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- When using a surface modeling program, only surfaces that form a closed object
can be 3D printed. The closed surface model must be converted into a solid object, which is described by the STL or, in certain cases, the VRML file.
Edit Units and Orientation
- Prior to building any geometry go to Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences.
- In the Settings section set the Up axis: to Z.
- Under Working Units, set Linear: to inch.
- Hit Save.
Surface Normal Direction
- Surface Normals must be pointing away from material that you wish to print and toward open space.
- If you have shelled your model, there will be one set of surface normals pointing to the exterior space and one set pointing toward the interior void.
- To view normal directions go to Display > Polygons > Face Normals.
- You can also shade normals by going to the viewport menu and selecting Shading > Smooth Shade All and then deselecting Lighting > Two Sided Lighting.
- To flip the normal directions of an entire poly model or a selection of individual poly faces, select Normals > Reverse.
- To fill mesh holes select the poly model and go to Mesh > Fill Hole.
- In order to better visualize the filled hole, select the new poly face and go to Mesh > Triangulate.
- To give "shell" thickness to an open polygonal model select the poly faces by using the Faces selection mode within the right-click menu.
- Select the Extrude icon from the Polygons Shelf Tab or go to Edit Mesh > Extrude in the Polygons Main Menu Bar.
- Visually drag the Manipulator Tool along the poly model's normal direction to give it thickness.
- You can also type in a specific dimension within the Attribute Editor under the polyExtrudeFace object tab.
- Always check Keep Faces Together to extrude by the model's normal direction instead of each poly face's individual normal direction.
- If you wish to extrude by a vector other than the normal vector manipulate the Local Direction vector settings.
- Though not a one-size-fits-all fix, Maya has a tool for mesh cleanup should it be necessary.
- Select a poly model and go to Mesh > Cleanup...
- Choose the desired options and click Cleanup.
Export as VRML
- By default, Maya is not set up to export an STL file so we'll need to export a VRML file instead.
- Go to Window > Settings/Preferences > Plug-in Manager.
- In the Plug-in Manager window navigate to the plug-in vrml2Export.mll and select Loaded and Auto load (for regular use).
- Hit Close.
- Select the geometry that you wish to export and go to File > Export Selection... ■.
- In the Export Selections Options window select vrml2 under File type:.
- Hit Export Selection.
- In the Export window name your file and hit Export.
- To reduce file size uncheck all File Type Specific Options as they're only necessary for color printing or animation purposes.
Import into ZPrint
- For powder printing, the file must be converted into a *.ZBD file.
- *.ZBD files are created by importing *.VRML files into the
ZPrint software, available on all DAAP CGC PC machines.
- Launch the ZPrint application.
- Importing CAD to ZPrint
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