I'm in the market to buy a 3D printer for our company so we

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(Michael Williams) #1

I’m in the market to buy a 3D printer for our company so we can give clients models of our structures upon completion but I’ve contacted a few local companies and had no luck with whether its possible to produce. Has anyone got any experience of producing structural steel models around 400200200mm of structures similar to the attached picture, Note we would take these models straight from the Tekla Structures software.

Thanks in advance, any help would be much appreciated.

(ThantiK) #2

You’re going to have to scale that much larger for those beams, floors, etc to be thick enough for even professional grade printers to print. You need at least 1-2mm thickness, and that’s at a minimum. I sure as hell wouldn’t even dream of 3D printing this, in nearly any format.

(Michael Williams) #3

Haha thank you for the frank advise. We could surface the model with the glazing and cladding and remove the structural elements to simplify the end product. Would this still be an option even if it where made up of multiple prints? There are two large unsupported members. I would also be interested to see if the software was compatible but I’ve had no luck on that front either.

(Joe Spanier) #4

Small structures like that will be very difficult on any FDM or FFF printer. You will likely want to look into one of the SLA printers like the Muve3D or Form1 or littleSLA to get the kind of fine detail those structures will need.

(ThantiK) #5

That would certainly be an option. The software may have to deal with intersecting faces, and generally that can be repaired automatically. As far as the two large unsupported members, do you have a faux floor layer that can be added? My guess is that those layers are ground-level, and the large posts are anchored into the ground. That would help structural rigidity and help printability.

(Michael Williams) #6

We would take off the piers which anchor into the ground for the finished model. The two overpass sections are supported by large concrete beams. Do all printers have the support structures that can be removed for these spans?

(Joe Spanier) #7

The concrete piers are the most printable parts lol. Yes most softwares will build support structures for you. But all of the green rails, Those are basically not printable, maybe not even in SLA.

(ThantiK) #8

Not all printers have the support structures. If you’re going want support material a lot of the time, you’re probably going to want to look at printers other than what this community focuses on. A binder-based printer such as an Objet, is likely what you’re going to look at. You don’t want FDM/FFF for this.

(Evan Nguyen) #9

I’ve printed similar architectural models for a client. We ended up printing only the structural portions and used thin rods to simulate the rest of the model. One other option we explored was to modify the model into a complete solid and print in 2 colors. The empty space would be printed using a clear or translucent filament to provide contrast and support.

(Chris Thompson) #10

You need to prepare your model for any sort of fabrication.

(Liam Jackson) #11

It would be worth paying someone with the printer to print one of these out to give you a rough idea of how they’d come out before you settle on a printer. I also think SLA is worth a try having seen some of the Form1 prints on here.

(ThantiK) #12

@Liam_Jackson , only reason I didn’t mention SLA is that typically those machines are rather small and unable to do multi-material/multi-color prints.

(Joe Spanier) #13

we have a 24x24xsomething SLA at work. The pro-level sla’s get pretty big. But your right about multi-color. The prints are much stronger then an objet though.

(Mark Fuller) #14

Objet transparent solid block with the model “suspended” inside.
Or slices printed on Mylar with UV-cure ink, then stacked and bonded together.
Any idea what export formats Tekla supports?

(Mark Fuller) #15

Then XML export is likely your best bet.

(Tom Sommerville) #16

Here’s a full-color alternative to the Objet: http://www.3dsystems.com/3d-printers/professional/projet-860pro

(Michael Williams) #17

Thanks for your input guys, tekla 20 can now also export into sketch up and then save as an obj file… Is this the best option?

(Michael Williams) #18

@ThantiK
I really appreciate all the input guys and I think we will look into this on return from our UK trip this month. The SLA Form1 printer looks good for detail but isn’t available yet in Australia.

Im thinking if I print the concrete structures first in 5 pieces to be assembled the same way they are in real scale that would be a good base. From there I could print the 3 lift shafts separately and the stair structures separately also this may work.
I think Anthony’s suggestion of reinstating the cladding and removing the structures would work better as there will be very little small parts involved if I go for the fully clad finished structure and remove the skeleton.

I think the suggestion of us preparing the model and then paying someone to print the first one is also a great idea just so we can see the results prior to buying a certain printer as I’m sure these are evolving at a significant rate in terms of build size, quality and accuracy.

Again thankyou for your help to all who took the time. I may be back in the not too distant future to call on your expertise once we have a printer on the go!

(3D Printing Systems) #19

Print this model using SLS, print volume of 320x320x600 has minimum wall thickness of 1mm and the powder is the support.

Printing this on a Form 1 will be incredibly difficult to remove the support material without breaking the model.

(Jeremiah Garrette) #20

Cool