In a world where naysayers are constantly telling us to turn down, nothing is better than turning up Ember's build volume. We've seen all of the delicate features Ember can handle, but what about the other 100 millimeters? Well I'm here to show you that those leftover millimeters can be filled, because probably if you want one of something you want 50 right?
Step 1: Open Your STL Into Meshmixer
If you don't have Meshmixer get it here! Then click the import button and select your .stl. You should have your beautiful .stl in Meshmixer now. If your model is off center you can click Edit > Align and it will bring your model to the middle of the platform.
If you're printing to Ember be sure to flip Z/Y axis on import!
Step 2: Copy, Layout, Combine
Now that you have one object it's time to fill the build area. If the print bed displayed isn't Ember just click the Print button on the bottom of the left column. A new left column will appear and on the second row will be a printer name. Click it and select Autodesk Ember from the menu. Then just click the arrow pointing left in the top right corner of your screen and accept the dialog box.
To get lots of objects I select the part and the click Edit > Duplicate as many times as I think will fit on Ember. The object wont noticably change but in your Object Viewer (View > Show Objects Browser) you'll see copies are being made the copies are just being made in the exact same spot.
Now that you have copies click Analysis > Layout/Packing play with the settings until you like what's being displayed. If the objects wont all fit Meshmixer will place them in a separate bed (outlined in red boxes), you'll have to delete these extra ones. To delete an object select it then press the tiny trashcan button at the bottom of the Objects Browser.
For automatic support generation these all have to be combined into one body. Select them all then click Edit > Combine. If you want to separate them again Edit > Separate Shells. If the parts aren't centered on the platform Edit > Align will bring them back
Step 3: Duplicate, Transform, Combine, Repeat
Now you have an entire layer of parts! But we're going to fill in those extra 100 millimeters. Select your layer then Edit > Duplicate.
Now use the Transform tool by clicking Edit > Transform. Grab the arrow pointing up and move the copied layer upward above the first layer.
Now you have a choice, you can either repeat this step until your build volume is full or you can select these two layers then Edit > Combine then Duplicate the new body (now two layers) and gain layers exponentially! Either way once you're done go under Analysis > Units/Dimensions and make sure that you are within the build volume of your printer. The dimensions for Ember's build volume in Meshmixer is X:64mm Y:130mm Z:40mm. The next few steps take a long time so you don't want to find out in the end it's too big.
Now select all of your layers and press Edit > Combine that way Meshmixer will be able to generate supports automatically for us.
Step 4: Generate Supports
This is the hardest part. There a LOT of options for your supports. Select your part then Analysis > Overhangs. Some important things to consider:
- Since this part will be tall there will be more torque on the bottom bits when the resin tray rotates away. Consider using larger tip diameters and also bigger post diameters for beefier supports.
- If you don't want larger tip diameters creating blemishes on your part try playing with the Density setting, you can keep your small tips but with more supports to get the same stability.
- Another thing to play with is the "Allow Top Connections" check box under Advanced Support menu. This will let supports exist both on bottom and top of your bodies if that's allowable it usually generates more understandable supports so you can check for issues easier.
- Another option under Advanced Support is "Solid Min Offset" since there's so much going on supports will run really close to parts maybe too close. I always set this to 1 or more after having a pretty big mess with supports getting too close to my parts.
- You will have to remove all of these supports later so don't make your density too high or tips too wide otherwise it will take a really long time to clean your part.
After you've got your settings set, get ready to wait a really long time. Once you click Generate Supports Meshmixer is going to think really really really hard. So you should probably have something else to do. This will take some trial and error and experimenting all the way through printing. The picture with the colorful Spark Logos was my first attempt at support generation I had the Solid Min Tolerance too close, the Density way too high, and much too big tip diameters.
Step 5: Print!
This will be the big test to whether your support structure worked out all right. There are three big failure points.
- Your first layer of parts fails. This probably means that you have too small of a tip diameter or the density of supports is too low.
- The second layer of parts fails. Unless the initial layer is really tall I've found this is usually a density issue and can be mitigated by upping the density either by 5 or 10 (density units? I don't know what these numbers mean in Meshmixer).
- A very tall layer fails. If you're near the printer you can usually hear this failure start. Supports start snapping because of all the added torque on your fragile support structure. Increasing density can help with this so can increasing tip diameter, but if you don't want more blemishes or more supports to remove I would recommend increasing post diameter and playing with the Top Connections setting.
My first print with Spark Logos came out impossible to clean. There were just too many supports and many of them were attached to the parts at more than just the tip. My second attempt all but one printed. It was at the top and I was using 0.015 tip diameter supports so it likely just failed from the torque, if I increase the density a bit I could probably get it to come out. The first time I printed the gorillas they strangely came out half as thick as they were suppose to, but that was ok because I again had too many supports to remove and the tip diameter was leaving really big marks (0.04 tips). When I printed it with fewer supports and smaller tips I had 7 out of 12 layers of gorillas print. Tthese were at 100 micron layers if I went down to 25 they'd probably do better, but then I'd have to have patience.
Good luck with all your many many many parts!