These of you who attended the 2011 Pointwise Consumer Group Assembly could do not forget that our firm president, John Chawner, talked about throughout his closing statements how good it might be to have the flexibility to print your grids in 3D. That was greater than only a dreamy, “what if” assertion. It’s a actuality!
A Little Historical past
3D-Printed F-16 Ahead Fuselage
I’ve all the time been fascinated with 3D printing. My first publicity to it was greater than 20 years in the past after I labored at Common Dynamics Fort Value Division (now Lockheed). Again then, I created an interface from our proprietary desktop CAD utility to the then-inaugural 3D Methods printers.
I nonetheless have the primary F-16 ahead fuselage mannequin I printed to check their printer’s capabilities. This mannequin included the F-16’s Gatling gun, ammo cans, uncovered radar array, and electronics bays!
Nothing Higher to Do
Whereas reminiscing about my 3D printing glory days one (idle) weekend final 12 months, I discovered myself questioning if I may use Pointwise’s Plugin SDK to export a file appropriate for 3D printing. After some psychological evaluation and jotting down some concepts on the again of some napkins (each nice thought includes a serviette), I made a decision the reply was sure. A lot to my spouse’s amusement, I spent that complete weekend creating the Pointwise Print 3D plugin.
The place We Are At this time
The Print 3D plugin is absolutely purposeful. Throughout export, it converts a grid to a printable stable mannequin by inflating every cell edge right into a cylinder. Edges shared by a number of cells are solely exported as soon as. To extend overlap on the grid factors, every cylinder’s size is elevated by 1/2 radius in every path.
Boundary and Situation Sort Mixture Matrix
Along with the geometric output. There are three boundary-condition sorts and three volume-condition sorts supported. These sorts management which edges are transformed to cylinders or are hidden.
- mesh – thicken the boundary or quantity edges in output
- hidden – exclude boundary or quantity edges from output
- stable – thicken the boundary or quantity edges in output. If a boundary, additionally thicken the tris and quads to kind a stable wall.
I Mentioned “Virtually”
In true Murphy model, that preliminary weekend of pc time has since mushroomed into many extra extra hours of constructing check grids, exporting STL information, and importing them to Shapeways, my 3D printing service. Most of this was performed to assist debug points that prevented me from acquiring a profitable 3D print.
As finest as I can inform, the information exported by the Print 3D plugin push the 3D printing software program to the restrict. I usually am pissed off when the exported fashions are rejected by the printing service. If the grid will not be rejected, the printed half could also be lacking some items.
Typical STL information used for printing comprise a small variety of particular person, non-intersecting stable our bodies. As an example, an STL file for a series of three hyperlinks would comprise three distinct, water-tight our bodies. One for every hyperlink.
Intersecting edge cylinders on the nook of a block
Nevertheless, because of the nature of the grid-to-STL conversion course of used within the plugin, a typical Print 3D file exported from Pointwise comprise hundreds of small, particular person stable cylinders. By design, these cylinders intersect at their ends. This intersection is the glue that holds the items collectively within the completed half.
The present limitations of 3D printing expertise forestall the printing of most actual grids. The ingredient sizes for a typical, boundary-layer resolved grid are simply too small to print. The print machines even have a bodily restrict on the most important half that may be produced. Print providers might also restrict the utmost variety of sides allowed in a mannequin. This restrict determines the most important grid that may be printed.
As an example, the fabric I exploit when printing grids at Shapeways has a minimal wall thickness of 0.7mm, a most half measurement of 66 x 35 x 55cm, and a aspect rely restrict of not more than 1 million.
The Print 3D plugin exports edge cylinders utilizing a diameter of 0.9mm. This implies any grid cell smaller than 0.9mm can be misplaced within the stable blob shaped by the comparatively fats, 0.9mm edge cylinders.
3D Print of a Wing Part
Regardless of these limits, now we have been capable of print some enjoyable and attention-grabbing grid fashions. It is rather cool to carry the printed 3D grid in your hand! We’ve been brainstorming new concepts for learn how to finest use printed grids. Schooling? Trophies? Visualization instruments?
The place We Are Going
As 3D printing expertise improves, we hope to have the ability to incorporate post-processing knowledge (colour) again into the grid printing.
I’ve been on the lookout for different printing providers to see if now we have higher printing luck. My makes an attempt to contact Print3D for extra info have gone unanswered. I additionally lately discovered the Sculpteo printing service. Should you can advocate a 3D printing service, we’re listening.
We hope to incorporate the Print 3D plugin in an upcoming launch of Pointwise (sorry not v17.0). We’re nonetheless attempting to work out the kinks within the printing course of to offer a extra pleasant expertise.
Within the meantime, why do not you check out Pointwise and tell us how we might help you make higher grids? When you’ve got an thought of learn how to use the CAE Plugin SDK to output grid knowledge in a brand new and sudden manner, give it a shot and tell us the way it seems.
This text was initially authored by David Garlisch.