Playing With The Power Of Full G-Code Control

Slicing software needs to maintain a balance between ease-of-use and control, while handling handle any STL file you throw at it. If you eliminate the need to convert an existing 3D model, and create G-Code directly, you gain a lot of design freedom, at the cost of increased design effort. By taking advantage of this freedom and making it more accessible, [Andrew Gleadall] and [Dirk Leas] created the FullControl Design Library.

Each model is a mathematically generated extrusion path with a host of adjustable design parameters and print settings. This allows you to print things like a single-layer non-planar part, or 90° overhangs without any support (video after the break). The website was built using the python version of the original Excel-based FullControl Designer (unreleased at the time of writing), and threejs for the 3D visualization.

Go browse the library, play with some parameters and see what strikes your fancy. For ideas, help and updates, keep an eye on the FullControl Subreddit.

Full Printing Path Control Without Writing GCode

User-friendly slicing software is arguably the key software component that makes 3D printing approachable for most users. Without it going from a CAD design to a printing part would take hours, not seconds. As a trade-off you give up a lot of control over the exact path of the hotend, but most of the time it’s worth it. However, for some niche use-cases, having complete control over the tool path is necessary. Enter FullControl GCode Designer, a tool that gives you all the control without resorting to writing GCode directly.

FullControl takes an approach similar to OpenSCAD, where you define path geometries line by line. Need an array of circles? Choose the circle feature, define its origin, radius, starting position, and extrusion height, and define the spacing and axes (including Z) of the copies. Need a mathematically defined lamp shade? Define the functions, and FullControl generates the GCode. Non-planar printing, where your print head moves along all three axes simultaneously instead of staying at a constant Z-height is also possible. In the video after the break, [Thomas Sanladerer] demonstrates how he used FullControl to reduce the print time of a functionally identical part from two hours to 30 minutes.

FullControl is built on Microsoft Excel using Visual Basic scripting, which comes at the cost of long GCode generation times. It also doesn’t show the defined tool paths graphically, so the generated code needs to be pasted into a viewer like Repetier Host to see what it’s doing. Fortunately, a Python version is coming to should hopefully elevate many of these shortcomings.

We also featured some other GCode hacks in the last few months that bend existing GCode along a spline path, and a Blender plugin allows the surface textures of sliced objects to be modified.

DIY 3D Slicer Is A Dynamo

We all know that hacker that won’t use a regular compiler. If he’s not using assembly language, he uses a compiler he wrote. If you don’t know him, maybe it is you! If you really don’t know one, then meet these two. [Nathan Fuller] and [Andy Baldwin] want to encourage you to write your own 3D slicer.

Their post is very detailed and uses Autodesk Dynamo as a graphical programming language. However, the details aren’t really specific to Dynamo. It is like a compiler. You sort of know what it must be doing, but until you’ve seen one taken apart, there are a lot of subtleties you probably wouldn’t think of right away if you were building one from scratch.