Mar 14, 2017 | By Benedict

Open-source 3D printer company Prusa Research has added a Smooth Variable Layer Height (SVLH) feature to its Slic3r Prusa Edition G-code generator. The feature enables users to print certain areas of a print with specific layer heights, allowing for perfect, ridge-free sloping surfaces.

Selecting the layer height for a 3D printed object is usually a tradeoff between print quality and print time. Too low a print quality, and ugly layer lines will become visible in the printed part; too high, and you might fall asleep before printing is done. For many 3D printer users, choosing a layer height is therefore something of a compromise, choosing a resolution that is just high enough to make the object presentable, without it taking an age to print.

For certain 3D printed objects, however, there are further considerations. Consider a 3D printed part that has two distinct sections, one boxy and one round; the boxy area would not need a particularly fine layer height to achieve a perfect appearance, but the round area would begin to show an obvious “staircase effect” (visibility of individual layers) if not printed at a finer layer height. For objects like these, the maker must decide: do I print at a fine resolution, wasting time on the boxy area, or print at a low resolution, potentially spoiling the round area?

In these situations, the solution to the dilemma is the use of variable layer height, a (surprisingly rarely used) process that has just been incorporated into Slic3r Prusa Edition, the G-code generator for Prusa RepRap 3D printers. This feature involves 3D printing a single object with the layer height dynamically adjusting to certain areas of the object during printing. For tricky objects like the one mentioned in the previous paragraph, this variable layer height feature can trigger a fast, thick layer height for simple or straight areas of the object, changing smoothly to a finer layer height for curved or otherwise tricky areas.

With the new Smooth Variable Layer Height feature in Slic3r Prusa Edition, users can “paint” parts of a 3D object that require extra detail. The software will then automatically turn this information into 3D printer G-code, instructing the Prusa 3D printer to adjust the layer height throughout the print. Best of all, the adjustment between layer heights is smooth and gradual, which prevents the appearance of any unnatural jump in quality. “The smoothing is very important and is not present in any other FFF slicing software,” said Josef Průša, founder of Prusa Research. “Without it, the layer height jump is very visible and defeats the effect of smoother surfaces.”

While it was previously possible to manually instruct a 3D printer to print at a variable layer height, the new SVLH feature for Prusa 3D printer users should make the process a great deal easier and more intuitive. This will make smooth, high-quality objects printable in a shorter space of time than ever before, for 3D printer users of any skill level.

Other features included with the new Prusa Slic3r, which will be bundled with Prusa's 1.7.6 drivers, include a revamped supports process; supports will now be generated on the grid, saving time and reducing G-code size. Another addition is a “Slicing info” box, showing the amount of filament used and its cost, that will appear after G-code is generated.

“We continue to work on making the Slic3r Prusa Edition the best slicing engine and are happy for any feedback you send us,” Průša added.



Posted in 3D Software



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Wes wrote at 3/16/2017 2:42:19 PM:

This is a nice feature for marking the areas where you want higher resolution. Would sure beat having to go into the Advance Feature and making different layer processes for the parts.

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