Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Converting 3MF Files to STL

When I create new items in Google Sketchup, they sometimes have holes in them when I export them as STereoLitography or STL files, as such I usually make use of the Microsoft repair service on Azure.

This allows you to upload an STL file, the site will repair the holes and then allow you to download a repaired STL file of your model.

Unfortunately, Microsoft being Microsoft, along with a bunch of other big companies decided they wanted to use a file format that had Digital Rights Management DRM encoded into them and so the 3MF file format was born.

At some time in the recent past, Microsoft updated their repair service so it now only exports 3MF files - great - let's stuff the free community!

Repetier Host, Slic3r, etc do not support the 3MF format, although Cura does, but only because the people that write it - Ultimaker are part of the 3MF Consortium.

Windows 8 and 10 users can use the Microsoft App 3D Builder to convert their 3MF files back to STL format, however I don't have any Windows machines and only use a Mac, so I need to look a bit further afield.

So I go looking for a potential solution, and find one on released on GitHub by Charles Shapiro called 3mf2stl.

This is intended as a Linux solution to the problem, but I see no reason why it should not also work on a Mac as this is also Unix based.

I download the source code, extract it and type 'make' in the top level directory (OK, so it only has a top level).

First stumbling block is that it requires libzip - no problem, that is available via the App store and is a pretty simple command line install.

Second stumbling block, libzip won't actually install because my version of Xcode is out of date and I need to update to 8.1.

Third stumbling block, after waiting the best part of an hour for Xcode to upgrade itself, libzip will now install, however the make file is still not finding zip.h from /usr/local/include.

This requires re-installing the Xcode command line utilities by running 'xcode-select --install' at the command line.

Fourth stumbling block, now make can find zip.h, however it now barfs about zipconf.h, which is not actually held in /usr/local/include.

This is fixed by creating a link to its real location - 'cd /usr/local/include; ln -s ../Cellar/libzip/1.1.2/lib/libzip/include/zipconf.h'

This time make runs through cleanly and produces an executable - 3mf2stl, which I then copy to /usr/local/bin.

Now I can convert my 3MF files to STL by running: 3mf2stl -i <input file> -o <output file>

Halloween 2016

Following on from last year, I wanted to print a few more spooky items.

I bought a 1kg reel of 1.75mm glow-in-the-dark filament from ebay seller etang_uk for £11.99 with free shipping.
I then used this to print a couple of Cute hug me Ghosts from Thingiverse:
First I printed one at 100%, then I printed a second one at 155%, so it could wear the Microsoft Witches Hat from Thingiverse, that I printed in black.
Here are my ghosts:
I then decided to print a couple of the Skeletonz from Thingiverse:
Unfortunately, my heated bed was not as level as it might have been and the one on the right ended up with fused leg joints.

These weren't the easiest of items to remove from the bed either - I ended up using a plastic ruler to swipe sideways against them to detach them form the bed.

Friday, 28 October 2016

TCT Show 2016

One of the main items I was wanting to see this year was the new HP printer that uses inkjet technology to print, unfortunately, it seemed that the machine was in pieces and also that I actually knew more about the machine than the HP representatives on the stand!
 Here is an interesting Prusa I3 on Josef Prusa's Prusa3D stand with 4 extruders.
 This delta printer had an interesting carriage design
 and also used silicone tubing to suspend the extruder motor above the extruder.
The big brother of this printer was huge - you can actually see peoples feet next to it to give you an idea of the size of this thing, no it is not a perspective thing, this printer is actually standing on the floor and it was printing directly from pellets:
The Zortrax superhero and his new bike (in the background), both printed on Zortrax printers.
A prototype STL printer on the RepRapWorld stand
A very interesting printer made from a pair of Ikea tables on the Printtable stand (unfortunately I did not win this printer in their raffle)