Dialing in materials and printers is a 3D printing chore. Sometimes it takes hours to develop optimal settings. Most of us change and dial in settings in a random or practiced way without much rhyme or reason. So far, there haven’t been specialized tools to help 3D printer operators, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and materials companies to develop the perfect settings for their printers and materials. This changes today with the release of 3DOptimizer by FabControl.
3DOptimzer is a dedicated tool for settings development, dialing in printers and materials, and print optimization. Meant for that user who wants perfect prints every time, including materials companies, OEMs, universities or people using printers for manufacturing, the tool helps you perfect your settings in an organized, coherent way. It takes haphazard dial-in strategies we all have, and, with a data-driven method, takes everyone through steps aimed toward successively better settings.
By performing a series of 12 tests, guided by the software, you can improve the settings of your Ultimaker, i3 or new untested 3D printer design. I’m still unsure how many individual users will end up using 3DOptimizer. Whereas the tool is perfect for materials companies and OEMs, will the rest of the desktop FDM crowd stick to their own methods?
Compatible with any Gcode based printer 3DOptimizer has a slick interface and seems easy to use. You can log into the tool at 3DOptimizer.com. It is free to use for seven days.
If you like the tool, you can pay $4.95 for one week’s subscription, just for when you need it or $14.95 for a monthly fee to use it all the time. The company also has business plans for universities and companies. You start by inputting your settings and defining what you’d like to optimize: mechanical strength, print speed or looks. You’ll then be able to, based on your goal and settings, download tests. Then run the test prints, inspect samples, and adjust parameters. Later, you can download the optimized slicing profiles for your printer, your material, your goal, and your outcome. These profiles can then be used in Simplify, Cura or other slicers.
The company claims that “With the mechanical strength target, you can get close to injection molding properties.” “The mechanical strength target helps to develop process parameters for printing the strongest parts achievable with a particular printer and material combination… Core settings are developed within a few hours and using only a few meters of filament, are tailored for for the particular machine and material.” The firm made 3DOptimizer to “help battle the number one issue with failed prints and bad results from 3D printers — wrong printing settings.”
Janis Grinhofs, co-founder of FabControl, said:
“We needed a systematic way to ‘make it work’ every time, and when we saw the first results from our software, we instantly knew it could help most users of open 3D printers spend less time on trial and error to “dial in” their setup. We know the pain—what it takes to achieve great results from FFF technology—what it takes to develop stable process parameters. You need to bring materials science, hands-on 3D printing, 3D printer hardware, and software experience together and do serious research into the FFF process. That’s quite rare, but that’s exactly what we have done. It’s good to hear from customers that it’s making their life easier.”
We asked Grinhofs to explain how 3DOptimizer could help users.
“It helps you get the printer working with tricky materials. It helps to get better prints. Eliminates the guesswork of fiddling with settings without any system and not getting results. It greatly reduces the time to basic printing settings.”
For whom did you make this tool?
“Users of open FFF printers that want more out of them, people who want better prints. If the machine is faulty (say, wrong head temp reading), we can still develop settings for it because this is not a simulation—it’s a series of practical experiments, that you do one by one and build up your parameters as you go.”
On what printers does it work?
“It works on filament printers that can read Gcode. The precondition is the bed must be level. If we cannot print first a layer test, we cannot help.”
3DOptimzer is a thoughtful tool that really is the first organized attempt to make developing settings for new printers, for R&D teams at printer manufacturers, testing teams at filament companies easier. It’s something that could help you find the perfect print faster. By making settings development and getting to that perfect print easier, it really could be a part of a lot of people’s 3D printing arsenal. Through an experimentation and real-world testing lead approach, it seems to get good results in a shorter time span than usual (at least for me). I don’t know how many people will end up using 3DOptimzer day by day, but especially for people working in developing new printers and materials, or those who print at very exacting standards, this is a great tool. You can try it out here.
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