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Rhino 4 Essential Training

Exporting to the STL format for 3D printing


From:

Rhino 4 Essential Training

with Dave Schultze

Video: Exporting to the STL format for 3D printing

In this video, we'll take our robot arm and review the steps required to send out a file for prototyping. Our goal is to export the 3D data to a file format called STL, which stands for Stereolithography. This term is used for both the machine and the process. This is a very cool machine. It will build your model using a laser and liquid resin. A quick recap, a NURBS model is by definition very smooth. This is great to edit and design and visualize, but it's not intended for prototyping. Instead, we're going to create a polygonal mesh and then save that mesh in the STL file format.
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  1. 4m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 1s
    2. Using the exercise files
      28s
    3. Recommended hardware
      2m 44s
  2. 19m 8s
    1. Understanding the three types of entities: curves, surfaces, and solids
      5m 51s
    2. Comparing Bezier curves, B-splines, and NURBS objects
      3m 35s
    3. Comparing isocurve surfaces and mesh surfaces
      4m 50s
    4. Setting measurement units and tolerance
      4m 52s
  3. 18m 16s
    1. Introducing the viewport
      3m 20s
    2. Using construction planes to anchor model design
      5m 27s
    3. Changing the way a model is viewed using shading modes
      3m 11s
    4. Navigating the viewport with pan, zoom, rotate, and reset controls
      3m 24s
    5. Exploring help options
      2m 54s
  4. 29m 48s
    1. Understanding Rhino's command philosophy
      3m 10s
    2. Using toolbars and docking buttons to a toolbar
      3m 33s
    3. Navigating the geometry menus using a "department store" analogy
      3m 35s
    4. Using the command line and status bar to get feedback
      4m 56s
    5. Modifying the nudge control and setting other preferences
      6m 54s
    6. Using the Properties window
      3m 1s
    7. Opening and saving files
      4m 39s
  5. 14m 24s
    1. Creating basic objects: curves, surfaces, and solids
      4m 22s
    2. Performing basic transformations
      3m 14s
    3. Selecting objects
      3m 37s
    4. Organizing a project using layers
      3m 11s
  6. 21m 18s
    1. Understanding lines and polylines
      4m 10s
    2. Building rectangles and polygons
      5m 12s
    3. Creating arcs, circles, and ellipses
      7m 8s
    4. Drawing freeform curves
      4m 48s
  7. 47m 36s
    1. Comparing different types of 3D surfaces
      7m 11s
    2. Extruding surfaces to create features in a model
      8m 58s
    3. Creating surfaces with lofts
      7m 49s
    4. Using Revolve and Rail Revolve to create surfaces
      7m 42s
    5. Using Sweep Rail to create a 3D claw
      7m 49s
    6. Creating complex surface shapes using Network Surface
      8m 7s
  8. 46m 48s
    1. Introducing solids
      5m 42s
    2. Making solids with primitives
      5m 41s
    3. Extruding curves to create solids without primitives
      8m 59s
    4. Creating unique shapes with the union, difference, and intersection Boolean operators
      6m 46s
    5. Troubleshooting solids and Booleans
      8m 53s
    6. Editing with the solid edit tools
      6m 20s
    7. Creating and transforming holes in solids
      4m 27s
  9. 27m 8s
    1. Understanding Rhino's modeling aids
      3m 59s
    2. Working with the Grid Snap modeling aid
      2m 22s
    3. Using the Ortho modeling aid
      3m 4s
    4. Using the Planar modeling aid
      2m 4s
    5. Incorporating the Osnap modeling aid into your workflow
      6m 7s
    6. Understanding the Project and Smart Track modeling aids
      4m 42s
    7. Setting cursor constraints
      4m 50s
  10. 50m 14s
    1. Editing corners with Fillet and Chamfer
      7m 38s
    2. Trimming and splitting with curve Booleans
      5m 37s
    3. Moving and rotating objects with the Drag and Nudge tools
      7m 24s
    4. Copying and pasting objects
      4m 10s
    5. Understanding how Rhino uses Undo and Redo
      3m 42s
    6. Grouping objects
      3m 21s
    7. Scaling objects
      6m 40s
    8. Duplicating objects using the Mirror command
      6m 36s
    9. Making copies and structured sets using arrays
      5m 6s
  11. 20m 37s
    1. Using the Analysis toolbar to understand characteristics of a model
      6m 14s
    2. Defining degrees of curve and surfaces
      6m 6s
    3. Using Rebuild and Change Degree
      8m 17s
  12. 26m 21s
    1. Measuring and labeling values on a model using dimensioning
      5m 22s
    2. Creating screen captures for quick proofs
      5m 16s
    3. Creating 2D views of a 3D model
      6m 44s
    4. Rendering a project
      8m 59s
  13. 22m 5s
    1. Preparing a model for prototyping by confirming that all gaps are closed
      5m 17s
    2. Using the "shelling" technique to create wall thickness
      10m 54s
    3. Exporting to the STL format for 3D printing
      5m 54s
  14. 14s
    1. Goodbye
      14s

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Rhino 4 Essential Training
5h 48m Beginner Apr 08, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Rhino 4.0 Essential Training, author Dave Schultze shows how the 3D NURBS-based modeling tools in Rhino 4.0 are used to engineer products from toy robots to full-sized aircraft. This course concentrates on using Rhino 4.0 for industrial design and rapid prototyping, with a review of common 3D terminology using specific examples. Along with a comprehensive exploration of the Rhino interface, the course includes an introduction to building 3D objects with Rhino's three primary entities: the curve, the surface, and the solid. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Understanding 3D terminology
  • Viewing a 3D model in Rhino 4.0
  • Manipulating objects with commands
  • Creating curves, surfaces, and solids
  • Applying transformations to 3D objects
  • Creating unique shapes with Boolean operators
  • Snapping to objects and planes
  • Defining curve and surface degree
  • Prototyping a 3D model
Subjects:
Architecture Modeling Product Design CAD 2D Drawing 3D Drawing
Software:
Rhino
Author:
Dave Schultze

