facet normal.

    Example: Surface Normals Check

    1. Select the Surface Normals Check from the PowerPack Menu.

    2. Select any command to exit.

    Surface Normals Check
  • Overhang Analysis

    The Overhang Analysis tool provides a means to visually inspect modeling areas that may require structural support for 3D printing. Meshes, surfaces, and solids facets normals are compared to the work plane direction. Angles that are less or equal to 45 degrees are highlighted as red.

    Overhangs can still be printed if you apply appropriate support structure. To add support structure to an overhang, use the Support Structure tools of PowerPack.

    If you determine that the mesh contains improper surface normals use either the Fix Flipped Normals tool to auto repair an entire mesh or the Flip One Normal to specifically flip one facet normal.

    Example: Overhang Analysis

    1. Select the Overhang Analysis tool from the PowerPack Menu.

    2. The drawing window is updated showing red or green areas where red areas indicate a potential overhang issue.

    3. Select any command to exit.

    Overhang Analysis 1 Overhang Analysis 2
    Overhang Analysis 3 Overhang Analysis 4
    Overhang Analysis 5
  • Wall Thickness Analysis

    The Wall Thickness Analysis tool provides a means to visually inspect modeling areas that may be too thin for 3D printing. Meshes, surfaces, and solids facets are examined using ray intersections.

    Example: Wall Thickness Analysis

    1. Select the Wall Thickness Analysis from the PowerPack Menu.

    2. Select any command to exit.

  • Preview Slices

    The Preview Slices tool provides a user interface to slice models given a direction and thickness. The dialog box allows for animation through the slices as well as single stepping.

    One use of the Preview Slice tool is to verify a part has closed, non overlapping sections, a requirement for 3D printing.

    Slice Direction

    Defines the cut direction for slicing. For 3D Printing use the Z-Axis.

    For examining sections such as fuselage stations, use the X-Axis.

    #Steps

    Defines the number of slices through as function of the extents of the part.

    Thickness

    Specify the distance between steps as a thickness.

    Loop

    Continue looping through the slicing when the fore and aft extents are reached.

    Rebound

    After reaching the last step, start backwards from the current position.

    Play

    Start viewing slices.

    Save Slices

    The Save Slices… option provides several options to save slices to DXF, STL or add the results directly into the drawing.

    Example: Preview Slices

    1. Select the Preview Slices command from the PowerPack Menu.

    2. Specify the number of steps or thickness.

    3. Press the Play button.

    Preview Slices
  • Auto Position

    The Auto Position tool positions a collection of parts within the boundaries of the default print platform.

    Centered

    The selected parts are translated to the center of the print platform.

    Align From Facet

    The selected part is rotated and translated to the print platform center. The selected facet is used to align the part to the print platform.

    Optimal Packing

    The selected parts are distributed on the print platform such that the available space is optimally used.

    Example 1: Centered

    1. Select Auto Position from the PowerPack menu.

    2. Select the Centered option from the pull down menu.

    3. Select the objects to center.

    4. The objects are translated to the center of the default print platform.

    Example 1: Centered

    Example 2: Align From Facet

    1. Select Auto Position from the PowerPack menu.

    2. Select the Align From Facet option from the pull down menu.

    3. Select the facet to align to the printer platform.

    4. The objects are rotated and translated to the center of the default print.

    Example 2: Align From Facet Example 2: Align From Facet

    Example 3: Optimal Packing

    1. Select Auto Position from the PowerPack menu.

    2. Select the Optimal Packing option from the pull down menu.

    3. Select the objects to translate to the printer platform.

    4. The objects are translated into place within the boundaries of the specified print platform.

    Example 3: Optimal Packing Example 3: Optimal Packing
  • Support Structure

    The Support Structure provides a tool that manually adds geometry to support material as it is created by the 3D printer. Support structures controls include:

    • Attach Radius
    • Midpoint Radius
    • Base Radius
    • Base Thickness
    • Drag base and mid points to modify structure location

    Example: Support Structure

    1. Select Support Structure from the PowerPack menu.

    2. Specify location for starting point on the mesh.

  • Show Print Volume

    Toggles the boundary of the default 3D Printer. The volume is defined within the Printer Definitions dialog box.

    Example: Show Print Volume

    1. Select a 3D Printer definition from the PowerPack Printer Definitions dialog box.

    2. Select the Show Print Volume to display graphically the volume with the part.

    Example 3: Optimal Packing
  • Printer Definitions

    The Printer Definitions dialog box provides a means to set key parameters of the 3D printer. The parameters include the length, width, and height of the volume accessible by the printer. The parameters in the Printer Definitions dialog box are used for commands such as 3D Print Check and Auto Position.

    To show the Printer Build Volume, select the "Show Print Volume" option from PowerPack. This will display a graphically volume representing the printable volume for the given printer.

    Printer Settings

    Printer

    Select a printer definition file already defined from a menu.

    Length

    The maximum length along x accessible by the printer.

    Width

    The maximum width along y accessible by the printer.

    Height

    The maximum height along z accessible by the printer.

    Layer Resolution

    The height between print layers.

    Save

    Change the current settings to the Printer.

    Save As

    Change the settings and Save As a new printer definition.

    Delete

    Remove the existing Printer from the menu.

    Example: Set the default 3D Printer

    1. Select the print definitions from the Printer menu.

    2. Press the Exit button to close out the dialog with the selected settings.

General Utilities

A collection of tools for manipulating entity attributes.

  • Assorted Colors

    The Assorted Colors tool assigns up to 20 colors per group of entities selected. The tool is useful for visually identifying individual parts such as a file import.

