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Color 3D Printing

Posted by LGM | Wednesday, May 21st

Color 3D Printing

LGM offers the option to 3D print a given part in full CMYK color using a Zcorp 650 additive powder printer.  (Now renamed the 3D Systems Projet 660Pro).  The addition of color and the ability to use texture maps, opens up a world of possibilities to designers from in house form reviews to sales and marketing.  Color 3D printing can be a cost effective way to add an extra level of detail when leveraging your existing 3D CAD data.

As ground breaking as it can be, color 3D printing carries with it some caveats.  It is important to understand where color 3D Printing excels and where it falls short in order to get the full and best use of color.

Within architectural modeling (at the time of writing this) it is our opinion that color 3D printing will not be able to replace laser-cut, hand-painted and assembled  textured plastic when it comes to producing a photo-realistic model.  That said, color 3D printing is much faster and often less expensive, so it does have a place within our...


Exporting a model with Color and/or Texture Maps

Posted by LGM | Tuesday, May 20th

Exporting a model with Color and/or Texture Maps

3D Printing in Color can be difficult, especially the first time.  LGM accepts many native CAD formats and most color color file formats to make life easier, but we do need the files exported and sent in with all of the correct elements.  

The Basics

Format:  Color 3D printing requires particular file formats and each CAD package has different output options.  LGM makes life a lot easier here because we will accept OBJ, VRML, X3D, 3DS, Color STL (be careful here, most stl files do not contain color data), and in some cases you can simply save your model in the native format and send it over, but consult LGM first.  I fyou have an option to export your chosen file type as V1 V2 etc. choost the most recent (highest number)

Scale: You may have the option to apply a scale factor when exporting.  Your software may also change the scale of your model due to unit conversion that you are unaware of (mm to cm or similar).  Please verify the scale factor being implemented to make sure you...


Colors, Images, and Finish

Posted by LGM | Wednesday, May 14th

Colors: There will be a variance in the final part color compared to what you have in the CAD model in a color 3D print.  This is an unfortunate by product of the color printing process.  We cannot match colors exactly.

White: On a color model, any parts that are white will not a be a bright, stark "copy paper" white.  The white areas will have a slight yellow hue to them.  This is primarily due to the epoxy infiltrant.  On smaller parts, we use a CA infiltrant that does not have the yellow hint.

Bitmap Resolution: It has been our experience, that no matter how a color part is mapped, the process to get it print ready will decrease the overall image resolution.  For smaller parts, the bitmap images look fine.  On larger parts, the images tend to look more pixelated.  Please keep this in mind.

Clear coating:  If you have a color part, you can clear coat it with Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic.  A few coats of the gloss are required to make your part have a glossy finish.  Even though...


Mesh Resolution and File Size

Posted by LGM | Tuesday, May 13th

Sometimes LGM receives HUGE CAD files which make things run a lot slower and make it harder for us to help you get things done quickly.   Remember that the printers are effectively running at an effective 150 dpi.   The tiny triangles that make up a lot of the surfaces will not resolve in the final model.  Please reduce your part's triangle count before sending it to us.   (Please post if you can help provide direction on how to do this in Maya)  It is very rare that any model needs more than 2 million polygons or approximately 40mb as a VRML. 


Powder Evacuation

Posted by LGM | Tuesday, May 13th

All enclosed volumes need to have reasonable powder evacuation holes.  The loose, unprinted, powder needs to be removed from any enclosed volumes or that volume of material needs to be charged for.  A single 1/16" hole will not suffice for powder removal.  The larger the hole and/or, the higher the number of them, the better.  Because you are far more familiar with the design and design intent, you are more likely to place the holes in the most appropriate locations.  LGM can also place appropriately sized powder removal holes in your model, but that service will add to the cost of the model.


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