Design Engineering

Print Preview for 3D Printing

Mike McLeod   

Additive Manufacturing CAD/CAM/CAE 3D printing Additive Manufacturing Autodesk Autodesk Labs CAD STL

Autodesk Lab’s Project Miller tech demo provides detailed analysis and simulation of additive manufacturing results prior to actual 3D print.

13-oct-Autodesk-labs-miller-360Although, on its surface, additive manufacturing may look as simple as exporting an STL file and printing it or sending it off to a service bureau for processing, the fact is potentially problematic geometry can be hard to spot. Consequently, the 3D print of a broken or challenging model can fail half way through the job, making the whole prototyping project more costly than it’s worth.

To help cut down on needlessly wasted time and money, Autodesk Labs recently unveiled Project Miller, a free technology preview developed to improve results with 3D printing. Similar to its well-known 2D counterpart, this “3D print preview” application lets users inspect their model, visualize how it will print, identify problems during the simulated process and suggest how to fix difficulties if they arise.

Project Miller imports a number of common file formats including STL, 3DS, OBJ, OFF, PLY, LWO, TPF. In addition, Windows users can import DWG, DWF and FBX files while those using Autodesk Moldflow Design Link can import IPT, CATPART, PRT, IGS, X_T, X_B, SAT, SLDPRT, STP files.

Once imported into Project Miller, the no-cost application provides a number of tools to evaluate a model prior to 3D printing:


Result — View printing details such as feed rate, thickness or volume of extruded polymer, layer count and more
Visual — View the model with solids or lines
Animate — Watch how the model will be printed
Clipping — Create a planar cut to examine the interior of your model
Surface — If issues are detected, Miller’s Surface feature will help you re-surface your complex geometry and export an optimized 3D geometry (STL) for printing.
Mesh — Choose how to re-mesh your model

The stand-alone executable is available for either Windows or Mac OSX (10.7 or later) and will remain online until December 31, 2013 from the Autodesk Labs web site.


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