Preparing an object for 3D printing

IceSL

IceSL [5] is probably the most intimidating of the applications you are seeing today. It also has the steepest learning curve. However, it is worth getting to know this slicer, because it comes with some features that make it unique.

You make all the adjustments for your print in the column on the left. You can define the type of printer you have in the Printer model drop-down and the size and orientation of your object under the Orientation and scale fold-down. Click on Settings (Figure 8) to see all the options that let you fine-tune every aspect of the print.

Figure 8: IceSL makes up for a lack of a friendly interface with options galore.

There are no toolbars, so you reach all the options from the menus at the top left of the window. Speaking of which, some of the most obvious features that makes IceSL different are the options hiding under the Effects menu. Among tools that are nifty but of dubious use (such as melting bits away from your object or adding "snow" or bumps), you'll find one that lets you paint different colors onto your model: the Paint brushes effect. This means that, if you have a 3D printer with multiple extruders, each extruder loaded with different types of filaments, you can actually print multicolored objects.

Pressing the Slice! button in the column on the right starts the slicing process and saves a G-code file to your system. When the process is over, IceSL will show the preview of the sliced object in the main window, along with a box with information on the print and sliders that let you see a cross section of the sliced object superimposed on your model (Figure 9).

Figure 9: A sliced object with two materials is superimposed over your model.

You can also create objects with two or more materials by loading STL files into different brushes. Click on File | Load stl on… | Brush 0. Navigate to the STL file containing the parts that needed printing in one material and load that. Then do the same choosing Brush 1 and loading a second STL containing the parts that need to be printed using the second material (Figure 10).

Figure 10: A classic benchy that will be printed with two different materials.

This allows you to not only print in a variety of colors, but also use filaments with different properties, like rigid and flexible filaments, or conducting and non-conducting materials. You can also assign different densities and shapes of the infill for each part.

We're going to stop here, but IceSL has much more going for it. In fact, to cover even a tenth of the features that IceSL brings to the game, we would probably need another couple of articles. Did you know, for example, that you could model your 3D objects directly in IceSL using scripts similar to those of OpenSCAD, but written in Lua? Well, you can. You can also configure the printing options in obsessive detail using the same language.

However, at this stage and at the end of the day, what you are trying to achieve is to get the object sliced and into a G-code file that won't collapse during the print. With what you have learned about IceSL here, you have enough to do that.

Conclusion

We are not totally done yet! Next time, we will look at the final steps in the printing process and what tools you can use to control the print while it is happening.

Until then, happy printing!

Infos

  1. "Using OpenSCAD to build custom 3D pieces" by Paul Brown, Linux Magazine, issue 223, June 2019, pp. 90-94, http://www.linux-magazine.com/Issues/2019/223/Tutorials-OpenSCAD
  2. "Technical 3D design using FreeCAD" by Paul Brown, Linux Magazine, issue 224, July 2019, pp. 90-95, http://www.linux-magazine.com/Issues/2019/224/Mother-of-Invention
  3. Cura: https://ultimaker.com/en/products/ultimaker-cura-software
  4. Slic3r: https://slic3r.org/
  5. IceSL: https://icesl.loria.fr/

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