Exporting to the STL format for 3D printing

In this video, we'll take our robot arm and review the steps required to send out a file for prototyping. Our goal is to export the 3D data to a file format called STL, which stands for Stereolithography. This term is used for both the machine and the process. This is a very cool machine. It will build your model using a laser and liquid resin. A quick recap, a NURBS model is by definition very smooth. This is great to edit and design and visualize, but it's not intended for prototyping. Instead, we're going to create a polygonal mesh and then save that mesh in the STL file format.

Now Rhino has a direct way to do this via the File > Export Selected, which will generate a mesh and export it, but I feel that you lose too much control. So, I'm going to add one extra step. We'll kind of do a quality control, review the geometry before it goes out and then save it, of course, if it passes the test. Let's turn off the robot. Focus on the arm. Now another reminder here. We've already verified that this entire model is closed and clean via some of the strategies discussed earlier. Okay.

Let's take a visit to a brand- new menu. It's called Mesh. There are lots of options here. We're going to just pick the first one available. Mesh > From NURBS Object. We're going to select this entire object here, right-click and switch over to Simple Controls, which is usually the default. So, this process, just to make it a little more clear to understand, I'm going to crank it down. We can do a preview. Sometimes, it's hard to tell what's going on because this mesh is generated right on top of the NURBS object. I'm going to leave it as acceptable and hit OK.

Now to analyze this, we're going to have to select the mesh. I'm just going to nudge it over a few places and we'll take a look at what we got. Right off the bat, you can probably tell that's not what we're wanting to do here. This has got a lot of large facets. There are also some problem areas here as circle is turned into a square. We've got all sorts of pinching and puckering all over the place, but this is good to check out the difference between a NURBS surface and a polygonal mesh.

This is not all that editable. In fact, we probably wouldn't want to touch it. However, you can't turn control points on, as you can quickly see, there is nothing you'd want to mess with. So, we're going to go ahead and turn the control points off, delete it. We're going to do this one more time in higher setting. So, I'm going to select the object one more time. Go to Mesh > From NURBS. We're going to go quite a bit higher to the opposite end. Check the Preview button. This is actually looking much better. I'm going to go a little bit further.

I'm going to select the mesh. I'm going to nudge it over for inspection. I'm going to use the Zoom Selected button here. Now we can see that this is much more round. You don't have any pinching on these interior spots. That's still round, to have--- nope! That looks pretty good. So, the question always arises, how dense should I make the mesh? Well, if it's going to appear solid black in your viewport, that's too dense. At some point, you've got to remember that the tolerance of the machinery, the Stereolithography machine, it can only builds things to a certain size.

If you've way below that, you're just doing unnecessary detail that it cannot capture. Let's say that this has passed the inspection. I'm going to mention one more thing, just in case there were any problem areas. This is where you'd catch that. Occasionally, we'll see surfaces or polygons flipped, turned inside out, or just missing. So, that's your opportunity to fix that file, in which case, I recommend just throwing this whole mesh away and addressing whatever part was causing the problems, and then just building the mesh one more time.

It's ready for export. I'm going to select. I'm going over to the File > Export Selected option. Call this the robo arm. One great thing about Rhino is it has got a million formats you can export to. For this, we're going to pick Stereolithography, go ahead and click Save. I'm just going to accept the defaults here. So, if I were to skip these steps of generating the mesh and reviewing and regenerating, I might have missed some error, because what happens is that mesh would get exported all in one step, and I'd be left just with this NURBS surface.

Any problems would be in an external file that I might not catch, and that could be a potential problem if you're on a tight deadline. I'm going to jump over to the folder and do another couple of recommended steps. Here is my exports folder. Here is the Rhino file. Notice the size gets considerably smaller. That's because the polygons don't have that much data. It's a lot of points, yes, but since it's no longer editable, it does tend to be quite a bit smaller. However, this is a critical step I'm going to mention. I'm going to go ahead and ZIP this. If you're going to send this out to a prototype service bureau, you can potentially have errors creeping into the data.

So, it wouldn't make a difference on most file formats, but this you might actually have a seam open up or have a problem which would prevent it from being built at all. So, it's simple to solve just by compressing it into a ZIP format. Notice the file sizes get considerably smaller each step. So, this is almost 7 megabyte Rhino file is under 1 megabyte. It's a third of that size when we ZIP it. So, that is ready to be sent out. So, here is the custom robot arm we just finished modeling and exporting.

For something of this size and complexity, the service bureau would print it out within a few days. Parts like this will be used for testing or reviews prior to manufacturing. However, many prototype parts do not get manufactured. They're used to find problems before a million parts are made or just to make a single custom paperweight for your desk.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Rhino 4 Essential Training.


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Q: I'm noticing several differences between the options that author shows in the video and my copy of Rhino. For example, I can't select curves on the edge of a surface or turn on control point when vertically extruding a closed surface like an ellipse. Also, I do not get the Sweep option. I'm running on Mac OS X Snow Leopard.
A: This course was recorded on a Windows computer. As of February 2012, Rhino for Mac is still in beta, so it is not yet a full-fledged product. Wait until the full version comes out to see if these issues are resolved.
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