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  1. #1
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    Plywood Supports

    I know there are ways to make supports out of water soluble filament that then are washed away and the final product stands alone.

    What if I have an area to be supported more along the lines of 6"x12" at 1/2" lift. Can I use a sheet of 1/2" plywood (acknowledging the dimensional variations of 1/2" nominal and assuming I can accept that in the final result)?
    Cut it to the proper shape, wrap the sucker in wax paper or coat it with purple elmers or something?
    Print and just tell the print head there is a mass there somehow?

    What do you think?
    Am I barking up a tree after a long gone 'coon?

    How would you solve the challenge?

    Para

  2. #2
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    Para, I read it a few times and my challenge is understanding what you need here. Are you printing this support upside down?

  3. #3
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    Good morning Para and ShuttleSpace,

    I think what Para is wanting to know is if you were to print something, like a tupperware container (without the lid) turned upside down in your machine, could you put a piece of wood into the area that is open in the center after the walls were printed and then print the bottom of the tubberware container on top the wood. Did I get that right Para?

    I think his objective would be to avoid using support material or to be able to print an item like this when a 3D Printer doesn't have support material capabilities. Clever idea actually.

    On my Stratasys Fortus machine I can pause a print anywhere I'd like and insert something, like a metal part or pc board, into the machine and then continue printing. I've never tried what Para is talking about. I'd have to check the software to see if the support structure, which the software automatically creates, can be altered or removed. I'm pretty sure it can be but I'm not 100% on that.

    I think it's going to depend on how sophisticated the 3D Printers software is and whether prints can be easily modified.

    Have a terrific day!
    Robert
    3D Accuracy
    3D ACCURACY Blog / Website | Direct Digital Manufacturing / Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing
    Last edited by 3D Accuracy; 01-22-2014 at 12:41 PM.

  4. #4
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    Robert,
    You've nailed it. I had been envisioning starting with the piece of wood in place, but I suspect you're right about needing the space for print head to get down for the walls.

    I wasn't thinking so much about a printer not capable of a support material but more of a design where an uneconomical amount of support material is required. The tupperware example is really good for this, as a larger piece could easily need a 4x4x6 support in the middle if the depth and width are to be 4 inches and the piece 6 inches long. The soluble support would need to be a large portion of that space which I imagine adds an enormous amount of time and cost to a print where a chunk of wood would do.

    I hadn't thought about the software for the printer being a limiting factor. We would need to inform it that the print bed was non-flat and where the supports are.
    I guess the placement of the support piece would also need to be very precise, which could be achieved with a properly designed wall layout.

    What happens if your printer is not given the filament for the support material? If the software is incapable of not-supporting, can we 'fool' it by allowing it to 'print' an imaginary support with no filament and then place the wood where the support should be once it is done with that section of the print?

    Para

  5. #5
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    Good morning Para,

    A Tupperware container would actually be printed with the bottom of the container sitting on the build table, not the other way around as indicated in my example. I was just trying to convey the idea of what you were questioning. There are occasions however when this type of situation does come up.

    Printed right side up, the Tupperware container would not require any support material in the center but it would around the outside in order to print the "lip" that many containers have.

    The print head can't work around an object placed on the build platform, so you'd have to print the walls first, pause the print, insert the block of wood and then continue the print. It would have to be flat and parallel to the build platform otherwise your obstructing the path of the print head. To my knowledge the software can't be told to avoid something sticking up above the build layer.

    I've never tried running my printer without the support material. I don't know if there are any sensors that would prohibit this.

    The thing to consider also is that many parts have geometry that is not square or rectangular in shape. A Tupperware containers sides are not flat, they are on an arc. If you were going to place a wood block into the print in place of the support material you'd have to precisely match the shape to create a successful print.

    I think it could be a lot more time, effort and headaches trying to do this than to simply let the 3D Printer use the support material. Usually the cost of the support material isn't a problem, it's the build time to place it into the print.

    Have a terrific day!
    Robert
    3D Accuracy
    3D ACCURACY Blog / Website | Direct Digital Manufacturing / Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing

  6. #6
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    Teaching the software about the obstruction on the platform isn't enough, would have to teach the software about the size and shape of the extrusion head and even then, can't work up the sides of the obstruction without a very long nozzle, which would be a nightmare to keep hot enough to work without overheating at some point.
    I think you've convinced me that the plan might cost more than I could possibly save in support material and time.

    I did figure that the tupperware would be printed the way you described, but as a visual I thought it was particularly strong.

    Para

  7. #7
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    I've been working on a project for someone making a deep box shape which could be compared to a Tupperware shape that was described earlier. Since it's a prototype part that the designer wants for checking general fitment and overall aesthetics I have just been slicing his models apart and printing the sides flat to the table. The model exceeded my 11" x 11" build table anyway so cutting had to be done. All it has to print now is a thin support under the mostly flat model sides and bottom instead of huge pyramid shaped support structures. Once all the sides and bottom are printed I just epoxy them together and trim off the excess glue. On some locations I add tabs sticking out of 1 part and on it's mating part I cut a slot into the model, that way I can give it a lot more surface area for glue without changing the final geometry.

  8. #8
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    Interesting approach. I dont know of any slicing software that would allow this. Like others stated even if you could tell it another mass is there you would still have issues with the head not having enough clearance. This is assuming you support is going to support the whole object. I would try to break the print up and piece together after or pause the print just before the support is needed and insert it.

  9. #9
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    Hey,

    We have flat 15% off on our printers.

    Pricing may vary because of our clients' awesome requirements and hence we would love to have a chat with you to understand your requirements in detail and assist you with the best solution at the best price.


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