    Example 1: Assorted Colors

    1. Select Assorted Colors tool from the PowerPack menu.

    2. Select entities to apply Assorted colors

    3. Entities colors updated.

    Example 1: Assorted Colors

    Example 2: Assorted Colors

    1. Select Assorted Colors tool from the PowerPack menu.

    2. Select entities to apply Assorted colors

    3. Select entities to apply Assorted colors

    4. Select entities to apply Assorted colors

    Repeatedly using on a set of entities will offset the start color for each selection, providing alternative color arrangements.

    Example 2: Assorted Colors

    Example 3: Assorted Colors

    1. Select Assorted Colors tool from the PowerPack menu.

    2. Select curves to apply Assorted colors

    The tool is also useful for visually identifying individual curves in a profile.

    Example 3: Assorted Colors
  • AutoLayer

    AutoLayer is a tool that will automatically assign an entity to a layer based on same shape or by entity name. Use AutoLayer to help organize files imported from other applications that do not support layering.

    By Name

    Creates a new layer for each of the selected entities and uses the entity name for the layer. If the name is shared, each entity is put into the same layer.

    By Same Shape

    Creates a new layer for entities that have the same shape. Entities with the same shape are placed in the common layer. Shape comparisons data include volume, area, length, width, height.

    Tip: Use the Separate all Parts if the imported file contains one mesh.

    Example 1: By Name

    1. Import an obj file that contains named elements

    Import an obj file that contains named elements

    2. Select Auto Layer from PowerPack

    3. Select all entities in the drawing

    4. Each entity is assigned layer where the layer name is the entity name.

    Each entity is assigned layer where the layer name is the entity name

    Example 2: By Same Shape

    1. Import a STL file that contains mesh elements with same shapes

    Import a STL file that contains mesh elements with same shapes

    2. Select Auto Layer from PowerPack

    3. Select all entities in the drawing

    4. New layers are created and populated with same shapes.

    New layers are created and populated with same shapes
  • Preview Layers

    The Preview Layers utility provides a user interface to rapidly step through layers. The play button will animate through the layer start and end region. The step forward and backward buttons manually provide control through the layers.

    Animate Layers

    Start

    The starting layer to animate.

    End

    The ending layer to animate

    Loop

    Continue to animate once the end layer is reached with the Start layer.

    Rebound

    Continue to animate once the end layer is reached with the End layer.

    Zoom Extents

    For each layer, zoom extents before the repaint.

    Play

    Start the animation display.

    Example: Preview Layers

    1. Select Preview Layers tool from the PowerPack menu.

    Example: Animate Layers
  • Change File Units

    There are many file formats that do not contain unit settings that include STL, OBJ, PLY, 3DS, and older DXF files. The Change File Units command allows you to quickly change a file scale based on Units or Scale Factor.

    Change File Units

    By Units

    Determines the scale factor by converting between units.

    Scale Factor

    Specify the scale factor by typing in a value in the edit conrol.

    Model Length
    Model Width
    Model Height

    Shows the model size if the Scale Factor is applied to the current drawing.

    Transform Y as Up Direction

    Rotates the model about the x-axis 90 degrees.

    Example 1: Change File Scale

    In the example below, a STL file is imported into the application where inches is the default units but the file was created in millimeters. The Change File Units dialog box show the model extents to be 137x63x12 inches, which is not consistent with an actual wrench. By setting the From Units to millimeters, the wrench is scaled to the correct size.

    1. Select the Change File Scale option from the PowerPack set of tools.

    2. Select Millimeters from the Units pull down.

    3. Select OK.

    4. Each entity in the file is scaled by the Scale Factor.

    Change File Units

    Example 2: Change File Scale

    In Another feature of the Change File Scale command is the ability to swap y and z. For example in the file below the model is transformed using the Transform Y as Up Direction option.

    1. Select the Change File Scale option from the PowerPack set of tools.

    2. Select the TransformY as Up Direction option.

    3. Select OK.

    4. Each entity in the file is rotated such that y is now z.

    Change File Scale Change File Scale
  • Show Only By Name

    The Show Only by Name tool displays just the entity with the provided name. This tool changes the Show/Hide flags of the entity.

    Example: Show Only By Name

    1. Select Show Only By Name tool from the PowerPack menu.

    2. In the Search dialog box, type in the string to search

    3. All entities with the string specified are displayed only

    In the example below all entries that include the string "Rear" are displayed. In the example illustrated below, fourteen objects are displayed.

    Search
    Car Rear
  • Rename

    The Rename tool provides a way to rename large number of entities. This tool is especially useful for renaming entities imported from external applications . For example, Inventor attaches the full assembly representation to the part name.

    Renaming supports two methods:

    Search and Replace

    Entity names containing the Search string are replaced with the Replace string.

    Search and Replace

    Common Shapes

    All entities sharing the same geometric shape are renamed to the same name. This is especially useful for creating Bill of Materials.

    Common Shapes

    Example: Rename

    1. Select Rename tool from the PowerPack menu.

    2. In the Rename dialog box, type in the string to rename.

    3. Click Ok to rename all entities.

    Example: Rename
    Example: Rename
    Example: Rename
  • Spell Check

    The Spell Check examines all visible text for possible misspellings and provides suggestions.

    Example: Spell Check

    1. Select the Spell Check option from the PowerPack set of tools.

    2. Each entity with potential spelling errors is displayed in the Word Check field.

    3. Select Change to update to the Suggested value.

    4. Select Find Next to proceed to the next entity.

    Example: Spell Check
  • Isolate Layer From Selection

    Sets the display and work layer from the selected objects.

    Example : Isolate Layer

    1. Select the Isolate Layer option from the PowerPack set of tools.

    2. Select an object.

    3. The display and contraction layers are updated to the selected object.